Is it wise to ban 3D printing of guns?

So there’s this thing call “3D printing” where you can melt plastic and create layer after layer in order to get a 3D object.

Turns out you can make real, fireable guns using 3D printing.

Here’s my question: do you think making guns should be banned?

I tend to think even if it is banned, it won’t fundamentally stop dangerous people from making them. And what if hunters or marksmen can create more affordable weapons and practice their art?

It’s a difficult question. More data is needed on 1) Whether such banning decreases our artistic license and freedom of creation and 2) Whether banning actually reduces dangerous behavior.

Kev Sheldrake has pointed out that some of his informed friends believe that a 3D printed gun would not be able to survive more than one round.

However, it’s been concretely shown that 3D printed guns can survive more than one round.

The frightening part of plastic guns is not just that they can be made for cheap with a 3D printer, some plastic, and the blueprints, but that these guns can pass through metal detectors unnoticed.


  1. Countries that criminalise ownership of guns tend to have very low incidents of accidental gun death; countries that support civilian ownership of guns tend to have a much higher incidence of accidental gun death. The solution is to ban guns altogether.

  2. At the same time though Kev, how do we know the actual cause of these gun deaths? Perhaps it’s gangs fighting with other gangs because of the illegality of drugs. You say it’s accidental gun deaths and you’re probably right and that statistic is true, but I’d like to know the process by which they determine what is accidental.

    Regardless, I think technological innovation will always outpace government’s ability to adapt. I really don’t see government in a hundred years looking like it does now. I could be wrong, but with the Arab Spring revolutions in the past few years, things might change relatively quickly. Of course, I really don’t believe in long-term predictability of the universe as far as small-scale events go. A supernova light-years away can change the gravitational field here on Earth and set off a change reaction totally unexpected.

    I think the real solution is what Larry Page (cofounder of Google) recently said:

    “There’s many, many exciting and important things you could do that you just can’t do ’cause they’re illegal or they’re not allowed by regulation. And that makes sense, we don’t want our world to change too fast. But maybe we should set aside some small part of the world. … I think as technologists we should have some safe places where we can try out some new things and figure out: What is the effect on society? What’s the effect on people? Without having to deploy it into the normal world. And people who like those kinds of things can go there and experience that.”

    I especially like the idea of seasteading and the project, where we build platforms or ships off the coast of places like Silicon Valley and try truly innovative solutions on the issue of human cooperation.

  3. To give an example of silly statistics, I’m pretty sure drunk driving accidents will even include sober drivers that crash into drunk drivers, even when the drunk driver is otherwise following the rules of the road. If there is any involvement of alcohol at all it becomes a mark against drunk driving. I may be wrong, but that’s what I’ve heard.

    Not that I in any way, shape, or form support driving while intoxicated.

  4. Regarding drunk driving statistics again, the silliness I may be remembering is that a sober driver with a drunk passenger in a car that crashes is counted among “alcohol-related accidents”.

    If so, this is just plain misleading, and this blog (No Lies Please) is heavily against such tactics.

  5. Travis

    I don’t own any guns, but I’m not against owning guns. I don’t think a gun ban is an answer for many reasons. In regards to only “accidental” gun deaths, I see that as being similar to accidental pool drownings. When one chooses to purchase a gun or a pool, they must weigh that the cost may end up being paid with someone’s life, maybe their own child’s. I don’t own a pool either btw. I don’t think we should ban guns based on the accidental death argument anymore than we should ban pools. Life is risk, removing all risk would hardly make life worth living.

    We just need to severely, and consistently persecute abusive and neglectful gun owners, much in the way we would a drunk driver who causes a death, or the way would persecute a neglectful parent who willfully doesn’t take proper precautions with pool safety.

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