The machines to print them are still relatively expensive (over a grand), and therefore uncommon.
But that will change, their price is coming down. While we have some time, within 5-10 years, that time may run out.
So let's assume a thriving community of millions rep-rap devices easily and cheaply available for less than $500.
Right now the Government is trying to block the downloading. I don't think that's a good idea.
So, there are the following issues:
- First amendment (on top of the 2nd)
- The infeasibility of blocking the information because it is now also available in servers outside of the USA
- The fact that the new plastic guns often look like toys. (Resulting in cops shooting kids with actual toys because they thought they were printed guns)
Now let's talk about possible real solutions to prevent widespread possession of downloaded guns by criminals, depressed people, the mentally unstable and children.
Note that last category. Children, even pre-teens , will be perfectally capable of building a gun in this situation. While you may want adults to be able to print one out, as well as your own possible kids, what about others?
Very few people will be willing to let EVERY SINGLE kid in junior high school have access to a gun printing device.
Especially as they may leave them around for their younger kids to play with.
So here are some reasonable legal solutions to this coming problem.
- Make it a new federal offense to print, paint or even posses a real working gun that is not painted/printed in a dark color. Sorry, we need to protect the kids, you give up certain colors to be used solely by children. This would be an add-on offense, counting as a separate felony for making it and for possessing it. Similarly, they should continue to, by law, require a metal implant to aid metal detectors. Printing, selling, or even possessing one without such an insert would be an add-on felony., 10 years, no parole. Why? Because you do this only to hide a crime.
- Pass a law that states while you can legally download gun plans, the government has the legal right to track your IP address, and doing so is considered sufficient evidence for a federal warrant if that IP address is associated with anyone that is on the government's "can not legally buy a gun". (Note, it's already legal for the government to track your IP address, this just makes it clear that a warrant is justified.)
- When such a blueprint is downloaded, the government has the right to send a message to the IP address daily for 3 weeks notifying the IP address that a gun has been downloaded. This is to let parents know that their children may have done so.
- Any commercial business that lets customers rent their 3D printers should legally be required to prevent people from printing guns without first undergoing a background check.
- If you print a gun and then sell it, you need a license - even for a single gun. Otherwise people could claim they only sold 1, when in fact they sold 1,0000. This rule would only apply to selling printed guns, not to selling regular guns.