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California Lawmaker Wants 3-D Printers To Be Regulated 856

New submitter phrackthat writes with news that California State Senator Leland Yee (D-S.F.) says he wants regulations to track who owns and uses 3-D printers. Yee's comments come in response to the recent news of Defense Distributed's successful test-firing of a 3-D printed gun. "He's concerned that just about anyone with access to those cutting-edge printers can arm themselves. 'Terrorists can make these guns and do some horrible things to an individual and then walk away scott-free, and that is something that is really dangerous,' said Yee. He said while this new technology is impressive, it must be regulated when it comes to making guns. He says background checks, requiring serial numbers and even registering them could be part of new legislation that he says will protect the public. Yee added, 'This particular gun has no trace whatsoever.'"
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California Lawmaker Wants 3-D Printers To Be Regulated

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  • by El_Muerte_TDS ( 592157 ) on Saturday May 11, 2013 @07:02PM (#43698065) Homepage

    I'll bet you get a free gun when you buy one of those 3-D printers in some states.

    • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@gm ... minus herbivore> on Saturday May 11, 2013 @07:48PM (#43698451) Journal

      Lets just clear something up right now, gun bans have NEVER worked and will NEVER work because of one simple flaw in the logic. you see criminals? DON'T FOLLOW LAWS which is why they are called criminals, fucking duh!

      Take Mexico, a country with a 100% ban on guns, you can't even one a 22 in that country...are the criminals throwing rocks at each other? Nope they do like all the other criminals with connections and buy from the former USSR where you can buy a crate of RPGs for the cost of a used BMW and where you can get a case of AK47s thrown in with every purchase over $50k.

      This is as fucking retarded as trying to regulate or ban copper pipes because somebody might make a zip gun. I mean have you SEEN this "gun"? You are gonna be lucky if it fires even a single clip before being just trashed, in fact I've seen zip guns that make better weapons than this thing, and it took a $50,000 3D printer to make a gun that had less quality than what you can make in any machine shop for less than $200!

      I'm sorry but this entire thing is just fucking retarded, every major city like Chicago where they have made it practically impossible for a law abiding citizen to own a gun has become a criminal paradise and why not? Don't have to worry about prey fighting back when even the cops in these areas tell you "don't resist, just beg real nice after they are done raping and looting and maybe they won't kill you". Its fucking disgusting is what it is, we should be teaching people how to defend themselves from these fucking scum and instead we are creating a nation of prey, that is ALL they are, they are prey and the wolves will feed and feed well.

      • It is retarded.

        You can never regulate it - as you point out, it will not in any way stop criminals.

        There are ALREADY laws against owning undetectable guns. We do not need stupid regulations adding nothing.

        The republicans are in a pickle. If they support 3D gun printing, they hurt gun manufacturers, which is what they really are supporting ($$$$).

        The democrats are in a pickle. If they support banning 3D printing, they are making the case that they are indeed the big government control all party.

        • The republicans are in a pickle. If they support 3D gun printing, they hurt gun manufacturers, which is what they really are supporting ($$$$). Gun manufacturers rarely donate money and what they do is peanuts compared to what non-gun related businesses throw around.
      • by kbg ( 241421 )

        Mexico is a bad example, it is obvious the ban isn't enforced at all because all the criminals have weapons, and the reason is of course that the government and police are massively corrupt and are part of the criminal gangs themselves.

        • by anagama ( 611277 ) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Saturday May 11, 2013 @09:55PM (#43699175) Homepage

          And the US government is massively corrupt, not at the level of Mexico but there's one for that: "yet"

          It may be worth adding "inevitable" as well, because power is always corrupting. That's sort of the point of our (largely ignored) Constitution -- it was designed to shackle government because the greatest threat anyone ever faces, is their own government grown too fat and too powerful.

          • by KGIII ( 973947 )

            I can't really pin point exactly when it happened but, at some point, things changed. When the Constitution was authored it was a list of enumerated powers - it was a list of things that the government had the power to do. It has become, in practice, a list of things the government can't do (meaning that they think they can do anything not specifically prohibited). The differences between those two are vast and important.

      • by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Saturday May 11, 2013 @08:49PM (#43698871) Journal

        Take Mexico, a country with a 100% ban on guns...

