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3D Printing of Guns Requires a License in California: Understanding the New License Provisions

The advent of 3D printing technology has revolutionized many industries, including the manufacturing of firearms. Recognizing the potential risks associated with unregulated production, California has implemented strict regulations regarding the 3D printing of guns.

Assembly Bill 2156 (Stats. 2022, Ch. 142) introduces significant amendments to Penal Code (PC) Section 29010, requiring individuals to obtain a license from both the federal government and the state of California.

Let's delve into the new license provisions and their implications.

Federal and State License Requirements

Under federal law, firearm manufacturers must hold a license granted by the federal government. However, California law goes a step further by requiring any federally licensed manufacturer producing 50 or more firearms in the state within a calendar year to also be licensed by the state.

Violation of this provision is considered a misdemeanor offense.

Expansion of State License Requirements

AB 2156 further strengthens the state's oversight by prohibiting any person, regardless of federal licensure, from manufacturing firearms in California without obtaining a state license. Previously, individuals were required to obtain a state license only if they manufactured 50 or more firearms.

However, with the amendments, the manufacturing threshold necessitating state licensure has been reduced to three or more firearms within a calendar year. This change aims to regulate even small-scale production activities and curb potential illicit firearm manufacturing.

Restrictions on 3D Printing of Firearms

One of the crucial provisions introduced by AB 2156 is the prohibition of firearm manufacturing using a 3D printer unless the individual is licensed as a firearm manufacturer. This includes the production of firearm frames, receivers, and precursor parts using three-dimensional printers. The legislation aims to prevent unregulated manufacturing that may compromise public safety and security.

Defining Three-Dimensional Printer

AB 2156 also includes a definition of a "three-dimensional printer" to provide clarity. This definition helps to distinguish between traditional manufacturing processes and the emerging technology of 3D printing. It ensures that the legislation encompasses the use of this advanced manufacturing method in the production of firearms and their components.

Consequences of Violation

Violating the provisions set forth by AB 2156 is considered a misdemeanor offense. Individuals found guilty of manufacturing firearms without the necessary licenses or using a 3D printer for unauthorized firearm production may face legal action.

It is essential for individuals engaged in any form of firearm manufacturing within California to comply with the licensing requirements to avoid potential penalties.


AB 2156 introduces crucial amendments to the license provisions governing firearm manufacturing in California. By requiring individuals to obtain both federal and state licenses, the legislation seeks to regulate the production of firearms and ensure public safety.

The reduction of the manufacturing threshold to four firearms in a calendar year and the prohibition of 3D printed firearms without the necessary license further strengthens the state's oversight. These changes are a proactive step towards preventing unlicensed and potentially dangerous firearm manufacturing activities.

It is essential for individuals involved in any form of firearm production to familiarize themselves with the updated license provisions to avoid legal consequences and contribute to a safer society.

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