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What Does Obama Know About 3D-Printed Guns?

It might not be this year, but working 3D-printing into the gun control debate will have to happen sooner or later.

It's been just over two months since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and the once-raging debate over gun control has slowed to a sputter. It's not so much that people aren't talking about how to fix our country's gun-violence problem. In a way, the gun control conversation has folded into itself, and the conversation's shifted not toward figuring out what we missed. Assault-rifle ban? Check. High-capacity-magazine ban? Check. Better background checks? Check. 3D-printed gun regulation? Wait, is anybody talking about 3D-printed gun regulation?

The answer is yes. There is at least one congressman who's forward-thinking enough to address the increasingly urgent need to clarify the questionable legality of 3D-printed guns. Representative Steve Israel, a New York Democrat, wants to ban "homemade, 3D-printed, plastic high-capacity magazines" with an amendment to the Undetectable Firearms Act, a law due to expire next year that is meant to do away with weapons that can sneak through metal detectors.

Israel has been very careful to say that he does not intend to impose any bans on 3D printing itself, just the very specific situation that would enable people to print weapons they could carry on to a plane. "I’m not seeking to regulate or reduce the use of 3D printers at all," Israel told Forbes this week. "This isn’t about 3D printers. It’s about the use of a 3D printer to manufacture a weapon that can’t be detected by metal detectors."

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