With the advent of the 3-D printer, it only took a few weeks before someone thought to create and distribute the documents required to create a firearm.
Since the blueprints hit the internet for “The Liberator” (which is considered to be the first known 3-D printed gun) has already been downloaded more than 50,000 times. There is no way of tracking who, what age, or where the blueprints have been downloaded, and even less chance of finding out who is sharing them.
The United States took second place in downloading the blueprints, Spain took first. In a statement to NBC news Cody Wilson stated, “This is a level I’ve never seen before,” wilson works for not-for-profit 3-D gunsmith “Defense Distributed”. It’s true that Defense Distributed earned the title of designing the first gun, that works, made up of entirely printable parts that fires live-ammunition. Now Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., have already put a bill (Undetectable Firearms Modernization Act) aimed at stopping these plastic guns from hitting the market and making them illegal. Now anyone with access to a 3-D printer, the blueprints and ammo, can make a plastic gun that could walk right through a metal-detector. Any age, background, or criminal record can download the files and create their own weapon. In a statement in the same interview Wilson stated, “That’s how I know I’m doing something good — these New York Democrats are doing something against it.”
Even if you are fighting for the right to carry a gun, I would hope that you see how dangerous that this is to your cause. While you are fighting to maintain your right to cary weapons as they are now, you have a situation where someone is making their own guns and bypassing all of the laws that you are trying to protect. With every instance that more regulations are put on guns (even plastic ones) it only makes it easier for future laws to be passed.
It’s probably true that if Wilson didn’t create a 3-D gun then someone, somewhere, would have. I imagine the reaction to the 3-D printed gun would have been met differently by Americans if it was made in other parts of the world and not in the United States. You can now get the blueprints for “The Liberator” on almost any file-sharing service on the internet, this is happening as 3-D printer-developers are trying to make their devices cheaper and cheaper to meet the demands of eager consumers (not all for gun use of course).
There are several unfortunate side-effects that may come from this “liberation” however, not all of them gun-related. Now that 3-D printers are on the map, a quick vote to outlaw 3-D printed guns would make it even easier for other 3-D printed items to be outlawed even before the 3-D printers hit the mass-market. Once 3-D printers are labeled dangerous, and it’s almost certain that with this invention they will be, age-restrictions, material restrictions, state restrictions and possible licensing and state-certifications could easily be passed thus limiting consumers use of the printer.
Product manufactures are already nervous that 3D printer machines will ruin business like toys, furniture, accessories and other easily replaced items that can be printed not bought. As people are preparing to fight, what is sure to be a regulation battle between trademarked items and 3-D Printers, this instance is already giving the government their first win against what people can do with their 3-D printers.
This could also cripple innovation. Gun makers are protected by certain laws. As it stands now no one who is a victim of a gun-related crime can sue the gun manufacturer for simply creating the product. There are no protections agains 3-D printers or developers from this same scenario. Even if laws were put in place to protect the 3-D printers, it could take decades before any of them ever receive the same protection as gun manufactures. Insurance, legal fees and bad-press could completely wipe-out the industry before it even got of the ground. It’s taken America over 200 years to create the gun-control system in this country and even now it is still in debate. Now you have a means of bypassing all current gun-control methods with a device that was most likely never designed with the intent to do so. Although it’s true that someone else besides Wilson could have created the gun blueprints, being the first means he could be connected to the instance that ruined 3-D Printing. Whether you stand for guns or against guns, won’t be the issue for 3-D printers. It’s a matter of money, and I don’t see how any company could afford to stay in business once the first case of a plastic-gun related incident, goes to court. If one company, one distributer or one developer ever loses the settlement in a case, it would be the final blow to consumer-level printing and would end it entirely.