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A Dallas man was sentenced today to 8 years in prison after officers caught him with a partially 3D-printed AR-15 rifle and a list of lawmakers’ addresses in his backpack, despite a court order that prohibited him from possessing a firearm, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox.
In August 2015, following a violent altercation with a live-in girlfriend, a county judge enacted a protective order against Eric Gerard McGinnis, then 39. Despite that order – which barred him from possessing firearms or ammunition for two years – Mr. McGinnis attempted to buy a semi-automatic rifle component at a federally licensed gun shop in June 2016. The prospective purchase was rejected after an NICS background check uncovered the order, and ATF reminded Mr. McGinnis he wasn’t allowed to have a gun.
Instead, Mr. McGinnis obtained a barrel, stock, upper receiver, and grip, then used a 3D printer to create a “lower receiver,” the gun’s firing mechanism, and assembled the parts to construct a short-barrel AR-15 style rifle.
In July 2017 – with just over one month left on his protective order – Mr. McGinnis took the 3D-printed gun to a wooded area just outside Dallas. Grand Prairie police officers, out on another call, heard three shots fired and eventually located him just off a major road. Ordered to put his hands up, Mr. McGinnis falsely claimed to be a member of the CIA. Body-cam video shows that officers directed him to kneel on the pavement, cuffed him, and shortly thereafter, inspected his backpack.
In the backpack, the officers discovered the partially 3D printed gun, loaded, and a list labeled “9/11/2001 list of American Terrorists.” The hit list – not included as evidence at trial but presented at sentencing – included office and home addresses of several federal lawmakers, both Democrat and Republican.
A subsequent forensic analysis of Mr. McGinnis’ electronic devices by U.S. Capitol Police suggests Mr. McGinnis had a strong interest in James Hodgkinson, the shooter who wounded Rep. Steve Scalise and several others at a GOP Congressional baseball practice in Virginia in June 2017, the federal prosecutor revealed at sentencing Wednesday.
In a jailhouse phone call to a family member, Mr. McGinnis admitted he’d “printed” part of the gun.
“I didn’t buy a gun, I built the gun,” he said in the recorded phone call. “The upper, I printed a lower, and I built it -- installed the trigger and did all that stuff. I built it.”
After a two-day trial presided over by Chief U.S. District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn, a jury found McGinnis guilty of possessing an unregistered short barrel rifle and unlawfully possessing ammunition while subject to an active protective order.
This case, investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives with assistance from the Grand Prairie Police Department and U.S. Capitol Police, was brought as part of U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox’s initiative to keep firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian McKay and Rick Calvert prosecuted the case.
“When he realized he couldn’t legally purchase a firearm, Eric McGinnis circumvented our gun laws by 3D-printing his weapon, eliminating the need for a background check,” said Nealy Cox. “This case should send a message to prohibited persons contemplating acquiring guns by any method: this office is committed to keeping guns out of the hands of those who violate protective orders for domestic violence, no matter how the guns are obtained – by theft, purchase, or 3D printing.”
"Controls to determine if an individual is prohibited from purchasing firearms and ammunition worked," said Jeffrey C. Boshek II, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Dallas Field Division. “Mr. McGinnis applied evolving technology to by-pass those controls to manufacture an untraceable NFA weapon. The fact a prohibited person was able to manufacture an untraceable firearm with apparent ease and anonymity presents a significant challenge and major concern to law enforcement and our community.”
Mr. McGinnis is one of a number of defendants prosecuted for possessing firearms or ammunition after domestic violence convictions or while under protective orders in the Northern District of Texas.
Police body-cam footage of his arrest and audio of his jailhouse call are available upon request.
Erin Dooley, Public Affairs Officer