3D printing, a new technology allowing users to "print" out plastic parts and tools, may face an innovation-stifling force: Congress. Specifically in the form of Rep. Steve Israel (D-IL) who's seeking to limit the technology to stem the proliferation of guns.
Israel is concerned that 3D printed plastic firearms can't be detected by conventional metal detectors. To fight this, Israel wants Congress to renew the Undetectable Firearms Act, a 1988 law banning plastic guns. The law expires late 2013.
It's uncertain how renewing the ban would directly affect 3D printing, but as Boing Boing's Cory Doctrow points out, the implications could be far-reaching for law-abiding 3D printers. Government officials would either have to construct new copyright laws covering the exchange of 3D blueprints, or force limits on the personal use of printers.
Fears of a 3D printed gun may be overstated as well. Printers can produce parts, like a receiver or a stock, necessary for a gun, but the effectiveness of such parts is dubious at best. The plastic used by most printers can't withstand the pressures from firing a gun repeatedly.
Via Boing Boing and NBC.