The Year of the 3D Printed Gun


The day was May 5, 2013 and the most unthinkable thing happened, some say it was to be. As with all inventions ever created with the new 3D printers it was going to happen regardless, I speak of the GUN. You know the only thing we as humans seem to think we need, in all forms of fashion. The gun was the Liberator, a 3D printed gun that was usable (questionable by some) and able to fire (also questionable by some). It was designed by a group called Defense Distributed, headed by a 25-year-old Texas law student and committed libertarian named Cody Wilson. Interesting that a law student created a plastic gun…

Did we need this, and do we want this? People create items just to say that they did it, or could it be done… How does it affect and transform our society?!? The answer is, not much. With 3D printing being used to produce everything from car parts to living tissue, it was inevitable that the technology would be used to produce a handgun. Rather large and awkward, the Liberator hasn’t taken the firearms world by storm.

People are worried that 3D printing will be able to produce undetectable plastic guns and that criminals and terrorists will now be able to make their own firearms without anyone else knowing, and those concerns can and may be true. The Liberator does say a lot about the future and maybe even the present day of technology.

People also say that it can be used to get past checkpoints in airports, but the Liberator can be identified at security checkpoints because it has a chunk of metal. However it would be possible for someone to manufacture a 3D-printed plastic gun that could bypass checkpoints and it wouldn’t be caught by a metal detector if it wasn’t loaded. A true plastic gun has no metal to detect, but the bullets would be made of metal and would set off the metal detectors. Just how many bullets would it take??? I hope just one would do it, the sensors are very tuned about hidden metal. Metal detectors aren’t the last word though, they’re kind of obsolete these days. More modern detectors (such as backscatter-X-ray or millimeter-wave-radar imager) which look beneath people’s clothes would detect a plastic gun regardless, and a simple pat-down by security officers would find it also.

I just don’t like the thought that anyone with a 3D printer (and no knowledge of it or how it came to be) can simply download the Image file and print out the gun parts, assemble them and then act like an idiot with the gun… The owners of the printers do not fill out any paperwork regarding of not printing firearms, they are not registered on a federal list, the file is freely open to download (ya… For Education… Right) and no one is watching out for this foolish idea waiting to happen… Why not track the download then some say… Or have the downloader fill out a form… (Hmmm, click here if you are over 18… Sound familiar???) I think the file should be taken off the Internet completely… If the person printing is smart enough to design and print out a working gun then they should get the kudos, they would be smart enough and earned the respect not to do something foolish with it.

Unfortunately with costs going down on all things related to 3D printers for the home, you are going to see more and more problems like the gun issue if everyone can simply just download the image and print it out. Don’t get me wrong… I love the idea of creating something for myself, but that something would be designed by me (not someone else in the Internet) and used by me for the purpose it was indented for (and no firearms). I just don’t want to see a bunch of Basement Gunsmiths that don’t know to respect the gun or how to use it… I wonder if those individuals could ever get a gun permit?!? If so how many?!? I’m sure the number would be very small…

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