It was “the shot heard around the world,” said Leonard Pitts Jr. in The Miami Herald. Libertarian activist Cody Wilson last week fired a plastic gun created entirely by a 3-D printer, and then uploaded blueprints to the Internet. Those blueprints can be downloaded by any mental patient, felon, or terrorist with a 3-D printer—a desktop manufacturing device that reads digital design files and creates solid objects by laying down layer after layer of specialized plastic. Wilson calls his gun “the Liberator,” to convey its ability to empower individuals to fight state control. The only parts that can’t be printed are the metal nail that serves as its firing pin, and the bullets it shoots. Within 48 hours, the Liberator blueprints were downloaded 100,000 times and shared around the Web. There goes what remains of gun control, said David Frum in the Toronto National Post. Just as “the Tsarnaev brothers got their bomb-making instructions online,” anyone can use Wilson’s blueprints to make a primitive pistol that’s effective at short range and can pass through a metal detector. “It is, in other words, an assassin’s weapon.”

No need to sound an alarm, said Nick Vadala in The 3-D printed gun will hardly become the preferred “instrument of crime”—at least not for many years. Today a typical 3-D printer costs between $1,000 and $8,000, and can take weeks to learn how to operate. But thanks to our lax gun laws, almost anyone can buy a handgun in a matter of minutes for $300 or less in stores or the black market. So why bother making a primitive plastic gun that can blow up in your hand when fired? Government attempts to ban the blueprints are futile, said Charles Cooke in Whatever ban is put in place would be quickly subverted by hackers, just as they overcame efforts to stop the illegal downloading of music and videos. The 3-D gun’s primary value is symbolic: It proves, once and for all, that it’s impossible for governments to enforce restrictions on ownership of weapons. That’s important, since the only people who obey gun laws of any kind “are the people who you don’t need to worry about in the first place.”

But the Constitution practically demands that we ban printed weapons, said Ryan Neal in The Second Amendment calls for a “well-regulated” militia, and there’s nothing about the Liberator that “can possibly be considered well-regulated.” The plastic gun is untraceable, and could slip past metal detectors into airplanes, government offices, courtrooms, and schools. “Recent tragedies continue to remind us that dangerous people have little trouble accessing firearms. Let’s not make it easier for them.”

Too late—this Pandora’s box has already been opened, said in an editorial. And homemade guns are just the start. As 3-D printing technology advances and home units can utilize ceramics and metals along with plastic, whole categories of products—from furniture to car parts to designer drugs—will suddenly be easy to make, copyrights be damned. Printers will transform medicine, too, using human cells to craft replacement kidneys, livers, and hearts. In coming decades, a recent report predicts, 3-D printing may prove to be “as disruptive as the personal computer and the Internet.” Cody Wilson just fired the first shot of that revolution, and in its echo, we are left to ponder the fact that “we lack even a moral vocabulary for this brave new world.”