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August 1, 2018

EVEN IF YOU COULD PRINT A 3D GUN, IT WOULDN'T BE EASY IN KENTUCKY. HERE'S WHY...

 

A federal judge in Seattle late Monday issued a temporary restraining order to stop the release of blueprints to make untraceable 3D-printed plastic guns.

Gun control advocates and even some supporters of gun rights sued to block publication, saying they fear easier access to homemade plastic weapons without serial numbers, commonly called ghost guns, could aid terrorists and endanger the public.

print of a 3D gunprint of a 3D gun

But even if Texas high-tech gun champion Cody Wilson could post his schematics online Wednesday, Kentuckians would have a hard time finding a 3D printer on which to make the weapons.

Industrial 3D printers cost between $20,000 and $100,000, and schools and business that own them in Kentucky say they won't allow anyone to use theirs to make weapons.

The University of Kentucky, which has six of the machines in its College of Design, allows only use for school projects approved by faculty and overseen by staff, said Dean Mitzi Vernon.

And while GE Appliances and the University of Louisville offer entrepreneurs and the public the use of 3D printers and other high-tech tools at their jointly run FirstBuild “microfactory,” company spokesman Wendy Treinen said GE policy forbids the manufacture of any kind of firearms in its facilities. She also said that would run counter to the purpose of GE Appliances — “to bring happiness and well-being into the home.”

UPS offers 3D printers at 100 stores nationwide, including the one at 743 E. Broadway, but a manager there said the company doesn’t allow weapon manufacturing.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik issued his restraining order in connection with a lawsuit brought by attorneys general in nine states and the District of Columbia calling on the Trump administration to stop Wilson’s DEFCAD.com site from posting plans for 3D printed receivers — the frame where other parts are attached — for AR-15 semiautomatic rifles and other weapons.

Even gun-friendly President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday that that he’s “looking into” the matter and that the idea “doesn’t seem to make much sense.”

His own State Department, however, settled a lawsuit filed by Wilson and his nonprofit, Defense Distributed, that allows the blueprints to be posted.

The battle began in 2012 when Wilson made what is believed to be the world's first full 3D printed pistol, the single-shot "Liberator." In 2013, the State Department ordered Wilson to remove from his website plans for the guns, saying he was violating regulations controlling the export of military weapons.

Wilson, a radical libertarian who touts his technology as bringing an end to gun control, sued the government, claiming it was violating his First Amendment right to free speech because he wasn't exporting actual firearms. The federal government eventually gave in, but some states are still fighting.

 

3d printed gun files are selling for $12 on dark web new report reveals 3d printed gun files are selling for $12 on dark web new report reveals

Josh Shapiro, the Pennsylvania attorney general,said the idea of publishing how-to manuals for printed guns is “an obscene proposition” and 21 state attorneys general sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Attorney General Jeff Sessions Monday saying the settlement was “deeply dangerous and could have an unprecedented impact on public safety.”

Those officials did not include Kentucky Attorney General Andrew Beshear, who has announced he is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor next year.

In a statement, Deputy Attorney General J. Michael Brown said the “legal issues are being brought in both federal and state courts, none in Kentucky, and we will continue to monitor and review them and their effects on Kentuckians.”

In an interview, two members of the General Assembly who usually support gun rights — Rep. Wesley Morgan, R-Richmond, and Sen. John Schickel, R-Union — expressed concern about the potential for untraceable weapons.

Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville and a gun control advocate, called that prospect “frightening” and said she hoped Democrats and Republicans could work together to address it. Spokesmen for the Kentucky State Police and Gov. Matt Bevin did not respond to requests for comment.

Some law enforcement officials said they fear that making it easier to make guns at home would allow criminals to ignore gun licensing rules and skirt background checks, but some experts says the concerns are overblown.

Federal law already allows individuals to manufacture a firearm for their own use, as long as it is not sold or given to another person, noted Doug Ramsey, chief compliance officer and director of outreach, education and training for Bud’s Gun Shop in Lexington.

And a trade website for the 3D industry, all3dp.com, said “there’s no reason to fear a 3D printed gun any more than you would a conventionally manufactured… firearm.” The site also said most desktop 3D printers are not capable of creating a lethal and fully functional weapon, and metal 3D printing is “far too expensive to appeal to the average criminal.”

