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First Page

51

Abstract

Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is a rapidly developing technology that is changing the way people manufacture goods. Individual consumers can purchase a 3D printer for their own personal use, providing them with the ability to create fully customizable products in the privacy of their own homes. However, there is one 3Dprinted product that is causing much controversy and debate: firearms. Armed with a 3D printer and the desired design and filament, an individual can print a fully functioning weapon, bypassing federal and state licensing, registration, and manufacturing requirements. There are statutes currently in effect that may offer some control over 3Dprinted guns; however, these statutes may need to be altered to provide adequate regulatory control over illegal possession and misuse of 3D-printed firearms. Additionally, any future regulations will almost certainly be scrutinized under both the First and Second Amendments, balancing public safety concerns with individual liberties. Moreover, many possible regulations of the technology itself would be impractical and run afoul of the public policy goal of protecting technological innovation. It is currently—and will likely always be—impossible to 3D-print gunpowder, a necessary component of a functioning firearm. Therefore, to best regulate 3D-printed firearms, while also protecting constitutional liberties and technological innovation, this Note proposes an expansion of the Brady Bill to require background checks for ammunition purchases. This is the most readily available remedy to the specific regulatory challenges posed by 3D-printed firearms, as amending the Brady Bill is relatively simple and less invasive for firearms dealers who already have access to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System used for firearms purchases.

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Link to publisher version (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.15779/Z38BG2H96S