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3D-Printed Weapons & the Consequences

Have Blue's 3D-printed converted AR-15. (Source: Defense Distributed)
Have Blue's 3D-printed converted AR-15.
(Source: Defense Distributed)

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Shadetree Engineer
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Re: much ado about nothing
Shadetree Engineer   12/12/2012 1:42:05 PM
I agree, it's not like anything new is happening from a legal standpoint. The use of a 3-D printer will not require any laws to be changed or added.


Reading the source article is highly recommended, folks!  This plastic lower broke during initial assembly, many holes were intentionally under-sized & needed to be drilled, reamed, threaded & tapped.  This project was not a 'print & go' gun but is just a hobbiests venture to push into new frontiers.


The source article has a series of comments worth reading, as well. Looks like a very serious community is referenced there, who will continue this kind of development individually no matter what anyone here might think of it.


The file which was downloaded from thingiverse to make this receiver lower resulted in the thingiverse site owners to issue a ban on any future weapon files from being uploaded. I expect this kind of reaction will become a standard for any widespread public forum which I think is a fair reaction. The only people who really are pioneering this kind of technology will continue to share their files on specialty forums, which will limit the public impact.


The printing of a firearm will not be the first thing a common criminal will choose as a way to arm themselves, but I'm sure they will be reading about it!  The fact that a printed firearm has no registered serial number, might be interesting to a higher class of criminal. Just take a look at the rapidly booming specialty of 3-D printing ATM scanners, which are designed to fit perfectly on top of an ATM's keypad and allow a 'man in the middle' attack to steal your login details. These scanners are being developed by organized groups who obtain 3-D printers any which way they can. These groups are using these printers specifically to break the law, and for no further use. I would bet they will be thinking about printing weapons.


There's a huge market south of the border looking for any kind of firearm. I can see how the fact that a weapon might break after a couple shots will not matter to someone who will mix 5 pounds of baking soda with a couple ounces of crack cocaine just to increase their profit margins.  So I expect to see some kind of funny business in the near future. Maybe a hostage situation where the guy holding the hostage cant take it any longer, pulls his trigger and the gun falls apart. He'll be thinking about how he got ripped-off for a bogus weapon while getting a free trip to the state holiday inn!

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Re: much ado about nothing
warren@fourward.com   12/12/2012 1:10:41 PM
I agree.   As always, it isn't the gun, it is the nut behind it.

But, I have purchased several ceramic knives in ny Japan visits over the last several years that are so sharp and deadly I would place them in the same catagory as a gun.  I could probably get these thru the metal detector easily.  So I won't worry about synthetic guns.  Remember, knives don't kill.  People and governments do...

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Re: much ado about nothing
burn0050   12/12/2012 12:53:18 PM
I'm sorry, but your summary is terribly misleading, and irresponsible. A gun with 3d printed parts has been fired (some time ago, mind you, this story is old news). There will probably be an issue when some dork tries to print an entire weapon, and the thing shatters into a million pieces when fired.

I think that you are right that the seed has been planted, and there may be some impetus to pursue it. But I think this particular story is over-hyped.

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Re: much ado about nothing
Watashi   12/12/2012 12:19:42 PM
Nice icon!

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Re: Misleading Anti-gun hype
Watashi   12/12/2012 11:50:57 AM
 You are correct - a lack of guns, knives, and other weapons don't prevent murders in prison.

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Misleading Anti-gun hype
NiteOwl_OvO   12/12/2012 11:42:22 AM

I'm dissappointed. Let's look at the facts. A 3D printer was used to fabricate a low-stress component, which was used on an existing firearm. They did not fabricate an assault rifle as you implied. Also, the 1988 Undetectable Firearms Act does not create a loophole for hobbiests as you stated. It has always been our right to make a firearm. This act explicitly prohibits hobbiests from making weapons out of materials that can't be detected. Single-shot small caliber guns have been made out of ceramics and they work. Any gun of leathal caliber made of plastic will fail catastrophically on the first shot. Some 3D printers (very expensive ones) can fabricate using metals. It might be possible to fabricate a metal weapon using one of these printers. The weapon would not be very good and would likely fail after a few shots. However, it would be legal if the metals are detectable. Unwise, but legal.

Buying stolen guns on a street corner or at a pawn shop is breaking the law. Using a gun for illegal purposes is breaking the law. Owning and carrying a gun is our right. Using a gun for self protection, sport or competition is legal and protected by our Bill of Rights. I'm amazed and saddened by the number of people who are ignorant of their rights or are so willing to take away the rights of others. We have laws to deter illegal use of weapons and punish law breakers. Gun-control laws only impact law abiding citizens. Criminals are already breaking the law using a gun to comit a crime. A gun-control law won't deter them.