Three-dimension “printing” is really a misnomer.

Print a 3D gun ...Ghost Gunner Print a 3D gun ...Ghost Gunner

Starting with a design from a computer, a 3D printer uses layers of plastics, resin and other materials to make virtually anything from ceramic cups to plastic toys to metal machine parts. The 3D printing process turns a whole object into thousands of tiny little slices, then builds it from the bottom-up, slice by slice.

Gun shops owners, including Barry Laws of Open Range in Crestwood, said printed weapons are too rudimentary to cut into sales of conventional firearms.

While much of the current debate centers on the potential that Wilson's 3D guns will be easier to make, plans for printable firearms have been available through illicit sources for years, and homemade weapons existed long before the advent of 3D printing. Anyone with some mechanical skill and machine tools can assemble an untraceable firearm using unregulated parts they can buy without going through a background check.

In addition to making available the plans and code to print 3D plastic guns, Wilson’s Defense Distributed sells a $1,500 computerized milling machine it calls the Ghost Gunner. Like mills available from other manufacturers, it uses computer coding to guide machines that carve objects out of aluminum. In this case, the code carves gun parts.

A writer for Wired, the tech magazine, wrote in 2015 that despite having no technical understanding of firearms and a “Cro-Magnon man’s mastery of power tools,” he was able to use the Ghost Gunner to make a fully functional and accurate AR-15 in one afternoon in the magazine’s San Francisco offices.

Ghost guns became a hot topic last November when Kevin Janson Neal, who was barred from owning firearms because of a restraining order, killed five people in a shooting rampage in Northern California using semiautomatic rifles he made himself.

By Andrew Wolfson
Louisville Courier Journal

 

 

 

July 31, 2018

 

The Democratic candidate challenging Rep. Brett Guthrie in November wants amnesty for all immigrants who are living in the country illegally.

Hank Linderman is challenging Guthrie, the Republican congressman who since 2009 has represented Kentucky's 2nd congressional district, which includes Bowling Green, Owensboro and Elizabethtown.

Hank LindermanHank Linderman"I am calling for action to help the millions of undocumented people already working in our communities, serving in our military and raising families by granting amnesty," linderman said in a statement. Amnesty would be given for "qualified" immigrants living in the U.S. as of July 4, he said.

Linderman is also calling for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be restructured and its mission refocused.

"The abuses we have seen, including family separations, extended incarcerations and even violent and sexual assault, must stop," he said.

Linderman's comments come amid a nationwide backlash against ICE after it was revealed that the Trump administration had a policy that separated immigrant children from their families at the border. In Louisville, groups have been calling to abolish ICE for weeks, protesting outside the ICE office downtown as well as at Louisville Immigration Court.

"We are a nation of immigrants," Linderman said in the statement. "To deny this reality is to deny our nation itself."

A spokesperson for Guthrie did not immediately return a request for comment. In 2016, he was re-elected to his office after he went unopposed. He has served as the represenative for the 2nd District since 2009.

Linderman is a Florida native who moved to Louisville in the 1970s. He attended the University of Louisville but did not earn a degree from the institution, according to his campaign page.

Linderman, a musician and recording engineer by trade who spent time in Culver City, California, was also a lead guitarist in a Louisville band called Quickdraw.

He has played with and been an engineer for several famous bands, including America, Chicago and The Eagles.

Linderman said there are estimates of more than 10 million immigrants living in the country illegally, and he pointed to former President Ronald Reagan's amnesty act in 1986 as an example of the policy's success.

"Any reform of immigration law and process in the United States must include amnesty for those already living here," Linderman said in his statement.

Linderman captured 30 percent of the Democratic primary vote in May, beating out fellow democratic candidates Brian Pedigo, Rane Eir Olivia Sessions and Grant Short.

The last elected Democratic representative from the second district was William Natcher, who served from 1953 to 1994.

By Thomas Novelly
Louisville Courier Journal

 

 

 

July 31, 2018

Getting more unsolicited calls? You aren’t alone; Phone scams on the rise in KY.

