3D printing is a budding technology that has already made waves in the scientific and medical fields. Another application that is catching lots of attention is the 3D printed gun. Although Cody R. Wilson's semiautomatic revolution is taking place in Texas, it is New York City that is moving to ban these guns.
The ATF has not recognized printed guns as "durable" as conventionally manufactured ones. Up to this point, the agency has not had a reason to enforce policy on these guns, because, well, there was no policy.
Now that the city of New York is prohibiting the creation of such guns, the ATF has cause to look into the issue more closely, although the likelihood of the agency using its resources in response to a city ordinance may be low. The agency is spread thin as it is.
Gun registration becomes a non-factor when considering the nature of 3D printed guns. Currently, no regulation regarding serial registration or licenses for carrying these guns exists outside of New York. This means if a gun were to be manufactured in someone's home, the state would have no way of knowing it exists.
This raises a dire question: if someone can buy a 3D printer, are the items they choose to create with this machine their inalienable property?
The question gets muddier once the Second Amendment is factored in. The right to bear arms is only bolstered by the fact that said arms were made solely by the private individual.
The sheer affordability of 3D printers may bring these issues to the forefront in coming months, as popularization of this technology will no doubt lead to a heightened interest in 3D firearms, among other things.
The ATF's failure to respond to the growing trend of privately manufactured weapons is a signal of government failing to keep up with and understand technological developments as they happen.
Should 3D printed guns be allowed? What sort of regulations should be placed, if any?