3D printing complicates renewal of plastic gun ban


Credit: Solid Concepts

Guns that can’t be detected by an X-ray machines or metal detector are forbidden under a 25-year-old law, but the law is set to expire on Monday and a debate over 3D printing is complicating efforts to renew it.

While both parties in Congress support the existing ban, Democrats are concerned over plastic weapons that can be printed with 3D technology and that contain a detachable, superfluous piece of metal.

Some Democrats regard plastic guns with removable metal as a way to circumvent the ban, and want the renewed law to include language that would require all plastic guns to include a permanent piece of metal inside them. Some gun advocates, however, are opposing the proposal as a way to stifle the development of gun technology, according to the AP.

The debate over 3D-printed guns has taken on new urgency after a Texas law student successfully fired a printed plastic pistol earlier this year. And in late November, Philadelphia became the first city to pass a law banning printed guns.

As for the federal ban, Congress is expected to pass the renewal by early next week, but it’s unclear if it will be a long-term extension of the current ban — which Republicans want — or just a one-year extension, proposed by Sen Chuck Schumer (D-NY), that will require lawmakers to address 3D gun technology.


Matt Rew

There are a few things that people seem to either overlook, or not realize about this issue. Firstly, while 3D printed guns are possible to make, the number of people who both own a 3D printer and are interested in manufacturing weapons, is really quite minuscule. Second, this law was passed because people have already figured out how to make guns and other weapons that are able to pass through metal detectors. When you look at the law itself (as with many laws) it’s not about the pretense of stopping people from doing something, but having legal recourse if/when they are caught doing it. I personally think the amendments that are being suggested are completely unnecessary, and that renewal of the law as is will cover all the bases. In the long run though, I don’t foresee 3D printed guns; whether as toys, or fully functional weapons, posing any real threat to the nation or the world.

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