3D printed guns are going to create big legal precedents

By now, everyone’s heard about the 3D printed gun that Defense Distributed demonstrated last week. The Texas-based group has been steadily working its way up the 3D printed firearms evolutionary ladder, making parts for guns, then guns themselves, then firing a gun, then making the plans for running up your own pistols on a nearby 3D printer. If Defense Distributed had set out to create a moral panic over 3D printing, they could have picked no better project.The prevailing opinions on 3D printed guns fall into two major categories: the apocalyptic and the nonchalant. The apocalyptics – including grandstanding politicos like New York State senator Steve Israel, who’s already introduced legislation aimed at banning 3D printed guns – greet this news with hysterics: the age of the undetectable plastic gun to be upon us, and Something Must Be Done. The nonchalant point out that the 3D printed gun that Defense Distributed fired cost a small fortune and requires a highly specialised and even more expensive 3D printer to produce; is fragile and liable to self-destruction after a few rounds are fired, and remind the apocalyptics that it’s much, much easier to go and buy a traditional gun in the criminal underground than it is to produce a working 3D printed item.

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