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3D Printing of ‘Assault Weapons’ Has Public Policy Implications

Ars Technica reports a breakthrough in the 3D printing of firearms that will certainly complicate any government efforts to restrict them. A non-profit group called Defense Distributed has released a video of a new printed AR-15 in operation.

The parts that are produced by a 3D printer are what are called the “lower part” of a weapon where the moving parts are. Apparently the “upper part” consisting of the barrel has to come separately, since the technology to print it successfully is still being developed.

In any case, the printed AR-15 was able to fire off 600 rounds without breaking. Likely it could fire more ammunition. The rest only ended when the testers ran out of bullets. The AR-15 is the civilian version of the M-16 and unlike its military counterpart is semi-automatic, meaning each bullet fired requires a squeeze of the trigger.

3D Printing of Assault Weapons

The idea that anyone with access to a 3D printer can make their own semiautomatic weapon, which some members of Congress have termed “assault weapons,” has serious public policy implications. Will some in the government, keen as they are on restricting access to weapons, try to “close the 3D printing loophole?” If so, how would that actually work and how would it be enforced? Would 3D printers have to be regulated? Would the “software” to make printed guns be banned? The implication of 3D printed weapons creates a legal and Constitutional mine field that lawmakers will need to tread lightly in. While Congress and various state legislatures have successfully banned or restricted the sale of certain fire arms, the Supreme Court has taken a dim view of attempted to curtail the possession of fire arms, citing the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution. Visit this link: for effective information.

Currently anyone can manufacture a firearm for their personal use. One needs a government license, and all that implies, if one wants to sell firearms, even ones manufactured on a 3D printer. Giving away such firearms as gifts may be a gray area.

3D Printing an AR-15 appears to be cheap as well; between $150 and $200, plus the cost of the barrel and ammunition. That means just about anyone can have one, including the single mother living alone and the gang banger who might want to molest or kill her.