ABA Journal


Constitutional Law

State Dept. tells Texas law student to take down Web blueprints for 3-D printer to make plastic gun

May 10, 2013, 08:08 pm CDT


It seems ridiculous that the State Dep't has this sort of unchecked power without making some sort of prima facie showing that some law has actually been violated.

By Anonymous on 2013 05 10, 8:17 pm CDT

Pretend that the object in question is plans for making a nuclear bomb.

By AndytheLawyer on 2013 05 10, 10:43 pm CDT

@2: Why do we need to pretend the object is a plan for making a nuclear bomb? We know what it was and it was not a plan for a nuclear bomb.

By Marc on 2013 05 11, 1:19 am CDT


Because then the Administration doesn't have to pretend that they are acting on behalf of the firearms industry.

I wonder if this Texas law student will take the bar exam or "wrote the bar"? Did you wrote the bar, Marc?

By Doodle Dandy on 2013 05 11, 1:46 am CDT

I'm not trying to wade into the 2nd Amendment debate here....but correct me if I am wrong. I could print out a plastic gun, sneak a bit of metal onto a jumbo jet....and then I would have a gun on a jumbo jet. Is there something I don't understand here? Why on Earth would anyone want this technology freely available?

Not that there is any way to stop it at this point.

By Island Attorney on 2013 05 11, 1:26 pm CDT

@2: The hard part about making a nuclear bomb is getting the fissionable material, not designing the bomb. Anyone with a BS in Physics can tell you how to make a nuclear weapon, and how much fissionable material is needed. Actually, you don't even need to know that - critical masses for fissionable materials isn't even classified. You can see unclassified photos of spherical critical masses here:

The so-called 3d printer plastic gun is basically a zip gun - a piece of thick plastic with a 0.22 diameter hole in it to hold a 22 caliber shell, and a nail to strike the end. The rest, making it look like a more conventional gun, is all a facade. All of the hub-bub over it just shows how stupid and over reacting some people are. The Register has an analysis of the "Liberator" that illustrates (with photos) just how stupid this whole thing really is.

By Tyrone on 2013 05 11, 1:33 pm CDT

The US government has just demonstrated that in the modern era it is NOT possible to stop the free flow of INFORMATION. The plans are INFORMATION. Nothing more. The US Constitution guarantees the free flow of information. The Courts have said that, except for the identities of covert spies and the movement of troops before it happens, the free flow of information shall NOT be impaired. The government is just plain wrong here. There is NO national security issue. GUNS are freely available and can readily be hand tooled by many persons. IEDs are easy to make and way more deadly (Boston bombers anyone...Oaklahoma bombers?). The overreaction simply made the information more desirable to obtain and possess. 3D printers are rare now. The information is presently useless. The government just did what starlets do by suing to stop things from going public that never would have made e tabloids.

By Norma on 2013 05 11, 4:52 pm CDT

#7 -- A strip mall 3 miles from my house contains a business offering 3D printing services. In the absence of law forbidding it, I see no reason why it would not print a gun, or many guns, from these plans for me, or for any teenager or terrorist with a few bucks.

By AndytheLawyer on 2013 05 13, 3:11 pm CDT

@8: Like a nuclear bomb?

By Marc on 2013 05 13, 3:48 pm CDT

It doesn't seem to me that weapons which could be used to commandeer (and destroy) an airliner are a trivial matter if their design is intended to, or capable of, evading detection by the usual screening methods. Boxcutters aren't illegal at all, but can be detected. This thing, it would seem, would evade detection. Yes, what about the bullets, or the pin. But it is part of the deal.

By Walt Fricke on 2013 05 13, 8:33 pm CDT

And don't tell anyone about the ceramic knives either. Oooops. . .

By B. McLeod on 2013 05 13, 11:40 pm CDT


More like wrote the bar.

By Doodle Dandy on 2013 05 14, 1:42 am CDT

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