        ...and an extremely poor record of enforcing its laws. Why not try a European country like the UK which has extremely strict gun laws and a record of strict enforcement. Wikipedia provides a nice table [wikipedia.org] of the rate of gun deaths per 100,000 people and we find that the US has 10.20 and the UK 0.25 i.e. over 40 times fewer people are killed in the UK by guns even accounting for the difference in population. Worse, if you just look at gun murders (i.e. exclude suicides and accidents) the US rate is 80 times that in the UK.

        We all agree that government restrictions are to be avoided whenever possible but in the case of gun control there is a clear trade off: either you have strict controls (with strict enforcement) or you have an exceedingly high rate of deaths due to guns. If the US is happy with one of the highest rate of gun deaths in the world then that's its choice: it knows one reliable way to reduce it if it so chooses.

        That being said controlling 3D printers because of this is just daft. You can almost certainly make a gun with a CNC machine (in fact a quick Google search turned up this video [youtube.com]). They have not controlled these so why should a 3D printer be any different? They can machine plastic just as easily if the sole concern is detectability.

      • by spasm ( 79260 ) on Saturday May 11, 2013 @08:52PM (#43698885) Homepage

        Err.. a) Mexico doesn't have a total ban on guns (gun ownership is a constitutionally protected right), it's just been limted to purchasing from a single army-run shop in Mexico City; b) Mexico happens to have this large nation to the immediate north with relatively limited small arms gun control, and the border heading south is only marginally guarded; so unsurprisingly c) The US Justice Department estimates 70% of guns recovered from Mexican cartels were legally purchased in the US. http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5guv1zxttoSAF-NOJzZkAJV2R93mg [google.com]

        I wouldn't be shocked to hear cartels are also buying abroad, but why bother when you can get most of what you need immediately to the north?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Hentes ( 2461350 )

        I live in Europe where we don't have school shootings or kids blowing themselves up with their father's gun. So yes, gun control works.

    • by BoRegardless ( 721219 ) on Saturday May 11, 2013 @08:07PM (#43698587)

      3D guns are ludicrous to anyone who has ever used 3D printers and knows anything about the tolerances, surface finish and strengths needed for a gun.

      Any criminal can by a top quality gun for far less than the software and printer needed to make a 3D printed toy plastic so-called gun.

      Politicians have no clue as to the real world.

    • by GrpA ( 691294 ) on Saturday May 11, 2013 @08:15PM (#43698619)

      The parent should be moderated "insightful" not "funny"...

      If Michael Moore hasn't made a documentary about the dangers of 3D printers, but politicians are screaming like it's a TEOTWAWKI level event, it kind of puts things in perspective.

      But you know, I can't really blame politicians for being unusually stupid in this situation. I've seen more uninformed posts on Slashdot, that anywhere else on this topic. Building and shooting a gun with a 3D printer is on about the same level as sticking a bullet in a short piece of metal pipe and hitting it with a hammer. Sure, it's possible, but it's not particularly smart and isn't going to be very effective either.

      Much of the below discussion has little to do with rational fears. 3D printed gun control has become the latest straw man for the greater agenda of anyone who has a firearm phobia.

      As someone who does actually build controlled munitions-list items using 3D printers ( legitimately, with appropriate permits and documentation on export ) I know that there aren't really any threats posed to society caused by 3D printing. Yet, the international restrictions that already exist around what I do with 3D printing on a weekly basis adversely affect amateur participation in scientific fields such as astronomy. These is an area in which 3D printing could significantly benefit society that is significantly affected by ITAR, as low-light equipment is controlled. The same laws that affect me caused DEFCAD's files to be taken offline - not that that wasn't easy to see coming. I'm sure they'll find a way to get most of their stuff back online though if they choose to.

      So why is there so little debate on why people should be able to print anything they like? Why aren't people arguing that defence related materials that are 3D printed have little and limited military use? Why are so few people defending DEFCAD's work, when most of what they are doing breaks no laws? At least not what's contained within the US?

      In many ways, their video [defcad.com] makes a lot of sense. And it should have particular relevance to those who hold high the ideals of open source.

      Slashdot used to be a place where the more informed minds came to discuss worthy topics of contemporary news. Lately I'm starting to realize though just how much this is no longer the case.


    • I'm wondering why no one has called out Yee's claims that one can walk away "scott-free" after doing "horrible things".

