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Would A 3D-Printed Gun Really Be Legal?

Publication Date: 
March 21, 2013
Zach Miners

Professor John Donohue spoke with ComputerWorld's Zach Miners about the legality of a 3D-printed gun and why he doesn't doesn't expect to see any federal initiatives on it until "something goes wrong." 

Defense Distributed, the pro-gun nonprofit working to make 3D-printable gun designs freely available to everyone on the Internet, recently inched one step closer toward achieving that goal. The Austin, Texas-based group last week was granted a federal firearms license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

"I can now sell the things we make, and am before the law a manufacturer, not a private citizen with regard to these items," said Cody Wilson, the group's young CEO, a self-described "crypto-anarchist" who is also a law student at the University of Texas.


"Teenagers, people convicted of felonies or who have drug and alcohol problems, and criminal enterprises ... This is a step in the wrong direction if it makes guns more available to them," said John Donohue, a professor of law at Stanford.

In particular, "troubled teenagers could see this as the next 'cool thing,'" he said.


"I doubt we'll see any major federal initiatives until something goes wrong," Stanford's Donohue said.