On May 21, the Department of Homeland Security circulated a bulletin among federal and state law enforcement agencies warning that guns created on three-dimensional (3D) printers are probably beyond the reach of regulators.

The memo, uncovered by Fox News, said attempts to control the flow of such guns will be “useless” once “their manufacture becomes more widespread.”

Significant advances in [3D] printing capabilities, availability of free 3D printer files for firearms components, and difficulty regulating file sharing may present public safety risks from unqualified gun seekers who obtain or manufacture 3D printed guns.

The bulletin refers directly to print plans made available by Defense Distributed–nonprofit creators of a 3D gun called “The Liberator.” Although the U.S. State Department forced Defense Distributed to quit sharing the plan online, more than 100,000 of the plans were downloaded before the file sharing was stopped.

In light of this, the DHS bulletin concludes by indicating that limiting access to such firearms “may be impossible.”

Some officials outside of DHS have warned that these guns will beat magnetometers and that their proliferation will eventually lead to pat-downs at every event Americans attend. You may recall naysayers and gun control advocates saying the same things about Glock handguns when they began to hit the U.S. market in the late 1980s. Now Glock is one of the most popular and sought after handguns in America.

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