Federal Communications Commission says unwanted phone calls are its top complaint

George Hord got a call on Thursday from someone who said they were from the Becker Law Office.

The man said the law firm was about to file a lawsuit against him and to make the lawsuit go away, Hord needed to send them money. But the Mt. Washington native was suspicious. The caller had part of his social security number and demanded that he repeat the case number to be connected to a lawyer to learn more about the alleged lawsuit against him.

Instead Hord hung up and called the Becker Law Office. The office had no lawsuit against Hord. It was a scam, he was told.

“Normally, I wouldn’t have paid any attention but they used the Becker Law firm’s name, which is a respected law firm that has been around for more than 30 years,” Hord said. “That’s why I called them directly to make sure there was no lawsuit.”

Hord wasn’t the only one. Several people called Becker last week and said they, too, had been called by someone pretending to be from Becker Law Office.

Kevin Renfro, the owner of the law firm with offices around Kentucky, was astonished and alarmed. The scammers were sophisticated.

The law office’s information technology department discovered at least 80 phone calls by Friday afternoon had been “spoofed” from the law office’s fax machine, meaning the scammers had called at least 80 people using what appeared to be the Becker Law Office fax number.

“We were fortunate, we had several people call us and tell us that they had been contacted and did not fall for it,” Renfro said. “We want to spread the word that this is a scam.”

Unsolicited phone calls are becoming more common, not just in Kentucky but across the country, said Ben Long, the executive director of consumer protection for the Kentucky Attorney General’s office. From January to June 30, the office received 653 complaints about unsolicited phone calls. “That puts us on pace for about 1,300 for the year,” Long said. “ We had 1,067 in all of 2017.”

Nationally, the Federal Communications Commission said unwanted phone calls are its top complaint and has been for years. In 2017, the FCC said consumers got an estimated 98 million automated calls daily. YouMail Inc, a company that tracks unsolicited phone calls and sells software to block them, estimates that the number of unsolicited calls jumped in the last six months from 2.9 billion in January to 4.1 billion in June.

Fraud from these scams is estimated to cost consumers about $9.5 billion annually, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Most are not from legitimate telemarketers but are scam artists, Long said. Moreover, these type of unsolicited phone calls are becoming more difficult for Kentucky and other states to crack down on because many of the scammers are operating outside of the country.

“It is truly a national problem and it’s going to take a federal approach,” Long said. “It’s going to take the industry and the federal legislation working together on some level to address this issue.”

It has also become easier for scammers to “spoof” legitimate phone numbers, as they did with the Becker Law Office number.

Becker Law Office thinks the con artists using their phone number are not from Kentucky and are possibly operating overseas, Renfro said.

“We were told by several people who called us that the scammers — who were either posing as an attorney or a paralegal — did not have good command of English or had terrible grammar, but they were using American names like Steve Brown or Johnny,” said Renfro.

Long said most unsolicited calls and scams go unreported, but his office wants to hear from consumers about them. People can call the consumer protection division at 502-696-5389 or visit the web site nocall.ky.gov 

The office has been successful in going after some scammers.

For example, the office recovered more than $50,000 in 2016 that an Elizabethtown woman had sent to scammers who had said they were with the IRS and demanded that she pay back taxes or face jail time. The office was able to track the money to an account, “which was owned by Tours Limited, a travel agency in Atlanta. We filed suit against Tours Limited to recover the money. The business settled the suit and agreed to pay the full restitution of $50,992. Ultimately, the office was able to return all of the money the senior lost,” Long said.

The consumer protection office now has a scam alert system that send texts to people alerting them of recent scams in the state. There also are hundreds of apps for smart phones that will stop unsolicited calls — but nearly all most be purchased.

State and federal Do Not Call lists are still effective in stopping legitimate telemarketers, Long said. People should make sure their current mobile number is on the federal Do Not Call List, he said.

Meanwhile, Renfro said it’s likely that Becker Law Office is not the only law office con artists are using as a front to bilk innocent people out of money.

“If it’s going on here it’s likely going on in other states,” Renfro said. “If even one person falls for it, that’s one person too many.”

By Beth Musgrave
Lexington Herald-Leader

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