It's no secret that 3d printed guns have been seen as problematic by federal authorities. Last year, the State Department sent a letter to a Texas based non-profit that published files for a 3d printable firearm that they'd have to obtain special permission from the government before those files could be allowed on the web.
What has ensued since has been a legal battle between the non-profit Defense Distributed and the federal government covering the 1st amendment, the 2nd amendment and the Arms Export Control Act.
The State Department is arguing that "technical data" (the 3d printable file) for guns would violate federal laws on the exporting of arms and therefore groups such as Defense Distributed will need approval before they go ahead with publishing such data.
“Just because information can be used for some bad purpose doesn’t make it illegal to publish it,” an export control lawyer representing Defense Distributed told Wired last year. “This isn’t just a firearms case, even though it deals with firearms. It’s really a free speech case.”
Now, as a group of UN diplomats gather in New York this week as part of their biennial meeting to curb the spread of small arms and ammunition around the world, officials have decided to focus on 3d printable guns as an issue of significant importance.
The Chair of the Program of Action - the UN group responsible for reigning in small arms ownership around the world - calls for "strengthening 3D printing regulations in the context of 3D weapon printing,” in it's summary ahead of the meeting.
They call for "ensuring export licenses are in place for 3D printers," along with "the need to pay attention to the resale of such printers,” and “strengthening controls over 3D printing technology.”
Groups such as Defense Distributed which are already defending themselves against what they see as a violation of their second amendment rights probably won't love the idea of the United Nations trying to impose rules on firearms inside the US.
They can take solace in the fact that the UN admits on its own website that "The Program of Action on small arms lacks a framework to support its implementation."