The comments about personal responsibility are certainly correct. Why is it that so many refuse to acknowldge that individuals are responsible for their actions. Then there comes this other fact, which is that most crimes are committed by lawbreakers. So how is it proposed that some law about producing weapons is going to stop somebody from breaking other laws.
Besides that, at least in this corner of Michigan, it is possible to "buy a gun on the street" for about the same price as to purchase the materials to produce one part using the 3D printer. And most commercially made guns will work every time with far less experience needed, and they very seldom fail catastophically. So in reality the possesion of home-manufacture d weapons is a much smaller threat. One more thing is that I could also make the parts with conventional tools, such as a mill and a lathe. So how would those be regulated, since they have been around for a whole lot of years. Yes, somebody has demonstrated a new way to make gun parts, but that is not the source of the problem.
And the comment about knives is also certainly correct. Any doubters should see what they teach in the USMC infantry training classes. You don't run out of sharp nearly as fast as you run out of bullets.
Human beings have been making tools since the species came into existence. Of late our tools have become more sophisticated but they are born of the need to design and use tools. The tools created to provide for defence or offence are among the most basic of tool wants. I have made knives and guns although not with a 3-D printer. There is a certain satisfaction in hunting with a gun you have made yourself.
All of the laws to the contrary, there is no way to prevent determined people from obtaining or manufacturing weapons. Restricting the capacity of magazines or the types of weaponry that is legal to own will not prevent someone with sufficient intent from getting them and potentially doing harm. Understanding these people exist and providing a strong active defence, not lows, is the best way to thwart their actions.
Once a design approach has been published or circulated, restricting its dissemination will be innefective and may actually make the approach go viral. Secrets are fleeting, military secrets the most fleeting of all.
Shrimper53 - I think the best source of crime statistics (unbiased) is the FBI database. I think you'll find a nearly equal number of blunt instrument/stabbing deaths. Most firearms deaths are suicides, but that fact is often left out of articles on the subject of gun deaths. Let's not forget vehicular deaths which far outnumber firearms deaths, but we all drive without a second thought. (Be careful this Memorial Weekend, all).
TunaFish5 - I was particularly referring to kitchen knives because they are easy inflicters of mortal injuries. Knives are much more effective at close range than guns. Many modern soldiers carry a knife for this reason. Guns are stigmatized yet knifes can be put on every table in the country and sold in sets at garage sales. Again, effective range is a differentiator, but just as many people find themselves dead whether at a distance or upclose.
Tactical nuclear devices (TND) are a considerably larger project, only within the means of select governments (at this time) due to material requirements. There's little point of working this part of the discussion as we both know the limitations.
I'm not a "no boundaries" type. I just think the stigma on firearms in this country is unjust and ought to viewed more rationally. That's where 3-D manufacturing and gun control have crossed paths. Many will disagree with me and that's fine. Don't make guns. Don't own guns. But, don't go making legislation to limit or criminalize personal freedoms (firearm ownership) with the intent to prevent something that's already illegal (killing).
Granted, I was (still am, a little bit) being sarcastic in my tone, but not necessarily being extremist in my statements. I only site a practical useful example of how a gun is viewed differently than other equally lethal and dangerous devices. I wholly disagree with the notion that it's a quantum jump between knives and guns.
The likely scenario (in my opinion) is that the government will close the loop by adding "additive manufacturing techniques" into the existing laws regulating firearms manufacture. After such time, makers will have to get their ATF licenses then brand-label and serialize their products. The open-source files will also ultimately have to be regulated despite the practical issues in doing so on the internet. I guess there is something to discuss here?
In trying to keep this discussion in the spirit of the intended thread, I don't think (in my opinion again) 3-D printed weapons will last as a vexing issue. Additive manufacturing technology has great promise in many areas and personal responsibility in the items we design and use will always be pre-requisite. We simply can't make certain decisions for other people.