      Did our laws suddenly change regarding firearms? I hadn't heard.

      I think we should also regulate CNC mills. Because someone could make something bad with one.

      Yee is a muppet.

  • Terrorists? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kk49 ( 829669 ) on Saturday May 11, 2013 @07:06PM (#43698083)

    I don't think doing something horrible to an individual qualifies as terrorism. In my day we call those people criminals.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ColdWetDog ( 752185 )

      If you don't think that criminals are terrorists, then you must be a communist. Or at least a socialist.

      How does it feel, comrade?

  • Horrible things? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by erotic_pie ( 796522 ) on Saturday May 11, 2013 @07:09PM (#43698103) Homepage
    Wouldn't most "horrible things" that you would do with a gun be illegal? Meaning you wouldn't be able to walk away scott-free.

    Unless there is some crazy loophole that says if you kill someone with an unregistered homemade gun it's 100% legal. Which if that's the case I don't think it's the 3D printer that is the problem.

    Also, I guess this means it's time to start regulating CNC machines as well.
  • by meerling ( 1487879 ) on Saturday May 11, 2013 @07:11PM (#43698119)
    Before 3d printers, people that wanted a cheap and lousy gun without buying a real one would just assemble one from some metal pipes and other junk, the old Saturday Night Special, Zip Gun, or Junk Gun.
    As to passing through metal detectors, who really cares, after all anyone that can't afford a real gun from illegal sources isn't going to be going into the areas 'protected' by metal detectors.
  • by kawabago ( 551139 ) on Saturday May 11, 2013 @07:11PM (#43698123)
    Guns and explosives are easy to get thanks to America's right to bear arms. The representative would have 3d printer regulation before gun regulation? That makes absolutely no sense at all. Since 3d printers can be made by hobbyists at home, effective regulation is impossible. Not to mention that firing a 3d printed gun as a proof of concept and having an effective weapon are two very different things. A car is a far more dangerous weapon than a 3D printer. Are you afraid to drive?
  • by Antony T Curtis ( 89990 ) on Saturday May 11, 2013 @07:12PM (#43698133) Homepage Journal

    Why not regulate lathes? They can be used to make a barrel of a high powered rifle.
    Why not regulate mills? They can be used to make land mines.
    Why not regulate sheet metal? They can be used to make the skin of missiles.
    Why not regulate screwdrivers? They can be used to make bombs.

    Why not just regulate and put a serial number in each and every bullet manufactured? I doubt that anyone would be able to 3D-print a bullet and its charge for many years to come.

  • I've recently been musing on the idea that the reason for the Fermi Paradox and a huge point against Kurweilz's optimism that we'll reach the Singularity in a just couple of decades, is that a civilization's regulatory agencies are so slow to react to technological advances. If lawmakers don't allow 3D printers to flourish, then there won't be the consumer demand that motivates the next generation of printer, and the one after that, etc. Eventually the environment will be too fucked and the natural resources exhausted before humanity can develop the technology to transcend its limitations.
  • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Saturday May 11, 2013 @07:34PM (#43698337)

    Wait until he sees one of the 3D Lego Printers, then he'll want to regulate Legos too. 8 year old kids will have to pass a security check to purchase a set of Legos.

  • "Protection" is a disease. The government is not obliged to protect you. Congress has upheld that police are not required to protect you. Protecting yourself and your family is your responsibility. Life is dangerous. Be prepared. More folks die in car crashes, we don't ban cars or streets. Zip-Guns made of junk can kill you, hell, a plastic knife can kill you if sharpened properly, a broken window tied to a stick is a lethal weapon of opportunity. Limiting freedom should never be the answer to fear. The answer is to simply be aware of the danger you face in every day life, and protect yourself. Regulations like these are cancerous leaches of tax-payer money.

    We really need to change the 2nd amendment, or create a new one clarifying that we have the right to bear technology, cryptography, photography, computers, and firearms included.

  • by FuzzNugget ( 2840687 ) on Saturday May 11, 2013 @07:51PM (#43698479)

    "He's concerned that just about anyone with access to those products can arm themselves by tearing out sharp edges as makeshift knives. 'Terrorists can make these knives and do some horrible things to an individual and then walk away scott-free, and that is something that is really dangerous ... it must be regulated when it comes to making knives. He says background checks, requiring serial numbers and even registering them could be part of new legislation that he says will protect the public. Yee added, 'This particular knife has no trace whatsoever.'"

    Look, honorable dumbass, just because it's technological doesn't give you a free pass to enforce your own personal brand of oppression.

    Just because it's not (easily) traceable doesn't automatically mean they'll get away with it, it just means that police might have to do some actual detective work rather than having the techno-nanny hold their hand. Shocking, I know.

    We cannot expel these xenophobes from office soon enough.

  • by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Saturday May 11, 2013 @08:02PM (#43698551) Homepage Journal
    you will be able to print your own lego pieces
  • by aristotle-dude ( 626586 ) on Saturday May 11, 2013 @08:16PM (#43698633)
    Funny how, "lawmakers" seem to often ignore the "law" of the land. The American constitution is supposed to be the measuring stick/regulations by which other laws are judged. If they do not measure up, they have to be repealed.

    A democracy stops working for the benefit for all as soon as people stop ignoring the constitution.

    When the laws are working for the benefit of all, some people will not be happy and some people will not get what they want. I know some of you believe that guns are evil but criminals will always find a way to procure guns. The majority of gun related violence is perpetrated by criminals. When I say gun violence, I am not just talking about deaths but also non-lethal injuries and use of guns for intimidation. The anti-gun people are too focused on individual stats and do not stop to consider armed robberies where nobody gets shot during the robbery. That is still a use of guns as a weapon to intimidate/coerce others into doing something against their will.

  • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Saturday May 11, 2013 @08:16PM (#43698637)
    Does Leland Lee really not realize you can use a 3D printer to build a 3D printer?!?
  • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Saturday May 11, 2013 @08:45PM (#43698841)

    Unlike the (beautiful troll as was intended) 3D printed weapon, here and elsewhere you can find plans for the real deal.

    http://www.cncguns.com/downloads.html [cncguns.com]

    Note that paper prints are more than sufficient to machine modern firearms. About 2000 bucks gets you a used manual milling machine. About the same gets you a lathe. You can use those to build a machine to cut a rifled bore if you wish. It's very old technology.

    Remember the DeCESS T-shirt? Weapon prints can be protected speech too. They can also be incorporated into fiction as an illustration.

  • by rasmusbr ( 2186518 ) on Saturday May 11, 2013 @09:03PM (#43698951)

    "Terrorists can make these guns and do some horrible things to an individual and then walk away scott-free [...]"

    Now I'm not an expert on American law and I'm not an American and English is not my native language, but it sounds just a little bit implausible to me that there would be a law that said that it is not illegal to murder people if you make the gun yourself...

    Or I guess maybe scott-free means something completely different than scot-free, like you're free like a character in a Scott movie, or something.

    Or maybe the senator's best friend owns a gun factory.

    Or I guess maybe the senator has a wildly inaccurate idea of what a 3-d printer is. I mean, it's probably easier to get fingerprints and DNA off of a metal gun than a plastic gun. A metal gun is really hard to destroy, but it would not exactly be trivial to destroy a plastic gun without the neighbors noticing.

    Unless you have a good quality file and a lot of time...

  • Wait! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Saturday May 11, 2013 @09:17PM (#43699015)
    Mr. Yee, what about banning pressure cookers? We've just proved even morons can make effective explosive devices out of pressure cookers!
  • Dismantling Utopia: How Information Ended the Soviet Union [google.com]

    Synopsis from Google Books, emphasis added:

    By the 1980s the Soviet Union had matched the United States in military might and far surpassed it in the production of steel, timber, concrete, and oil. But the electronic whirlwind that was transforming the global economy had been locked out by communist leaders. Heirs to an old Russian tradition of censorship, they had banned photocopiers, prohibited accurate maps, and controlled word-for-word even the scripts of stand-up comedians. In this compellingly readable firsthand account, filled with memorable characters, revealing vignettes, and striking statistics, Scott Shane tells the story of Mikhail Gorbachev's attempt to "renew socialism" by easing information controls. As newspapers, television, books, films, and videotapes flooded the country with information about the Stalinist past, the communist present, and life in the rest of the world, the Soviet system was driven to ruin. Shane's unique perspective also places one of the century's momentous events in larger context: the universal struggle of governments to keep information from the people, and the irresistible power of technology over history.

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. -- Wernher von Braun