A California State Senator Is Trying To Outlaw 3-D Printed Guns

How do you ban the coupling of a digital file and a legal technology?
The only vital metal component? A nail, used as a firing pin. Defense Distributed

California State Senator Leland Yee (who represents the western part of San Francisco) announced that he will pursue outlawing 3-D-printed weaponry, in the wake of the first 3-D-printed gun to be successfully fired.

This weekend, a Texas group called Defense Distributed created the plans for a 3-D-printed gun made almost entirely of plastic–the only metal part is a very small firing pin. (For more on that, check out this article.) Federal law restricts the purchase of guns–barely–but places no restrictions on the creation of weaponry.

That hasn’t been much of a problem in the past; while it’s certainly possible to use various metalworking machines to create a working firearm, it’s expensive and difficult, requiring quite a bit of expertise, and when it’s easy and cheap to buy a professionally made gun (legally or illegally), homemade guns haven’t caught on.

But 3-D printers are a bit different. They’re rapidly decreasing in price; the machinery needed to craft a metal gun would cost tens of thousands of dollars, while you can buy a 3-D printer online for a thousand dollars or so. The price, too, will only drop from there; companies like Makerbot and Solidoodle are dedicated to pushing that price as far south as possible, down past the $500 mark. Those printers aren’t capable of printing a gun yet–but they will be.

The other major advantage is ease. It takes considerable skill to craft a metal gun, and none at all to download a CAD file and press “print.” In fact, this particular file has been downloaded over 100,000 times already, according to Forbes.

It’s unclear how Yee’s bill would actually ban this technology; it’s virtually impossible to stop digital files from distributing, as any member of the Record Industry Association of America could tell you. A spokesman said the bill was being drafted at the moment, so the details are still being hammered out. Perhaps a blanket federal law against creating one’s own firearms would be in order?

[via the Telegraph]