Technology always moves faster than the people who make the laws and regulations for said technology. People always have to push the limitations of the particular technology before any talk of regulation will occur. Ever since the 90’s it would seem that technology has managed to hit the fast forward button so much so that even I, a person in her 20’s, is already starting to feel left behind. However, I do make it a point to try and learn about these technologies even if I have no clue as to whether or not I will ever utilize them. Why do I do this? So that way I can avoid being left behind, and perhaps be ready for the day these technologies will ever have a place in my life.
The specific technology that has piqued my interest lately is 3D printers. I watched a YouTube video of how this mysterious white composite powder was turned into a functional monkey wrench. I was floored. Following the progression of 3D printers, I saw that a young man received a 3D printed vertebra. It’s all the rage on medical TV shows that are practically turning it into a science fiction machine that can print organs. With a machine that seems to not have boundaries, how much of a science fiction status has this technology achieved?
In our beloved firearms industry, they’re anything but science fiction. AR lowers, magazines, and rifle stocks are now being made by individuals with 3D printers. Granted yes, we can all argue that the 3D printed parts are not nearly as reliable as the real thing… for now. I’m quite sure that the original ideas that were executed to create firearms back in the 1300’s were a horrific failure as well, and look how far we’ve come. To say the idea that 3D printing firearms is not a part of our future, would just be “pre-industrial revolution” thinking. The components for 3D printing will develop just as all production technology has and become strong enough to replace modern day polymer. Now whether 3D printing will be able to replace the metal components of firearms as well, I’m not hanging my hat on that being accomplished within my lifetime.
With the advancements being made with this technology we have to wonder if 3D printers are the future of Second Amendment regulation. The average person who has an interest in firearms has the capability of taking a 3D printer and producing a firearm component that would usually come from a manufacturer with a serial number. Should the average person be allowed to manufacture their own receivers? Should they be required to have a Type 7 Federal Firearms License? How about filing a variant with the ATF? Or filling out a Form 2 for the ATF? If these requirements don’t happen, who’s to say someone with a plan of destruction won’t get their hands on a 3D printer?
It’s not uncommon to see a person or group of people be destructive and come to find out later that they were simply laying dormant for many years while they built up their plan suited for evil. Will the average person be allowed to own a 3D printer for too much longer due to these risks? While we all know that the Second Amendment states “shall not be infringed”, at what point is regulation necessary to keep the general population safe? Carry on buying your AR-15s, and your thirty round magazines, but now might not be the time to get yourself a 3D printer unless you’re prepared to have it taken away from you, either by the leasing company you are contracted with for the printer or the United States Government. The forecast for ATF regulation on these machines in the future I predict is mostly cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms.