With the debate over gun control raging on, some people are getting weary of new technology that makes it easier than ever before to manufacture a weapon.
Now that the price of consumer 3d printers are becoming more affordable, the ability to download and print an object in plastic is quickly becoming reality. The cheapest 3d printer that a consumer can purchase costs around $500 USD. The new availability of the technology that has been around for a few decades is generating a lot of printable models.
Most 3d model are harmless. Thingiverse, a popular library of printable models is full of art models, toys, utility items like brackets and iPhone cases. Recently the site has begun cracking down on people that are not following the sites terms of service, which explicitly prohibits gun models and items that can cause physical harm. However, the group Defense Distributed has raised $20,000 to try and build an entire gun from plastic.
The group is led by Austin law student Cody Wilson who says that owning a gun is a civil liberty and is important to protecting individual sovereignty. Wilson has already printed a lower receiver, which is the segment of the gun that includes the trigger and grip along with a large capacity magazine. He recently released a video of himself firing 86 rounds through AR-15 rifle with the key parts of the weapon replaced by his printed plastic parts.
The ease of manufacturing a weapon is not the only problem. Now that working guns can be made from plastic, metal detectors will become less useful. The idea of printable weapons has at least one congressman worried. Representative Steve Israel released a statement on his website promising a ban on printable high capacity magazines. However, for the time being Wilson has not committed any crimes. It is currently legal to make custom gun parts.
How should printable guns be handled?