A significant crackdown on illegal gun modification and trafficking led to the conviction of 31-year-old Indianapolis resident Micah Moore. On September 14, 2023, the United States Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Indiana announced Moore’s sentencing to seven years and six months in federal prison following his guilty plea to possession of a machine gun, which is heavily regulated, with those manufactured after 1986 being illegal for civilian possession.
Last year, Indianapolis law enforcement discovered two machine gun conversion devices, including “Glock switches,” in Moore’s dining room while executing a search warrant. Police also recovered three black auto-sears designed to convert semiautomatic rifles into machine guns. These devices, illegal to possess or sell in nearly all circumstances, are classified as machine guns under federal law.
Moore confessed in a recorded interview that he was producing these switches and auto-sears using 3D printing technology and was actively involved in buying firearms off the streets for reselling. The investigation revealed Moore’s illicit venture into manufacturing counterfeit prescription pills laced with fentanyl. Additionally, his indictment further reveals that a day before the search, he was found in possession of three auto-sears and multiple live rounds of ammunition. These revelations were particularly concerning given Moore’s previous convictions. He has three felony convictions in state court, including one for robbery and another for unlawful firearm possession by a serious violent felon. Given his criminal record, Moore is federally prohibited from owning firearms or ammunition.
US Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, Zachary A. Myers, emphasized the gravity of such offenses, stating, “Criminals who put illegal machine guns onto our streets add fuel to the fire of gun violence already devastating far too many of our families.”
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) were instrumental in the investigation, which culminated in District Judge Sarah Evans Barker pronouncing the sentence. In addition to his prison term, Moore will be under the U.S. Probation Office’s supervision for three years post-release and has been fined $750.
“The proliferation of machine gun conversion devices adds another, even more deadly, layer to the firearms violence in our community,” stated Daryl McCormick, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Columbus Field Division. “These devices, because they fire more quickly and are more difficult to control, greatly increase the danger to innocent bystanders and law enforcement. ATF will continue to work with our partners to take these devices off the streets.”
This case aligns with the objectives of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN). Launched on May 26, 2021, the initiative is dedicated to reinforcing bonds of trust within communities, emphasizing the role of community-based organizations in violence prevention, setting distinct enforcement priorities, and tracking outcomes. The program’s overarching aim is to curb violent crime, gun violence, and pave the way for safer neighborhoods nationwide.
The recent sentencing of Moore over illegal possession of machine gun conversion devices made using 3D printing raises alarms for law enforcement in Indianapolis. This isn’t an isolated incident. In October 2022, another Indianapolis man, Dwight King, was sentenced following his guilty plea for possessing a Glock switch and a 3D printed firearm. King faced charges of two counts of possession of a machine gun, resisting law enforcement, and invasion of privacy. His sentence handed him five years in the Indiana Department of Correction, succeeded by four years under Marion County Community Corrections.
Perhaps more disturbing was an incident from November 2021, when a teen from Hendricks County became the focal point of an investigation after being linked to almost a dozen shooting incidents around Indianapolis. A raid at the teen’s residence led to the discovery of a cache of firearms, which included six handguns, an AR-15, four long guns, two drum magazines, and a 3D printed drop-in — a device that can convert guns into fully automatic weapons.
IMPD Lt. Shane Foley emphasized, “I think what this shows is our officers, despite all the challenges they’re facing, are continuing to work to keep the community safe. We’re not looking to just lock people up for possessing firearms. That in and of itself isn’t illegal. We’re looking to target those people with crime guns, guns that are used in crimes and are illegally possessed.”
Indiana has no law restricting untraceable firearms, also known as ghost guns or undetectable firearms. However, these incidents underline the menace of 3D printed weapons and their parts in the hands of criminals, posing a significant challenge to law enforcement and highlighting the need for newer strategies and regulations to curb this threat.
Tech’s dark side
3D printing, like many groundbreaking innovative technologies, has both positive potential and risks for misuse. Just as the internet brought vast knowledge but paved the way for cybercrime and misinformation, and AI offers transformative benefits but can be used for harmful purposes, 3D printing faces a similar dichotomy. Like many innovative technologies, 3D printing has both positive potential and risks for misuse. The technology can be used by criminals to create gun parts that were once restricted to traditional manufacturing processes. In its essence, 3D printing is a neutral technology, but its application is determined by human intent.
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