I was in Europe eating lunch in a place with TVs tuned to a channel -- or maybe a very long show -- that was exclusively about idiots exercising their right to avoid any burden of foresight. I saw so many examples during that meal where fools and their health were soon parted. Perhaps the gravest example was these clowns who broke into an under-construction waterpark and wanted to go down the giant slide. Their problem was, they didn't realize the full value of a water-cushioned landing until they were sliding down too fast to stop their imminent flight into an open concrete pit.
Another example - maybe 10 or 20 years ago. Some enterprising mechanic obtains a jet-assisted take-off (propulsion power booster for heavily laden C-130 aircraft) and afixes it to his car. The trial goes fine until the road bends left around a mesa, but his vehicle continues straight into it.
So, it's fine if people want to do these things on their own time, at their own expense, in isolated locations, without disrupting others.
Not all knuckleheas are so considerate, though. Those are the ones society needs to protect itself from.
And -- oh, by the way -- even the ones who do keep their mistakes to themselves, RARELY keep other folks out of their trouble. Somebody has to clean up and pay for their mess, whether it's the water park operator that needs to buy another couple gallons of powder blue paint for the pool and several more spools of concertina wire for the perimiter, or the ambulance crew dispatched to pull a sheet over any still-twitching body parts.
Even when knuckleheads are not directing lethal energy at others, somebody has to buy the bleach and work the scrub brushes.
When knuckleheads get direct lethal energy at others, the results only get messier.
The threats are already there.....and I am tired and ANGRY at the stupidity on the gun-control" side of this issue. There is a stat that I heard (cannot recall the source) that more people are killed by knives and baseball bats than rifles. The guns (actual, or 3-D printed ones) are not the problem; it's the criminal that uses it.
Actually, my only other thought re: 3-D printed guns is this; we've all seen the articles here in Design News and elsewhere indicating these things have a finite life span before they "fail"..... maybe there is some justice in having this happen to the next criminal thug that uses one. Call it karma, or maybe just weeding the herd....
at one level, you're correct; however, there is a quantum jump at this juncture.
Namely: the availability of hard-to-detect tools (weapons) that deliver lethal energy will minimal effort.
I don't know why you mention advanced-tech kitchen knives. They're a benign example in the middle of the whole argument at hand. Means to deliver lethal energy have existed since the invention of rocks and stones.
then came knives, spears, flintlocks, percussion-fired guns, grapeshot, machine guns, mustard gas, alphas, betas, gammas, neutrons, etc.
The constant theme: easier delivery of lethal energy.
Why not make your argument with a couple of pavers I can buy at Home Depot and throw and the neighbor's noisy dog? (or at the noisy neighbors?)
Somewhere between rocks and nuclear is a dividing line between what's available and not available to the general public.
I challange you to make the conversation a bit more interesting: recraft your argument into something about why I can and should be able to buy and/or make cleavers, but not be able to do the same with tactical nuclear devices.
or maybe you think I should be able to craft my own TNDs. I don't know; maybe you're a "no boundaries at all" kind of guy and you're OK with your neighbors running their own breeder reactors.
3-D printing of weapons doesn't present any new threat to our society than what already existed. Why is this even a discussion?
A common kitchen knife is a lethal and unregulated instrument of harm when found in the hands of some irresponsible person. They sell these lethal items in grocery stores without a background check or even so much as checking ID! Now they have ceramic (undetectable) knifes that are also abundant, cheap and unregulated. Where is the government to save us! :P I'm sure someone can figure out how to make a straight piece of plastic, get a 3-D printer to produce one, then sharpen it.
We have to allow everyone the opportunity to be responsible with their choices and punish those who fail. We must not punish everyone just in case there's one possible chance of harm being done, otherwise we're not a free society but a society of panic-striken reactionaries. 3-D printed lower receivers is no more of a threat than the 99 other ways to die at the hands of someone.
bronorb...... I also could not agree with you more. Particularly from your "institutional" perspective, monitoring of what goes on is crucial. There are way too many knuckleheads out there ready AND able to do some pretty stupid things with this new technology.
A good and timely discussion to have, nonetheless.....there are ALWAYS unintended consequences to be dealt with on both sides. Thanks.
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