Removing guns from the hands of citizens won't prevent violence or prevent people from killing each other. Knives, hammers, axes, baseball bats, vehicles, bricks, bombs, etc. are all leathal weapons. The list is endless. The problem is not the weapon or availability of weapons. The biggest problems are ignorance, fear and hate.

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Lets get right to the point...
keystoneclimber   12/12/2012 11:34:56 AM
Ok, I was engaged right up until this little gem right here...


"No federal laws address manufacturing weapons with 3D printers, so anyone owning a printer could make a weapon -- even if they're not allowed to own one."


No federal law is required to address manufacturing weapons with 3D printers because federal law already addresses manufacturing weapons in general regardless of the process used.  Anyone who can legally own a firearm can legally manufacture one so long as they fill out the appropriate paperwork with the BATFE, get approved, pay their $200 tax, and never transfer the firearm unless it's to a rightful heir in their will.  This does not apply to Title 2 (NFA) items such as machine guns, silencers, short barrel rifles and shotguns, and items classified as destructive devices.  Those are the facts.  To say anyone owning a printer could make a weapon even if they're not allowed to own one is a moot point.  They forgot to mention that this would also make them a criminal.  Any criminal not allowed to own firearms could also make a weapon if they owned a lathe, or a file, some pipe and band clamps.  In the end, they'd end up with a more robust metallic improvised weapon rather than a plastic one printed from a 3D printer.  Still, the fact remains that criminals don't generally manufacture weapons.  They've got other crimes to commit and that simply takes too much time.  Instead, they buy them out of other criminal's trunks.

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Re: Gross Exaggeration
Keithm   12/12/2012 11:32:37 AM
Thank you another clear thought process...

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Re: It's not the guns, Stupid.
Keithm   12/12/2012 11:31:35 AM
Quacker, you have lost your mind. You are nothing but one of the fear mongers. What you do not understand is that people who have intentions to hurt others are going to do so regardless of what weapons they use... By the sounds of your argument we should ban cars because somebody might get behind the wheel drunk and kill people or maybe ban forks and spoons because they are intruments of mass consumption, therefore are rsponsible for making people fat.

Tank the emotions out your thought process and realize a firearms or components are nothing but in-animate objects that CAN, let me repaet CAN never hurt anybody without human intervention. Responsible ownership of firearms has been proven time and again that it reduces overall crime rates and over control of them has the opposite effect. Look to the statistics of Chicago for instance, it has some of the most stringent firearms restrictions but has a higher than normal homicide rate because the criminals have no fear that they will come up against an armed citizen.

Sweden for example issues fully automatic weapons to their citizens and requires them to practice with and know how to use the weapon and they have a violent crime rate much lower than countries with oppressive gun control laws.

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Gross Exaggeration
Watashi   12/12/2012 11:30:35 AM
The AR lower receiver is a low stress part that cannot fire a projectile.  You can buy a good metal lower for well around $75 (stripped).  "Have Blue" simply merged his 3D printing and gun hobbies.  He certainly didn't save time or money printing the lower.  He still needed the metallic trigger group, barrel, gas tube, buffer spring, and various other parts.

The "news" about printing guns is simply that additive manufacturing can be applied to a field that is completely dominated by other manufacturing methods.  I don't recall such outrage when CNC machines came into existence.  But now even small gun shops can get CAD drawings and manufacture their own OEM replacement or custom parts.  Perhaps if costs continue to progress downward, a process like DMLS can be used instead of CNC milling.

The real story is the all too familiar one, gross ignorance of firearms by media and the general public.  A firearm is simply a machine for launching projectiles.  It isn't much different than a nail gun, except that its projectiles are not fasteners; they make holes.  What many are squeamish about is that a gun provides a capacity to harm other people that cannot be mitigated; for if a gun was made that could not harm someone, it would not function in any capacity. 

The idea of some utopia where there are no bad people is now, just as it has always been; an unobtainable myth.  History and the world are rife with examples of people who cannot resist tyranny because they lost or never had the ability to resist it.  Those of us who have stood, and will continue to stand up to provide safety and freedom to our follow man require arms; the better the armament, the more enduring the peace.  Whether I have my uniform on or off, the oath I took remains. 

I have always been intrigued by the dichotomy of how some celebrate certain freedoms they want, yet arrogantly seek to give away the freedoms others deem immutable.  Indeed many, including the founders of the US recognize that the right to self-protection is derived from natural law and cannot be taken away. 

The illegality and unconstitutionality of various federal gun laws including the NFA is a different, very involved discussion.

Sorry for the rant – but you have to admit, the story was begging for this type of response :)

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