Ottawa keeps watchful eye on how U.S. deals with blueprints for 3D-printed guns

The federal government says it is keeping close watch on how the US is dealing with the idea of allowing blueprints for making 3D-printed guns to be published online.

People can use such blueprints to manufacture plastic guns that fire real bullets using a 3D printer.

Public Safety Canada says there are rules already in place to prevent unauthorized weapons from being made.

Legal wrangling in the US around 3D-printed firearms dates back to 2013, when Texas-based Defence Distributed started publishing downloadable gun blueprints online.

The plastic guns are easy to hide and difficult to trace.

Washington ordered the company to stop, but later said such files would be allowed to be posted again, but yesterday a federal judge issued a restraining order to stop the release of the blueprints, saying they could end up in the wrong hands.

University of Calgary professor Lisa Silver says authorities need to find a balance between making sure 3D printing technology is allowed to flourish for beneficial uses, while restricting potentially dangerous activity.