We get that people are all kinds of paranoid about 3D printed guns. I understand that some people will remain against the printed firearm for the remainder of their lives, often for no good reason. They just don’t like guns.

However, we see where the endgame for their activism will likely end up, and that’s a ban on even possessing the files.

In 2015 New South Wales amended its laws to outlaw the possession of digital blueprints for firearms and strengthen existing laws prohibiting the manufacture of weapons.

The technology has not yet advanced to allow the creation of a complete working weapon at the ‘press of a button’. However, the novelty plastic 3D-printed Liberator has served to distract from the more deadly parts-assembly hybrid models that home-made weapon tinkerers were creating.

Criminals are often early adopters and exploiters of new technology, and crime typically follows opportunities. This means that as the costs and difficulties recede with rapid improvements in 3D printing, we can expect more criminal interest.

The handful of Australian cases already noted will steadily grow – driven not by a ‘right to bear arms’ ideology as in the US, but by the vagaries of firearm supply and the incessant demand for weapons for criminal enterprises. Theft of firearms from licensed gun dealers, residences and rural properties has rapidly increased in the past decade.

Illicit crypto-markets or Tor darknets also provide another vector for weapon supply, facilitated by crypto-currencies and stealth packaging plus the separation of parts well-adapted to circumvent postal and customs inspections.

New South Wales laws that have prohibited possession of digital firearms blueprints need to be extended nationally. Despite the apparent futility of preventing the dissemination of digital firearm blueprints, possession offences may help to deter ‘lone wolf’ extremists as well as adding to the preventative toolbox of law enforcement.

The problem with this is that this is an unenforceable law.

For one thing, millions of people already possess these files but have little to no intention to use them. They have them because some people don’t want them to. That includes people in Australia, I’m quite sure.

For another, it’s a simple matter to rename files. If someone has a pile of 3D printer files on their hard drive, someone will have to physically look at each one and see what it’s designed to make. In some cases, that can take days or weeks, all to see if they might have committed a crime. That’s beyond ridiculous.

The biggest thing to remember, though, is that this might be happening in Australia, but if we don’t fight this nonsense now, it will happen here as well. Anti-gunners will do anything and everything they can to keep guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens, and that includes the files that would allow one to make a firearm if they choose.

The kicker is that criminals will still get guns. They’ll either print them or get them by some other means. They don’t care about the law in the first place.

Not that such a point has ever made it through their thick skulls.