Writing in the Daily Beast, Eleanor Clift talks about the gun control law (the Undetectable Firearms Act) that mandates guns be detectable by airport screeners. She then discusses how 3D printing of guns could neuter the law. She is right. The ability to print an all-plastic gun is a serious challenge to the Undetectable Firearms Act. However, it is completely unclear that Clift recognizes this fact. She ends her piece by stating:
For most people, there’s no upside to being able to manufacture firearms in your basement that you can then carry onto a plane. It would be nice if laws could keep up with the times, but leaving well enough alone may well be the price of victory on guns for this Congress.
Again, Clift is right – there is no upside for most people to carrying a concealed weapon on a plane. However, there is a BIG upside for terrorists in doing so. Those terrorists aren’t going to be stopped by the Undetectable Firearms Act. Moreover, the characterization of 3D printed guns as “ loopholes that make it possible to evade the law with new technologies” (Clift quoting White House assistant press secretary Matt Lehrich) demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of what is happening here. 3D printed guns are not loopholes, they are technological advances that will render the law completely obsolete. As long as manufacturing of a plastic gun required sophisticated techniques, it can be controlled. Once a (truly) functional plastic gun can be created by the push of a button the law is finished. It may exist, but it offers no protection. To stop plastic guns from winding up on planes requires new, innovative technologies, not legislation.