As 3D printers become increasingly functional and accessible, various areas of the law will be ill equipped to handle the ramifications of such futuristic technology.
This technology will sneak up on current federal firearm laws and threaten to render any attempts at gun control obsolete. The lack of regulations to adequately police the 3D printing of weapons will have extreme effects on civil and criminal rights and liabilities. This note gives some background on the 3D printing process, provides an explanation of digitally manufactured firearms and discusses the current federal regulations at issue. In addition, it examines various approaches to and inherent flaws in regulating 3D printed weapons. The note also focuses on the policy implications and the heightened concern created with its application to criminal activity. Finally, it recommends an approach to 3D weapons manufacturing that balances the most critical individual and public policy concerns regarding this advanced technology.