The rise of 3D printers presents unique regulatory challenges in many areas, particularly firearm regulations. The Texas non-profit, Defense Distributed, successfully developed a 3D printable lower receiver for the AR-15 assault rifle and a 3D .380 pistol capable of firing eight rounds. Current regulations cannot meaningfully govern the 3D printing of guns without an effective means of controlling and standardizing the distribution of the CAD files online. This Note argues that the existing regulatory scheme, which governs the dissemination of technical data related to firearms, unconstitutionally restricts expression. The regulatory scheme gives broad discretion to licensing officials, and fails to provide the necessary procedural protections for a licensing system that operates as a prior restraint on speech, including prompt judicial review. The International Traffic in Arms Regulations (“ITAR”) and the First Amendment thus create a constitutional catch-22 because courts will likely decline to engage in judicial review of licensing determinations under the political question doctrine.
Anthony M. Masero, I Came, ITAR, I Conquered: The International Traffic in Arms Regulations, 3D-Printed Firearms, and the First Amendment, 55 B.C.L. Rev. 1291 (2014), https://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/bclr/vol55/iss4/8