3D printed guns just cleared a major legal hurdle

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/07/16/3d-printed-guns-just-cleared-a.html


Leaving aside all the free speech arguments, how would the state have any hope of stopping this? They’re digital files, and once they’re in the world, they’re everywhere.


Critics argue this will hasten the rise of “ghost guns,” unregistered weapons created without government knowledge or oversight. Advocates argue that’s the whole idea of 3D printed weapons

Knowing the kind of amateurish yahoo who’d think printing and firing one of these weapons would be a good idea, I’ll be expecting that the rise of “ghost guns” will also hasten the rise of a lot of phantom hands and arms.


I’m just waiting for someone to get badly hurt firing an AR15 made out of PLA. It’s just a matter of time.


Bogus DMCA takedown?


The lower receiver is the only part that’s federally controlled, and the only part you need to print. It doesn’t handle any of the high force stuff. All the other important bits can be purchased legally.

This is a victory for makers everywhere.

Yeah, how would we ever enforce copyright, or make child porn illegal, or make documents classified? We’re truly helpless to stop this...

The only controls I can see the state imposing are on the printer/router/cutter hardware and/or firmware or perhaps the required printing feedstock. Of course those controls can be circumvented, too, but not by an appeal to the First Amendment.


Not for nothing, but you can go to any number of sites on the internet and download hundreds of thousands of copyrighted works.

The child porn is an interesting comparison, though. I think it would be impossible to stop child porn without the incredibly social and moral stigma attached to it. If a guy brings his computer in to Best Buy and it has a file of a kid being abused, the store is calling the FBI tout suite. If he has a file with a bunch of computer code to plug into a 3d printer?

And the classified material is another good point. It’s able to be restricted at its source, but once it’s out in the world, it’s everywhere. Ms. Manning demonstrated that pretty convincingly, I would think.

I think you’re right. And when the ability to print the parts to create another printer is readily available, that level of control is gone as well.


So now the plan is to regulate ammunition sales, then?


No, no thank you.


Except when this is leveraged by industries who stand to be hurt by 3D printing to insert themselves into anti-gun movements and push to block access to ALL 3D printing for Public Safety… It’s worth it to separate the legality of 3D printing from the legality of 3D printing weapons.


Well, if the state could regulate the printers themselves, they could require them to refuse to print identifiable weapons. Of course, people make their own printers, too, so this is trivial to bypass.

But it’s not unprecedented. I believe most high-end printers and copiers are required to refuse to create copies that look like currency.


Gun companies fronting political action groups pushing 3D printer control to stop guns from being produced.



I look forward to seeing the contortions of the position of the NRA on this.


Well this should be a fun thread to watch today.


“Critics argue this will hasten the rise of “ghost guns,” unregistered weapons created without government knowledge or oversight.”

This is indistinguishable from today’s state of affairs. Honestly, WTF is up with crime shows pretending that law enforcement has any ability to “look up” guns?

NB: I do not approve of un-tracked guns. I do not approve of guns at all. You should not have guns. Yes, you. You, either.

edit:formatting only


We don’t treat traditional guns carefully enough as it is. What difference does it make when people are making their own guns for the safety of the average American?

Oh, it threatens you, the American State, and your actors. We get it now.


Well let’s see…

  1. The fear of “untraceable guns”. LOL. While some locales have a form or registration, the vast majority do not. And the vast majority of guns used in crimes are not used by their legal owners. So even if you found a gun at a crime scene, and there was a means to trace it, odds are it was stolen at some point. Possibly it will come back as bought by the suspects cousin or girl friend. The crime shows on TV make it look like it’s all a clean cut science, and it isn’t. Programs such as Massachusett’s “ballistic fingerprinting” program was shut down because after 15 years it never solved a case.

  2. People have been making their own guns with the help of simple machines such as drill presses or hobbyist milling machines for decades. You can’t sell them and you can’t make stuff on the NFA list, but it has been around for years. Sure, a mini milling machine that makes easier will increase the popularity of this hobby.

  3. Even before fancy computer milling machines, there are people in Ireland and Pakistan and the Philippines and other places making clones of guns by hand with rudimentary tools on a semi-industrial scale. To say that the transfer of files some how violates ITAR is just freaking hilarious.

  4. The fear of injury is a real concern, but one that can be mitigated with some basic precautions. The sample in the article looks like they are milling steel frames for 1911s. That means the other parts you can buy separately, as they aren’t the actual “gun”. The little thing the carpenter put together has a metal barrel and most likely metal in the receiver. There are many 9mm guns like that that use more and more composite plastics as part of the shell etc., with metal as the internal parts that needs to contain the pressure.

Wildcatters and hand loaders probably take more risks by pushing limits creating new loads, or worse, making an error which can result in catastrophic failure. But these are relatively rare.


When the brewing civil war erupts, the people who argued against anyone having guns are going to be really happy they have the ability to download some protection.

Those who say the other side votes against their own self interests are amazingly blind to their own self interests.