3D Printed Gun Controversy-Are We Making A Mountain Out of A Molehill?
Remember the joke that anyone can make a bomb if one knows how to use Google Search? Not so funny anymore. Now we got the “Wiki Weapon” that can be downloaded from the Internet.
Defense Distributed had released the free blueprint of 3D printed gun, Liberator, in CAD files on the website, and then was removed due to the violation of regulation in 2013. Defense Distributed went for law remedies and reached a settlement in June, 2018, republishing the file but soon be banned by a federal judge in July.
Gun regulations in countries where owning gun is legal were set to prevent abuses and crimes concern firearms. It is legal in some states in the United States to make and to possess homemade firearm for personal use. That is, no manufacturing and commercial activities are involved unless you have the license. These weapons are not registered or serialized, which are known to be the so-called ghost gun. Concerns are that these 3D printed plastic guns will be untraceable since it cannot be detected by metal sensors even though they were assembled with metal firing pins and bullets.
In fact, weapon tutorials for crossbows, slingshots, pipe guns and even trebuchet are available. People have been making homemade weapons long before Maker movement and the first 3D printer existed. Why fears of the public were suddenly triggered by this issue again?
People do have qualms about 3D printed weapons in the past. Then they realized that most people can neither afford those machines nor know how to use them to build what they want. However, with the advance of manufacturing technology, machines like desktop computer numerical control (CNC) mills and desktop 3D printers are getting smaller, cheaper and easier to operate. Actually, the most crucial problem is the design blueprint and the knowhow of manufacturing a gun.
The concerns are not about making guns but the access to making guns. No experiences and professional skills are required to operate a CNC mill or a 3D printer, for the software and the program were prepared for makers.
Perhaps, what the opponents are against is still gun, to be precise, the threats of gun. Stronger materials were developed and applied to make the 3D printed gun be able to be used in gunfights. Aside from the worries of firearm manufacturers that firearm industry will be impacted, safety concerns like potential threats of terrorism, gun violence and black market smuggling are the biggest objection of 3D printed firearms.
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