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Are 3D-printed guns legal?

3D-printing allows people to render all sorts of objects in the comfort and privacy of their own homes. This burgeoning technology has also been used to create components of working guns, which has resulted in many questions regarding the legality of these weapons. USA Today explains some of the legal issues revolving around 3D-printed guns and how these issues are being addressed.

3D printers are projected to revolutionize manufacturing. These devices can create three-dimensional objects without the need for dies or molds, which may greatly reduce costs for a number of industries. With 3D printing, items are created by combining layers of plastic or other materials until an object takes form. With weapons, individual components are printed and assembled to create a working gun.

A major issue with 3D-printed guns is that one can acquire a weapon without undergoing a background check. Additionally, 3D guns don’t have serial numbers. That means if one is used to commit a crime, it may be impossible for law enforcement to track it down. They’re also not detectable by security scanners since they have no metal components, which has caused serious concerns in airports and other secure locations.

It’s already legal to assemble guns from component parts in your own home. However, these guns are meant for personal use only, since they also have issues with traceability due to the lack of serial number and other identifying characteristics. Advocates for 3D-printed guns say that it’s unlikely criminals would use them, since it would be far cheaper and easier to simply steal a weapon to commit a crime. While some 3D printers are affordable, the ones capable of creating a working firearm cost tens of thousands of dollars or possibly more.