Legitimate Concerns Facing 3D Printing Technology
This research journal article discusses how 3D Printing technology may effect federal firearms regulations. The focus of the article is that, due to the development of 3D Printing technology, individuals, even people without technical expertise, now have the ability to use the new technology to produce guns at home much more easily than they ever have before. This behavior might bring great harm to society. However, if a comprehensive prohibition on using 3D Printers to manufacture personal weapons were implemented, it might defy the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller Supreme Court decision. In fact, the increasing popularity of 3D Printing means lawmakers must decide soon whether or not to allow 3D Printing of weapons. 3D Printing either should only be allowed to produce things that cannot be used as lethal weapons.
Or, secondly, it can be used to produce a physical, working gun. The second option might achieve advances in 3D printing technology and promote the development of firearms design. However, developments in 3D Printing technology are creating concerns that not only legitimate consumers but also criminals are able to “print” firearms at home. If the law doesn’t allow individuals to use 3D printers to manufacturer personal weapons like handguns, it might be illegal according to the Second Amendment of the Constitution, a provision which protects the right of individuals to possess firearms under the law. Specifically, under the 2nd Amendment individuals may have the right to create their own firearms for self-defense, and the right to the manufacture firearms technology and materials. Analysis and Critique
In fact, 3D Printing technology is not brand new. This technology has been undergoing development for more than a decade. The reason it became more popular recently is because of decreasing usage costs, so more and more individuals have the opportunity to own 3D Printers for personal use. In my analysis and critique of this journal article, I will focus on three different areas: how well does it deliver information to the reader, how the product will evolve in the future, and what is my opinion of concern about 3D Printing technology relate to firearms production after reading this journal article.
First of all, this article is well organized and divided into four parts. The first part introduces what 3D Printing is, and how it is possible to produce firearms using the technology. The second part explains why the sale and production of firearms are limited under federal regulations, and provides an overall outlook of the firearm industry. Part three includes explanations of how 3D printers may change firearms production. Finally, Part four describes the constitutional right to bear arms, and it also analyzes the extent to which Heller’s case may limit prohibitions on 3D Printing. Moreover, this article provides other critical information to explain key points. It is a very valuable introduction for a reader without a background in the subject who might not be very familiar with the IT industry or with the relevant legislation. Based on the data and supporting details provided by the author, readers will have a basic idea of the fundamental issues concerning the intersection of 3D Printing and weaponry. As a result, it relates the technology to big concerns about public security, and the author gives great examples of the various legal arguments on the topic. Therefore, I think this article is a valuable qualitative article that can expand people’s knowledge on the subject.
Secondly, besides concerns about guns, there are no other disadvantages to the improvement of 3D Printing, which will make the operating cost of the technology increasingly cheap. Jensen-Haxel explains how 3D Printing actually works in his article:
The process begins with a digital 3D model created using Computer Added Design (“CAD”) software. The software automatically slices the model into a stack of thin horizontal cross-sections about 0.1mm in height. The, 3D printer then builds the physical model by depositing material layer by layer.
At the same time, 3D Printers are getting smaller and smaller, which will make it easier for consumers to have their own machines at home. This changes the old production model. Nowadays, people are allowed to produce whatever they want using a 3D Printer, all they need are the required data and materials. In fact, because of the development of the Internet, it is
easier than ever for people to find these resources online. Evans states that:
The quickest way to get started with 3D printing is simply to find models online that others have already created and shared on the Internet. The online 3D printing community is growing all the time, so more and more things are being shared every day.
Therefore, the limitations of self-production have shifted from hardware difficulties to software or materials issues. The technology is becoming simpler to use, but it might harm light manufacturing industries because some designers may be able to use their own 3D Printers to produce a sample instead of finding established producers that use traditional manufacturing methods. Because of these improvements, the potential for 3D Printing is bright, but the light manufacturing industry might be negatively affected by it.
Finally, the author argues that the rapid improvement of 3D Printing and the increasing convenience for individuals to produce things with it is both a major concern and a tremendous possibility. Should individuals receive the right to do whatever they want with 3D Printing technology, even the ability to “print” firearms? The topic of gun safety has become especially relevant since the school shooting in Newton, Connecticut last year. More and more people are arguing about if the government should make some changes to firearms regulation.
Jensen-Haxel wrote in his article that: “As the power of production passes from industry to consumer, many areas of the law may be caught unprepared.” (P.448) Concerns about the rate of technological progress outpacing regulations are not limited to 3D Printing. Because of the relentless improvements to technology, more and more challenges will occur as regulators try to manage new technology. The fact is, in most cases, laws only change after a new problem occurs, which means that new products will often exist in a legal gray area before rules can be changed. How the government deals with this issue might be a big concern in the following decades.
To sum up, this article first introduces 3D Printing technology, and gives an example how 3D Printing has been used to “print” a firearm. As a result, the author relates this new technology to a regulatory concern. Within his argument, he provides lots of legal information, and then tries to point out a fact that some gray areas exist because regulation usually develops slower than a new technology can. Back to this article, is seems like the future of 3D Printing technology in unclear until the government resolves the legal issues concerning manufacturing weapons with this technology. Reference
Evans, B. (2012). Practical 3D printers: the science and art of 3D printing. New York: Apress. Jensen-Haxel, Peter (2012). 3D Printers, Obsolete Firearm Supply Controls, and the Right to Build Self-Defense Weapons Under Heller. Golden Gate University Law Review; May2012, Vol. 42 Issue 3, p447-496, 50p