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Are 3-D Printed Guns Really Legal?

jfruh (300774) writes | about a year and a half ago

Government 1

jfruh writes "Defense Distributed, a U.S. nonprofit that aims to make plans for guns available owners of 3-D printers, recently received a federal firearms license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobocco and Firearms. That license doesn't cover semi-automatic weapons and machine guns, though — and there are questions about whether the legislation that defines that license really apply to the act of giving someone 3-D printing patterns. Experts on all sides of the issue seemd to agree that no clarification of the law would happen until a high-profile crime involving a 3-D printed weapon was committed."
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Bollocks (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year and a half ago | (#43239413)

There might be "questions", but they don't come from anybody who knows much about the law.

DD obtained their license for the products they actually manufacture and test, not for the plans they develop. And if you did your homework you would know that the ATF told them they didn't even need that license. They said they got one anyway, just in case. But to be clear: the license is for the parts they built, not for the plans.

Information (including CAD drawings... and 3-D printer files are nothing more than a particular format of CAD drawing) is SPEECH, it is NOT illegal, and the government has no authority to restrict it, with the (questionable) exception of when it is "obscene" or when it is libelous.

You can go buy a book on how to convert your trusty .22 rifle to full-auto, complete with fully detailed engineering drawings of all the parts, and instructions how to do it. They are freely published, and you can freely by them, without restriction. The Supreme Court has ruled several times (beginning over 100 years ago) that the form of a written work is irrelevant. For example: a player-piano roll is no different in law than the sheet music it was created to play, regardless of the fact that it controls a machine. It is just a different form of the same music. Similarly, an engineering drawing and a 3D printer file are the same work, under the law. You can't restrict one without restricting the other.
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