I remember lots of my first experiences with new technologies. The first time I heard a compact disc, the song was “All She Wants To Do Is Dance” by Don Henley, and it was during a meal stop at a mall on an Oxford High School marching band trip. The first time I saw honest-to-goodness video on a computer screen was about 1990 on a Macintosh II at Madison Books and Computers, and it was only about two inches wide—but it was video. Cool.
One that hit me harder than usual was the first time I saw a 3D printer in action. It was at a Solid Edge user conference. It was by a company called Z Corporation, which I thought was quite clever (Z-axis, get it?). I don’t remember what it cost, but it was enough that I didn’t want to touch it (even though the booth babe was encouraging me to). And it was taking a CAD file and a handful of powder as input and spitting out a part I could hold in my hand.
Wow. I was blown away.
Today I read that someone has 3D-printed and successfully tested most of a gun—a .22 pistol, to be exact. Now clearly you can’t 3D-print a working chamber using plastic resin as the medium, so that part was commercial (and metal, obviously). But, dig: as the article explains, it’s the part the guy printed that is legally regulated.
So the future that is developing is one in which background checks and so forth will be increasingly irrelevant, because a guy who can’t buy a gun from a licensed dealer will be able to make one.
This causes me no particular consternation, partially because a bad guy who wants a gun now clearly has little problem getting one, and partially because I think people ought to carry pistols like they carry pocket knives. I do think it’s important that we pay very close attention to how this situation develops, and particularly to how it might be “addressed” in Congress. I fear this has potential to be the greatest sustained assault on the Second Amendment we’ve ever seen.