Can 3D Technology Put Homemade Guns In The Wrong Hands?

Category: Technology / Mar 01, 2013 4:41PM EDT
No license. No background check. No permit. Owning a semi-automatic firearm is now as easy as manufacturing one in your own home. A group called Defense Distributed has created a downloadable blueprint to replicate an AR-15 receiver, a part of a semi-automatic gun that is capable of firing hundreds of rounds of ammunition, using 3D printing technology. 3D printers use a process called additive manufacturing to make objects from a digital model by laying down layers of material. They've been used to make manufacturing and engineering prototypes for more than 25 years. Today's affordable 3D printers are used to churn out simple items such as keychains and Legos. Defense Distributed's founder Cody Wilson has increased the technology's sophistication by creating instructions needed for the software that duplicates objects - in this case, an essential component of a semi-automatic rifle that ordinarily requires legal permission to own. "What's great about the wiki weapon is it only needs to be lethal once. I mean, that's the idea, right? The fact that it works, if but once, or perhaps only because it works once, and we've now crossed the threshold, we're there," Wilson says in the group's video. "We will have the reality of a weapons system that can be printed out from your desk. Anywhere there's a computer, there's a weapon." But the prospect of duplicating a lethal weapon is alarming to anti-gun lobbyists like Leah Gunn Barrett of the nonprofit organization, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. "This development of making 3D plastic guns is especially scary and worrying when you consider that many people, 40 percent of people are currently evading background checks for gun sales, and this will be impossible to have background checks for individuals making plastic guns from the safety of their living room, and these guns could fall into hands that are people who should not have guns, criminals, people who are seriously mentally ill, people who are convicted of domestic violence, even children," Gunn Barrett told Reuters in response to the innovation. "So Americans should be very concerned about this development," Gunn Barrett said. "This is not about freedom. It's about public safety and personal safety." Others have raised concern that the plastic material from which the gun is made from will escape metal detectors, presenting a greater challenge to Homeland Security. Organizations like The Mayors Against Illegal Guns Action Fund have advocated tighter restrictions for gun regulation, but Wilson of Defense Distributed says it's no longer in anyone's control. The AR-15 isn't the only gun part available with instructions for duplication. Wilson says other parts for weaponry have also received thousands of downloads. Video Source: Reuters