Brian Doherty on “What 3-D Printing Means for Gun Rights”

December 14th, 2012

This is a very important piece. Here’s a taste:

The 3D gun printing story is a characteristic postmodern brouhaha, with everyone correct from their perspective. Rep. Israel is correct that home 3D printing endangers the regime of control he represents and serves. The hearty old school Maker is right that 3D printing is a change in convenience, not in kind; that people always had both the means and to some degree the legal right to arm themselves with homemade weapons. Wilson in a video on the Wiki Weapons site offered the metaphor of the printing press; it’s apt. People could always write things down, and the printing press just made it easier. Some kinds of easier, though, deposit you in a new world entirely, even if someone who customarily uses CNC routers to make things in their warehouse might think it’s no big deal.

That said, those cynical about triumphalist Maker ideology are correct that industrial civilization already supplies us with plentiful and affordable guns even before we all became decentralized information age self-driven manufacturing plants, or whatever the latest 3D printing rhetoric claims, and such regular products are still more affordable than current 3D printer tech, which might never be able to build a completely usable gun.

For my previous thoughts on the intersection of the First and Second Amendments with 3D Printing, see this post.