A patron of Millburn (N.J.) Free Public Library (MFPL) made headline news when he requested to use the facility’s 3D printer to create a part for an AR-15 rifle. The recent efforts by the Texas-based nonprofit Defense Distributed to publish blueprints for manufacturing 3D-printed guns have libraries across the country working to establish policies to block individuals from printing weapons. On July 31, US District Court Judge Robert Lasnik issued a temporary restraining order to block Defense Distributed from publishing the 3D-printed gun instructions online.  On Monday, August 27, Judge Lasnik issued an order reaffirming and extending the nationwide injunction barring the online dissemination of files for printing plastic weapons.  The injunction will remain in place until the state attorney generals’ case is resolved.

The library in Millburn showed the patron the policy that prevents “the printing of objects that are unsafe, harmful, dangerous, or pose an immediate threat to the safety and well-being of others.” The American Library Association (ALA) has drafted a resource for libraries to develop policies and best practices regarding the use of their 3D printers. ALA’s draft policy states that a possible settlement agreement on the Defense Distributed case is not binding on libraries and does not create a right to use those plans to create guns on library 3D printers in violation of library policy or in violation of the applicable law regulating the manufacture or distribution of guns in the United States, such as the law that makes it illegal to create or assist in the creation of a gun that is undetectable by X-ray machines or metal detectors.

In light of this situation, it would be a great time to revise your policies regarding weapons in the library, even if you don’t have a 3D printer. Using the above wording from Millburn or the links on ALA’s 3D printing site is a great place to start.

-Submitted by Sherry Machones