Sunday, March 3, 2013

Download this gun--the 2nd Amendment and 3D printing

Science fiction meets public policy and the debate changes forever.

In the world of 3D printing, the ability to manufacture your own weapons becomes the same as the ability to own a computer and the right printer.

Or, to put it another way:  guns become another form of information.

A Texas "crypto-anarchist" has successfully manufactured an AR-15 lower receiver group [which is, legally, the gun] with a 3D printer and fired 660 rounds of ammunition with it [it didn't fail; he ran out of bullets].

Thousands of people have already downloaded the CAD file, and to do so is perfectly ... legal:
“There are no restrictions on an individual manufacturing a firearm for personal use,” a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) spokesperson told Ars. “However, if the individual is engaged in business as a firearms manufacturer, that person must obtain a manufacturing license.”
Moreover, with the cost of 3D printers now dropping below $1000 [there is already one on the market for $600], the ability to manufacture your own weapons is now a practical reality.  This AR-15 receiver costs about $150 to print [versus low-end costs of $135 for traditional weapons].

My friends who believe in stricter gun control laws will now have to accommodate themselves to a new reality:  an armed populace is not going to cease to exist, regardless of the laws passed, if people can store the ability to print their own weapons.  The ultimate worldwide implications of this technological innovation are staggering:  how do dictators maintain control if they cannot keep their people from owning weapons?

In America, of course, the debate will necessarily take a different course--or, at least it will once our leaders actually figure out what 3D printing is.

1 comment:

George Phillies said...

From the photographs I see, the "lower receiver" is not the part that is under highest mechanical stress, that being the the barrel and its inner end. Perhaps the photographs at which I am looking are not that good or hid the point.

I conclude that there is a while before we get to the stage of home-made quality firearms, but I may be wrong.

Yes, the receiver is legally the part that identifies the gun, but making receivers and making fireable weapons is not obviously the same.