Pollster warns against rush to regulate 3D printing

Pollster Emily Ekins is warning lawmakers against rushing to regulate 3D printing amid a debate over blueprints to make plastic untraceable guns.

Ekins, the director of polling at the CATO Institute, said regulations could hinder other important uses for 3D technology, including in the medical field.

“It’s pretty new technology, and I think a lot of people might be unfamiliar with what that even is. But the thing is that 3D printers have the capacity to print … other items that can be really useful in the medical fields and in other areas of technology,” she told Hill.TV's Joe Concha on "What America's Thinking." 

“I think what we need to look for is if people are going to use this issue to try to regulate the use of 3D printers," she continued. 

"So it’s not just about whether people can use these printers to print 3D guns," said Ekins. "What if we prevent people from being able to use these printers as technology that can really help benefit the lives of other people." 

A Texas-based company, Defense Distributed, sparked a firestorm earlier this week when it said that it would provide blueprints for 3D printing guns.

Several states vowed to sue over the move, leading the company to announce Tuesday that it would not release the gun blueprints.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump threatens ex-intel official's clearance, citing comments on CNN Protesters topple Confederate monument on UNC campus Man wanted for threatening to shoot Trump spotted in Maryland MORE had also said he would look into the issue.

A Democratic bill in the Senate would have sought to bar anyone from publicly releasing those blueprints, but was blocked by Republican Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway Lee2020 hopefuls skeptical of criminal justice deal with Trump Sentencing reform deal heats up, pitting Trump against reliable allies Senate gets to work in August — but many don’t show up MORE (R-Utah), who raised First Amendment concerns.

Seventy-nine percent of voters said it should be illegal to provide people with the blueprints, according to a new American Barometer poll. 

 — Julia Manchester