I came across an article the other day that was “jaw dropping” and “chin on the floor” shocking to me. I don’t know why this never occurred to me before….it never even crossed my mind that it was possible, but it turns out it is.
Did you know that you can make a gun using a 3D printer? A real gun…a functional gun…a gun that can actually shoot bullets?
I am shocked at this. I am shocked that I never read or heard about this before. I know how a 3D printer works. I know it can actually make objects. I just never realized that the printer can make such an intricately detailed piece such as a gun and have the gun actually work.
3D printing is a process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model. You design it on a computer and the printer makes the object. It turns out that you can make most anything.
According to the NBC news story “Despite plastic gun ban, 3-D printed firearms still have a future” 1:
…a Texas-based group that promotes the use of 3-D printed guns, fired a .380 caliber bullet from a plastic gun called the “Liberator.” The shot landed at a dusty firing range in central Texas, but was apparently heard in the halls of Congress.
The provocative demonstration prompted fears from politicians that criminals would be able to arm themselves in the future by simply printing guns in their basements.
On Monday, the U.S. Senate addressed those concerns by voting to extend the Undetectable Firearms Act for another 10 years, mirroring similar action last week by the House. The legislation, expected to be signed by President Obama, continues the ban on the sale or possession of firearms that aren’t detectable by X-ray machines or metal detectors, a category that could include 3-D printed guns.
Not only can people now make plastic guns that look like real guns, they now actually shoot real bullets. This is scary as hell.
What good are gun laws, background checks or waiting periods anymore if someone can just hit print and then have a gun on-demand. Criminals can just throw them away after using them just like they do with cell phones. They will be non-traceable.
Although the US Senate did renew the ban on the guns that are undetectable by metal detectors, they lost the fight on requiring guns to have a permanent metal part that is a component of the gun.2 You can legally have a plastic gun with a removable metal strip that makes it visible to metal detectors. Huh? Removable?
So in other words, we just renewed a meaningless law that does not solve the problem it set out to solve. If the metal part is not permanent, then the ban on plastic guns without a metal part is insignificant because it allows people to circumvent the law with a simple motion of removing a metal band from the gun.
What makes the whole situation worse is that the a gun manufacture actually put up instructions on the web for making untraceable, 3D printed, plastic guns. The US Government forced the gun maker to take them down, but not before the instructions were downloaded 100,000 times.3
Those of you who like guns and think that responsible gun owners should not have to abide by any restrictions, should pause and rethink what digital printing of guns means.
It means absolutely no control over guns for anyone regardless of age, mental capacity, etc. It means anyone, including a child, your child, your child’s friends, can print a gun on-demand whenever they please. You currently might lock up your guns in your house in order to keep them away from your kids, but your computer equipment is just sitting there open and ready to use. The next generation of parents may have to lock up their 3D printers, just as the parents of today lock up their alcohol in order to keep it away from their kids. As technology advances we must be vigilant about anticipating potential problems.
Take a look at the 3 articles I linked below. Since the US Senate just voted on this this past week there are many articles on the web about this topic.
1 Keith Wagstaff, “Despite plastic gun ban, 3-D printed firearms still have a future”. NBCnews, December 9, 2013.
2 “Senate Renews Ban On Plastic Guns“. CBS News, December 9, 2013
3 Website Removes Instructions For Making Untraceable, 3D-Printed Plastic Gun. CBS News, May 10, 2013