Civil Liberties

Legal Experts Fret That 3D Printers May Render the Law Impotent

That's the whole friggin' idea


So far, Defense Distributed has only succeeded in producing gun parts, such as a lower receiver for an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and a magazine for an AK-47, not entire guns. But its designs and prototypes have gained a considerable following: To date, its files have been downloaded more than 400,000 times.

Defense Distributed's ongoing efforts in the 3D printing space, however, highlight numerous legal and legislative issues that may need to be rethought as the technology picks up steam.

"This whole issue could obliterate, or at least undermine, the effective regulation of firearms possession," said Mary Fan, a law professor at the University of Washington in Seattle.