The Liberator, the 3-D printed gun that we reported on earlier today, is proof-of-concept for an inevitable and dangerous idea: what happens to anti-gun legislation when people can just make weapons in their homes?
3-D printers are only getting cheaper, and the tremendous economic potential of 3-D printing should make legislators cautious when reacting to a technology that offers everything from new ears to custom prosthetics to electric racecars, to say nothing of the amazing potential 3-D printers offer at-home manufacturing.
While there are already politicians seeking a legislative solution to 3-D printed guns, it might be best to look at this as an edge case, an inevitable unintended use, but one that won't define the market. Fertilizer, pressure cookers, and cell phones are all everyday appliances that can be used to make deadly explosives, but the overwhelming benefits from these technologies is so positive, and their use as instruments of harm, while existent, is so rare that it would be absurd to try and ban them outright.
We shouldn't be looking at this narrowly as "3-D printed gun poses a new threat"; individuals making guns at home predates 3-D printing by centuries, and people in conflict zones make them without the aid of a 3-D printer to this day. Not to understate the significance of a potentially undetectable home-printed gun, but the impact such weapons will have on society is far less than the one 3-D printing as a whole will have. The technology that is revolutionary here is the 3-D printing.
As long as there exist a motive for either good or evil, there will always be home made, handmade weapons.
It was the Gods that first taught humans to make quality home made weapons, so thank the GODS!
Unless or until you can 3D print a bullet, I predict the discussion of everyone being able to print a gun will become a moot point.
Why?? Making the ammo is the easiest part, even out of 'real' materials. You need basically 1 machine, a hunk of metal, gunpowder and a fire to make ammo... it's not the difficulty in manufacturing the ammo that's made this unreasonable, it's the difficulty in making the firearm itself.
@jbmshasta - Making the ammo is only semi-easy if you have access to the materials and machine to do so. That is my point. Once that is restricted, your plastic gun is worthless.
Amazing, a PopSci story that I can actualy agree with. Tech is tech, the genie is out of the bottle, and it's capable of wonderful things.
Can it be misused, sure, just as so many other things can. But, homemade guns are not new, 'zip guns' were prevalent in major cities in the 50's and 60's.
I think that we need to stop restricting the tech and start trying to really understand what's causing the violence.
As the Gods had a conversation among themselves, observing the tower of Babel being built, “There is no stopping these humans, now!". Then the tower of Babel was knocked to the ground, languages confused and the people scattered...
That was long ago and in a sense, not much has changed!
Just to let you know, the Gods do what is best for them, not necessarily what is best for us.
Agreed... but still a helluva lot easier to get (or fabricate) a machine that can repeatedly make non-moving parts, even if it's an extremely low tolerance one. It would be a lot harder to regulate that one machine than the several needed for a full fledged firearm - and that's not even including the forging involved.