Civil Liberties

3D Gun Ban

Don't print this at home


On November 21, the Philadelphia City Council approved a ban on manufacturing guns with a 3D printer unless the owner of the printer also has a federal firearms manufacturing license. According to Philadelphia magazine, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson (D-Center City), who crafted the legislation, is unaware of any actual 3D gun manufacturers in the city. In a surprisingly forthright statement, Johnson's office explained: "It's all pre-emptive. It's just based upon internet stuff out there."

Criminals may have little incentive to buy or build plastic 3D-printed guns, many of which are capable of only a few shots before breaking. Increasing capability for the production of metal 3D-printed guns may change that, but for now the equipment needed to manufacture one of these firearms can set you back $8,000, whereas an old-fashioned black market handgun can cost as little as $300. In the meantime, the Department of Homeland Security has suggested that stopping 3D-printed weapons production is a virtually impossible task.

The ban may not hold up under Pennsylvania law, which states that "no county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammunition components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this Commonwealth."