Here’s another reason gun control won’t work (not to mention it’s against the Second Amendment in the United States): people will eventually be able to download them. Say what! Yes, people will be able download CAD files of firearms and then 3D print them. Unless you want to regulate 3D printers or the transfer of CAD files, it’s going to happen. In fact, it actually has already happened–the first step has already been taken, with the result you see here:
This photo was recently posted by a member HaveBlue of the AR15 gun forum, who started a thread, where he posted photos of his project. The gun enthusiast had access to an old Stratasys 3D printer from the mid-1990′s, and used it to create the “lower,” which is one part of a firearm, in ABS plastic. What you see in the photo above is the 3D-printed lower, assembled with other parts, to create a .22 caliber pistol.
And the darn thing works. He’s fired over 200 rounds from it.
Then he went to the next level,
and 3D printed the “upper” part. With the upper and lower now in hand, along with other manufactured parts, he assembled a .223 rifle. And while he had some issues with feed and extraction, it proved successful. Here’s a photo:
He suggests that only gunsmith experts try this at home, as one little mistake could cause the firearm to explode in your hands when you pull the trigger.
The forum thread evolved, of course, into what the future might hold for the 3D printing of firearms. Here’s member phurba on the subject:
This is a hot topic on the 3D printer forums. Some people want to make plans for gun parts readily available, either to prove gun laws irrelevant or to circumvent them; while others feel that guns are icky and no such thing should happen.
Anyone who knows me here knows that I am hardly an advocate for gun control, however it is simple for an ineligible person to print a gun and buy the non-gun parts online. Is that something that could be regulated? Not really, unless you regulated the printers. The easiest way to control that is to stop the plans from being posted on public forums. But lets be honest here: anyone who wants to circumvent these laws could go learn machining and mill their own AR receiver, and the same thing goes for learning CAD software and running a polymer printer. Does that mean that machinists classes and forums should be regulated? Certainly not. I really feel the same argument applied to 3D printers: basically, there’s nothing that anyone can nor should do.
But the thread also moved on to the subject of 3D printing in general, with the wonderment and excitement that comes with any person discovering the world of 3D printing. I do think quite a few Makerbots were sold as a result of this discussion.
Member M4Builder summed it up perfectly: “Awesome, just simply awesome. The wave of the future.” He wasn’t talking about 3D printing guns, he was talking about 3D printing.
I’m sure the thought of people printing out 3D printers at home, unregulated, has many people cheering and many people worried. Which side do you fall on? What’s your opinion?
Hat trick: WebProNews
Update: We just published an excellent article entitled, “3D Printers, obsolete firearm supply controls and the right to build self-defense weapons under Heller.” It’s a legal “Comment” on 3D printing and firearms.