What are we to do about 3D printed guns? Some Americans rejoice at the idea; others panic.
The now famous (or infamous) group Defense Distributed recently released plans for a fully 3D printed gun. The only non-3D printed parts are a single nail required for the firing pin and a non-functional metal block “required” to ensure the gun’s compliance with the Undetectable Firearms Act.
Defense Distributed (DD), as an organization, remains a bit of an enigma. Are their goals purely political? That seems unlikely. Their ultimate motivator is more likely some combination of monetary return and narcissistic recognition. Their YouTube propaganda, smug and irreverent, often coincides with political activities, national crises or other media-rich events. They released their design files for a 30-round AR-15 magazine within weeks of the Sandy Hook school shooting. Classy.
But they are getting the results and attention they want. Senators Chuck Schumer of New York and Dianne Feinstein of California have taken the bait, calling for legislation forbidding the production of 3D printed guns and inspiring DD’s christening of their 30-round AK-47 magazine the “Feinstein AK Magazine.”
Political differences aside, I agree on one key point: the government should not have the authority to specify what manufacturing processes can be used to produce what products. For example, a simple ‘zip’ gun can be crafted for a few dollars from some basic pipe fittings and lumber, all available from your local hardware store. These types of guns are much cheaper and much more effective than guns currently made from 3D printed plastic parts. Yet I have not heard one senator debating whether or not we should control access to Home Depot or Lowes where these gun making supplies are readily available.
The questions in the debate cannot be: Should it be illegal for people to make guns out of pipes and lumber? or Should it be illegal for people to make guns out of 3D printed parts?
The question must simply be: Should it be illegal to manufacture guns without a license? Take 3D printing out of the debate. It is an irrelevant detail of the gun control issue being driven by opportunists.
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