(Un)lock and (Un)loaded: Regulating 3D-Printed Firearms in the Open-source Era after the 2013 Hysteria



3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is a fast-evolving technology that is transforming the way humans create things. Anyone can buy a 3D printer for private usage, allowing them to produce totally personalized things in the comfort of their own homes. One 3D-printed commodity, unfortunately, is provoking a huge debate: firearms. Any person may build a completely functional firearm only with a 3D printer, the necessary designs and filament. Thus, bypassing governmental licensing, registration, and fabrication regulations. A surge of scholarships appeared nine years back, alerting people about the dangers of 3D-printed firearms. Following the widespread hysteria, this work offers commentary on the issue of 3D-printed firearms, as well as lessons learnt for a better regulatory framework for these firearms. To establish effective regulatory oversight over illicit ownership and usage of 3D-printed guns, existing law may have to be enhanced. Furthermore, any prospective regulations will almost definitely be closely scrutinized in order to strike a balance between public security concerns and personal liberty. Additionally, many conceivable technological regulations would be unfeasible and would contradict the public interest objective of safeguarding technological development. To better control 3D-printed guns while preserving basic freedoms and technological development, a three-pronged approach has been proposed.

3D Printing Technology; 3D-Printed Guns; Additive Manufacturing; Firearms; Ghost Gun; Regulation

149 – 195
Author biography

David Tan

Batam International University

Assistant Professor in law, Faculty of Law, Batam International University (Batam, Indonesia)

School of Law, Pelita Harapan University (Tangerang, Indonesia)

The Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London, University of London (England, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)



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