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Broward Libraries Suspends 3D Printers To Create Safety Rules Around Guns

In July, a federal judge blocked the online publication of instructions for how to make guns with 3D printers.
Wikimedia Commons
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The national debate over 3D printed guns has reached Broward County. Starting Monday, Broward County's Library system suspended use of all 3D printers at its facilities, citing the need for extra caution and weapon concerns. 

The suspension was first reported by the Sun Sentinel. Broward libraries currently have seven printers that print 3D objects, in Pompano Beach, Coral Springs, and at the main library in Downtown Fort Lauderdale. Broward County Library Director Kelvin Watson doesn't know how long the printers will be off limits to the public. 

Watson told WLRN Monday that the library system is taking the break to provide staff with additional training on how the printers should be used, and how to handle any potential printing of weapons pieces, not only guns.

"Knives…guns…whatever is able to be printed," Watson said. 

This comes after a recent court battle to decide whether instructions for making 3D printed guns should be available online. 

In July, a federal judge blocked the publication of 3D gun instructions online, with a temporary restraining order.

While last week’s shooting in front of the Downtown Fort Lauderdale library didn’t prompt the suspension, Watson said it was cause for extra safety concern. On Aug. 7, a man suffered a non-fatal shot near the homeless encampment outside the library.

"Especially in light of what happened at our main library, I just wanted to be extra cautious," Watson said. 

For however long the printers are out of use, libraries’ day-to-day users will see some canceled or modified computer classes that involved the 3D printers. 

"It's affected a handful of our programming that we've had to cancel or figure out a new way to teach the class, but not very many," Watson said.

Copyright 2020 WLRN 91.3 FM. To see more, visit WLRN 91.3 FM.

Caitie Switalski is a rising senior at the University of Florida. She's worked for WFSU-FM in Tallahassee as an intern and reporter. When she's in Gainesville for school, Caitie is an anchor and producer for local Morning Edition content at WUFT-FM, as well as a digital editor for the station's website. Her favorite stories are politically driven, about how politicians, laws and policies effect local communities. Once she graduates with a dual degree in Journalism and English,Caitiehopes to make a career continuing to report and produce for NPR stations in the sunshine state. When she's not following what's happening with changing laws, you can catchCaitielounging in local coffee shops, at the beach, or watching Love Actually for the hundredth time.