by Andy Greenberg
Few would have predicted, six months ago, that 3D printing would have stumbled into the center of one of the most radioactive topics in American politics.
Since last summer, the Texas group Defense Distributed has been working to make the idea of home 3D printing of gun components and possibly even entire firearms into a reality. They’ve succeeded, at least, for one man: New York representative Steve Israel, who sees the possibility as real enough that it needs to be explicitly banned in law.
After Defense Distributed’s YouTube tests of partially 3D printed semiautomatic weapons, Israel promised last month to specifically ban 3D printed gun components in his proposed renewal of the Undetectable Firearms Act, a law intended to ban the possession of any weapon that can’t be spotted by a metal detector or X-ray machine. And when Defense Distributed demonstrated a 3D printed high-capacity magazine–the exact ammunition feeding devices that would be banned for sale under a new federal gun control bill proposed by Congresswoman Diane Feinstein–Israel responded again, adding a specific ban on those 3D-printed ammo attachments to his proposed bill.
To some critics like blogger and author Cory Doctorow, Israel’s proposed bill sounds like the first of many inevitable attempts to regulate 3D printers and the myriad controversial objects they can produce. But when I sat down with Israel after his press conference about 3D printed guns in a Long Island police station Thursday, he said he had no intention of technologically hamstringing 3D printers or censoring gun blueprints.