Your sitting in your home at night minding your own business when suddenly you hear a crash downstairs, you rush to the top of the stairs to hear strange men rummaging through your things. You know that you are now the victim of a robbery but what are you to do? You rush to your 3D printer and print out the parts to a pistol in order to scare these ruffians away.
Understandably this scenario has some holes in it such as how do you have a 3D printer and wouldn’t the robbers hear it. However the idea of printing out parts for a gun with a 3D printer is not that far fetched.
Not that long ago a crypto – anarchist by the name of Cody Wilson wanted to make a statement about gun control with the recent developments of federal gun control from the US government after the Sandy Hook shootings. He did this by printing out a plastic version of the lower receiver to an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle using a 3D printer. Now a 3D printer is a device that when given a design from a 3D program, can make nearly anything out of plastic. For example, if you went on your computer and had 3D rendering software, you could make a three dimensional cube of an inch by an inch by an inch. You then could input the design into the printer and lone and behold you would have a three dimensional solid cube in your hands.
Now apply this same process of designing an object on a computer and printing out a gun part. This is exactly what Wilson is doing and is then taking the code and allowing anyone to use the code free of charge.
So what does this mean? It creates a whole new dimension to the gun debate. The lower receiver is the only gun part of the AR-15 that needs a license for someone to own and use, all other parts can be bought online or in stores without a license. So if people can now make this part at home, they no longer need a license to obtain the part, only to legally use it. What’s more, Wilson has made high capacity magazines, which is a normal gun magazine that would hold more bullets than average. The issue with this was that this was one of the primary issues covered in the new gun laws passed by the government.
What a possibility of this new found method of obtaining weapons is that it makes the gun user the gun developer now. Much like how the internet made the consumer the designer of media with the rise of sites of Youtube which thrives off of user made videos, gun users and owners can now not just print out the parts they need, but with this technology and the coming of stronger and more durable plastics, the gun owner could design his own personal weapon suited to his own tastes and body type. Even if you are able to hinder the distribution of gun designs for 3D programs online which would be a feat in itself, a gun owner who is competent enough with a 3D program could simply design his own weapon as long as he could gain access to a 3D printer.
We face an era now that faces the dilemma where the distribution of the internet does not just mean the distribution of knowledge, but also guns. If history has been indication, 3D printers will be around for a while with their success and will be come more sophisticated and easier to obtain. Thus we will see a future where if you are alone at nigh when your house is broken into, you may very be able to print out a Glock for your own protection.