Let’s All Calm Down About 3D Plastic Guns

by Paul M. Barrett, BusinessWeek  |  published on May 6, 2013

Shooting Plastic Gun
Should we light our hair on fire about plastic guns made with 3D printers?

Too late for Senator Charles Schumer. The combustible New York Democrat is encouraging hysteria over the prospect of criminals using 3D printers to manufacture firearms, possibly to assassinate the president. “We’re facing a situation where anyone—a felon, a terrorist—can open a gun factory in their garage ,and the weapons they make will be undetectable,” Schumer said. “It’s stomach-churning.”

What’s stomach-churning is the way that gun foes get their facts wrong, undercutting their cause and distracting from serious discussions about fighting crime.

3D printers are machines that can use digital designs to build a variety of devices out of thousands of layers of hard plastic. Pro-gun activists have been talking about using 3D technology to make a functioning firearm. This week, a libertarian-minded outfit in Texas called Defense Distributed reportedly test-fired such a weapon. Thus Schumer’s severe indigestion. The lawmaker said he will push legislation that would extend an existing ban on “undetectable” weapons to cover guns made via 3D printers.

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