News Analysis: The 3-D Printing Of The Future Promises Far More Than Just Guns

What happens to anti-gun legislation when people can just make weapons in their homes?
Michael Cho

The Liberator, the 3-D printed gun that we reported on earlier today, is proof-of-concept for an inevitable and dangerous idea: what happens to anti-gun legislation when people can just make weapons in their homes?

3-D printers are only getting cheaper, and the tremendous economic potential of 3-D printing should make legislators cautious when reacting to a technology that offers everything from new ears to custom prosthetics to electric racecars, to say nothing of the amazing potential 3-D printers offer at-home manufacturing.

While there are already politicians seeking a legislative solution to 3-D printed guns, it might be best to look at this as an edge case, an inevitable unintended use, but one that won’t define the market. Fertilizer, pressure cookers, and cell phones are all everyday appliances that can be used to make deadly explosives, but the overwhelming benefits from these technologies is so positive, and their use as instruments of harm, while existent, is so rare that it would be absurd to try and ban them outright.

We shouldn’t be looking at this narrowly as “3-D printed gun poses a new threat“; individuals making guns at home predates 3-D printing by centuries, and people in conflict zones make them without the aid of a 3-D printer to this day. Not to understate the significance of a potentially undetectable home-printed gun, but the impact such weapons will have on society is far less than the one 3-D printing as a whole will have. The technology that is revolutionary here is the 3-D printing.