Monday Poll – When the First and Second Amendments Collide with 3D Printing

Posted: May 20, 2013 in Policing, Technology & Crime
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

If you’re interested in the technology field at all, you’ve almost certainly heard of 3D printing, which, according to Lisa Harouni, is a technology that “will change and disrupt the landscape of manufacturing, and most certainly our lives, our businesses and the lives of our children.”  That’s a pretty sweeping prediction, but we’re already seeing examples of how 3D printing has clashed with fundamental legal concepts, such as those memorialized in the Bill of Rights.

This is especially evident in printed objects, such as firearms, that raise both First Amendment and Second Amendment issues. A recent TechCrunch article on one company’s efforts to distribute plans for a printable handgun did an excellent job of laying out the various angles, including the relevant legal cases that point up the challenges in deciding these types of Constitutional questions.

Test firing of a 3D printed handgun 

To simplify, on one side are free speech advocates who make the claim that restricting access to printing plans, even for a handgun, amounts to a violation of the First Amendment’s guarantees regarding free speech. Just because a printing plans allows for the creation of a weapon does not give the government authority to censor the plans themselves, the argument goes. The plans are protected speech, even if the resulting firearms may ultimately be determined illegal.

On the other side are those who argue that criminals and terrorists now have an easy, cheap, and effective way of manufacturing nearly undetectable weapons. As a proof of that concept, two reporters in the U.K. actually manufactured a 3D printed handgun and smuggled it aboard the Eurostar rail line undetected. They had no ammunition, and they had also removed the firing pin from the gun, but their point was made: If they could do it, anyone could, including someone with criminal intent.

So, what is your position on this? Vote in this week’s poll and see the results!

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