In what has proven to be a frightening development to many, it now seems that it may be even easier for people to get their hands on guns without background checks, identification, or licenses. All you need is a computer, an internet hookup, and access to a 3D printer. It might sound like the stuff of science fiction, but thanks to at least one group of people who have all three, it appears to be entirely doable.
One such group is Defense Distributed, an online, open-source, non-profit organization that seeks to create a “Wiki weapon” – i.e. a weapon downloaded and printed with 3D technology. The group recently claimed to have downloaded the specs for a weapon from the internet, inputted them into a 3D printer, assembled the resulting plastic pieces, and then used it as one would a regular gun.
According to Cody Wilson, a University of Texas law student and the “Wiki Weapons” project leader, the group last month test fired a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle which was built with parts created on a 3-D printer. The gun was fired six times before it broke. Though no independent observers were on hand to verify the test, but a short video was posted to Youtube to back up the claim.
Naturally, the news has a number of people nervous, not the least of which are gun control advocates. Not only is an AR-15 an automatic weapon that was used in last week’s Connecticut School Massacre, the technology could also give countless people the ability to generate deadly guns in a way that remains unregulated and unmonitored. With gun control already at the top of the US government’s agenda, this news is expected to influence the debate.
What’s more, the fact that the issue of gun control has been gaining so much momentum in the last week could be seen as a likely influence for the group’s efforts. Wilson, who apparently expressed concern over the recent shootings, is motivated by his belief in the Second Amendment. In the end, he claims, free access to firearms is far more important than a single terrible tragedy, which he also characterized as an inevitable result of having the right to bear arms.What’s more, his group made it clear that though they discussed stopping in the light of the recent tragedy, they have no intention of stopping, believing their work to be “too important to stop.”
I imagine they would feel differently if they had children that were amongst the victims.
So I put the question to others, is this a development which holds frighten the general citizenry? Are tougher gun control laws, should Congress approve them, coming at a time when they are in danger of becoming obsolete? And if so, what’s to be done about it?
Personally, I am quite worried. For some time I have been extolling the virtues of new media, the internet, and the freedom it engenders, specifically in terms of information. When it came to 3D printing and other revolutionary fabrication processes, I figured the potential for good outweighed the potential for harm. But at Wilson and his compatriots at Defense Distributed may have demonstrated, bad people, or simply misguided people, can use it for entirely harmful purposes!