NYC Councillors propose idiotic, headline-grabbing "3D printed gun" law

Michael from Public Knowledge sez, "Members of the New York City Council seem to have read a few articles about 3D printed guns and decided to hop on the bandwagon. Their new bill got them some attention because it has the words "3D printing" in it. But it also betrayed a near total ignorance of what 3D printing is, and fails to explain why it is regulating 3D printed guns specifically (besides the fact that it got them in the news). Lawmakers who introduce bills like this should be publicly shamed for rushing to regulate something before making any effort to understand it."

Why does this definition betray shameless headline chasing on behalf of Council Members Fidler, James, Chin, Recchia, Comrie, Weprin, Palma, Foster, Brewer, Del Carmen Arroyo, Dickens, Jackson, King, Koo, Koppell, Lander, Mendez, Rose, and Vann? A 3D printer is “a computer-driven machine capable of producing a three-dimensional object from a digital model,” isn’t it?

Sure. But so is every other modern manufacturing machine. A CNC mill fits that definition. As do laser cutters. So do industrial arms that build cars on assembly lines. And robots. And, for that matter, automated crochet knitting machines.

Which is fine. If these Council Members think that people using machines to make firearms is a problem, they should draft a bill that addresses that problem. Alternatively, if these Council Members think that people specifically using 3D printers to make firearms is a problem, they are free to draft a bill to address that too.

But that’s not what appears to have happened here. This bill reads like it was drafted after someone saw a bunch of stories about 3D printed guns, but before they took any time to think about 3D printed guns, let alone formulate a specific concern about 3D printed guns.

Legislating for Headlines Makes you Look Like a Jerk


  1. This would be a problem if it made any sense at all to 3d-print a gun. As it is, it’s just amusing.

  2. “…But it also betrayed a near total ignorance..”

    These are politicians after all so no surprise there.

  3. There is incredibly little that legislation will do to stop the proliferation of the files. Myself and others bring new things to life every single day with a bit of imagination and CAD software. The simple fact that legislators believe they can stop us from exploring this technology is laughable at best. A 3D Printer can be built from parts for under 500 dollars with a print envelope more than capable of printing the piece of junk liberator, but more importantly, one of the vast array of AR-15 receivers (my own work here, ) that New York has sought to rid itself of. It has been, and will continue to be legal to make a firearm for your own personal use, and attacking one singular method of creation is political arrogance at its worst. The fact is that we have already created magazines that are legal in New York, and versions for most other places with magazine restrictions in place. We follow the law to the letter, and advise the people that ask us to do the same.

    3D printers aren’t going anywhere. Every week there is a new advancement in capability, a discovery in materials, or improvement in accuracy. Registration of the tool to make something accomplishes even less than the registration of the item itself.

    New York, you are attacking the wrong people. Those with crime in their hearts are not going to pay 500 dollars for a printer, 40 dollars for 2 pounds of ABS filament, calibrate the printer, and then wait 30+ hours while each part prints. They are going to purchase a cheap hand gun off the street. We are simply firearms and technology enthusiasts. Our firearms are not undetectable. They are not a threat to society. We push the bounds of what is possible in firearms design. We are researchers, hobbyists, engineers and dreamers. We are not the specter in the night you make us out to be.

    We exercise our freedom of speech in 1’s and 0’s. We exercise our right to bear arms in ABS plastic. We are not your enemy.

  4. If they want to make 3-d printed guns illegal- or really plastic guns, which is what they’re afraid of, I think- then all they need to do is add it to the list of illegal firearms. There are guns you’re basically not allowed to have, for various reasons. Make plastic guns one of them. Or better, make a law saying that using one in the commision of a crime carries an automatic sentence of ___, which still allows people to own one for whatever reason they might have as long as they stay friendly.

  5. Next week the will pass a laws banning the Laser Pistol, personal flying saucers and robot maids.

  6. Lawmakers who introduce bills like this should be publicly shamed for rushing to regulate something before making any effort to understand it.

    Public shaming? That’s all? Let the punishment fit the crime, I say. This sort of crap leads to systematic injustice, so if you ask me the penalty should be jail time.

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