Sunday, September 16, 2012

3D-Printed Guns: Awesome or Scary?

3D printing seems to be a promising project. Just imagine having the capacity—and the liberty—to create materials right at your own home. Jewelries, toys, tools, you name it; everything is presumably possible with 3D printing. In fact, even working guns are said to be possible in the near future. Awesome or scary? Just imagine everyone having the capacity to create guns as they please. A big convenience to goons and criminals, but a pain-in-the-you-know-what for police officers. So, do people have a reason to worry about this innovative printing technique?

Popular Science reported that “HaveBlue”, an amateur gunsmith who is a member of Thingiverse (an online community for 3D printers) under the user “HaveBlue”, has successfully printed a working .22 caliber pistol in as little as $30 worth of ABS plastic. Although HaveBlue said that there are still modifications that need to be done on the pistol, he has already made the blueprint available for download, which gives anti-gun advocates more reasons to worry about.

Forbes also reported about a group called “Defense Distributed”, which initiated a project called 'Wiki Weapon Project' aimed to create blueprints that will allow anyone to 3D-print guns at home. Although their project looks too violent to some, Cody Wilson, the chief spokesperson of the group, claimed that Wiki Weapon Project is legal. It will allow anyone to print guns that they are allowed to lawfully use, provided that they don’t manufacture them for sale.    

Anxiety aside, 3D printed guns are remarkable inventions. They will give us the ability to create usable weapons at an extremely lower cost. However, the idea still needs to go through considerable legislative barriers before it can be made legal. A legal 3D gunsmith, for instance, has to face numerous federal, state and local gun regulations before he can operate legally.

3D printing is indeed a remarkable technique that has the potential to change the world for the better. But unless we can regulate 3D printers, there’s high potential for us to fail to protect ourselves from the real dangers of this technology. Like they say, there are always two sides to a coin, and if we’re not careful, 3D-printed guns can easily fall under the dark side of 3D printing.   


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