‘Lion King’ Puppet Technician Arrested After Allegedly Printing 3D Gun At Theater


A puppet technician with the Broadway production of The Lion King was using a 3D printer to print a gun at the theater, police say.

Officers were called to Manhattan’s Minskoff Theater on Friday, where they say they found 47-year-old puppet technician Ilya Vett in the process of printing a handgun.  

New York City police Officer James Taylor says that when he arrived at a production and prop room for the musical, he saw a 3D printer producing a hard black plastic object “shaped like a revolver in that the object has a hand grip and a pointed, snub-nosed nozzle” and “an empty space where it is customary for a cylinder holding live rounds of ammunition to be placed.”

Printed guns have been in the headlines recently, as several states moved to block a Texas-based company from posting and selling plans for the guns online. Last month, a federal judge in Seattle granted a preliminary injunction preventing the publication of online blueprints for the guns.

Vett was arrested and charged with attempted criminal possession of a firearm. According to the criminal complaint, he told a detective that he was making the gun as a gift for his brother, who lives upstate and has a firearms license. Vett said the 3D printer was his own and he had brought it to work because his own workshop was too dusty, the complaint says.

The defendant reportedly explained that he found the plans for the gun online and downloaded them to a memory card. The card was inserted into the printer, which police say was powered on, moving and in operation when they arrived.

Vett was released Saturday and his case adjourned until Nov. 7. His attorney declined to comment.

The New York Daily News reports Vett was losing his job at The Lion King and that security found the printer and partially printed gun while assisting him in clearing out his things. An NPR request for comment from Disney, which produces the musical, was not returned.

In a video posted by Disney in November 2017 (and removed from YouTube today), Vett explained that being a puppet technician means ensuring the puppets used onstage continue to work properly.

“Usually by the end of every week, we’ll have seen every puppet and just given it a look,” he said. “And if something’s wrong and it needs a little paint or there’s something that’s not functioning correctly, we’ll then go in, fix it and get it back onto the stage as quickly as possible.”

In late July, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a series of actions to prevent distribution of 3D-printed guns, including issuing a state police notice of the relevant statute.

“[T]he production of pistols and revolvers is also illegal in the absence of a license to own one,” Cuomo’s office explained in a news release. “Even a valid pistol permit does not in and of itself authorize an individual to possess a 3D-printed pistol or revolver, since there is no guarantee that a local firearms licensing officer will allow a 3D-printed pistol or revolver to be registered on a pistol license.”

In court documents filed in July, states’ attorneys general seeking to block publication of the gun blueprints described “irreparable” harm that would result from the files’ release.

“The States’ extensive and comprehensive firearms-regulation laws are seriously undermined by the Government’s actions,” they wrote. “Once the files are publicly released, anyone with access to a commercially available printer—regardless of their age, mental health status, or criminal history—will be able to download the files and use them to make functional weapons at home that can evade metal detectors, that are untraceable because they contain no serial numbers, and that use bullets that are forensically untraceable to the weapon.”

As NPR’s Camila Domonoske has reported, under federal law:

“[It’s legal] for Americans to make their own guns for personal use, as long as those guns set off metal detectors and show up on X-ray machines. If you’re 3D printing part of a gun and using metal components for other parts, as some designs call for, no law is violated.

“However, one of the Defense Distributed designs is virtually all plastic, except for a metal firing pin. Critics say that design will allow illegal, undetectable guns to proliferate. However, skeptics note that design is not very reliable compared with guns with metal parts.”

9 thoughts on “‘Lion King’ Puppet Technician Arrested After Allegedly Printing 3D Gun At Theater

  1. September 25, 2018

    When will people learn not to talk to the police?? Simple, I don’t answer questions, Sir.

    Nothing can be accomplished by talking or explaining, only more self incrimination.

    1. yep right on the money..only 1 thing you typed that i would change … using the word “Sir ” that implies respect , and that just shouldn’t be

  2. Dangerous weapons..

    Well… I hate to fear monger…

    But I just downloaded a file to my 3D printer for a new 3D penis.

    I wouldn’t be to concerned.

    It’s good for only one shot.

    Then you throw it away.

    Actually. .. I recycle…

    I store them right next to my pickled balls in a jar I keep on the shelf.

    That I got back from my x wife.

    1. Well that ought to do you, until your ex-wife gives you back the one you were born with that she is keeping in a cigar box under her bed until the last alimony payment is made.
      Adapt and overcome. No pun intended. 🙂

      1. I deserved that….

        But little does she know…

        I’m currently downloading 3D schematic for a 3D printable vagina.

        And Santa Claws is right around the corner…

        Guess what Santa’s elves are giving her in her Christmas stocking.

        I’ll give ya hint…

        It’s not a lump of coal…

  3. It’s like getting suspended for drawing a gun on a piece of paper in school.

    What a joke.

    They are just worried about not detecting it in metal detectors and are playing the fearmongering game because they know they wouldn’t be able to to control it if someone made a plastic gun and brought it on a plane. So they have to make a big deal over it to scare everyone.

    These assholes wanna control every aspect of your lives before allowing you to do something. Gotta have their permission for everything. Just like going to Antarctica or even outer space. Otherwise they will shoot you down or sabotage your space shuttle. Sickos!

    Like I tell everyone, they’ll never let us to have flying cars or to freely explore outer space because it will be a security nightmare for them. And that’s an understatement.

    1. yup, our world at this point is an open air prison … so I’m all for getting this party started

      I’m getting older by the day , so dont leave me out .. Ive made ready for this over 30 years

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