The nation’s Founders didn’t have guns made on a 3-D printer in mind when they drafted the right to bear arms that appears in the Second Amendment.
Those who believe the Second Amendment confers an absolute right to own any weapon imaginable have the upper hand, with lawmakers beaten into submission by the gun industry and its chief lobby, the National Rifle Association. Now, rapidly advancing technology could shake profit-seeking gun makers while threatening greater social violence.
Cody Wilson, a University of Texas law student, recently test-fired a gun he made from plastic components produced on a three-dimensional printer. In a widely seen video, the self-styled libertarian showed that it could work.
Only one of the gun’s 16 pieces — the firing pin — was metal. An all-plastic model would be invaluable to those who want to elude metal detectors on the way to committing murder and mayhem.
Mr. Wilson fired several shots before his weapon broke down. He vows to perfect the process, so that anyone can download the plans online and produce the gun on a sophisticated printer. Although the cost of such a printer hovers around $8,000, it is likely to drop.
Americans who don’t want to see their country slip into the unregulated anarchy of undetectable guns made at home should be concerned. Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) says the nation must ban printable weapons: “A terrorist, someone who’s mentally ill, a spousal abuser, a felon can essentially open a gun factory in their garage.”
Home-printed guns might do what gun-control advocates evidently cannot — put a crimp in gun makers’ profits. But the price would be measured in lives.