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.
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.
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.
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.
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 :)
I just have to say as a mechanical engineer and a firearms designer you are completely irresponsible in writing and article like this. This article will be taken by a person who knows no better that "Yes I can print a whole gun". You will potentially be responsible for someone getting hurt from try to fire a printed gun. Even though you used a metal based upper receiver assembly that contained a properly designed barrel assembly and bolt carrier assembly people who are not engineers may miss that point altogether.
By the way it is completely legal according to the B.A.T.F. for a non-prohibited persons to build their own firearms as long as that do not fall under the regulations of the National Firearms Act, which regulates automatic weapons short barreled rifles etc... or build it with intent to sell it.
The whole argument about criminals printing non-traceable guns is a bogus point as they; (1) by definition are criminals and therefore will not or would not abide by the law or laws anyway.
(2) are usually lazy and opprotunists, who will go out and steal a real firearm rather than spend the time and effort required to print and build a firearm.
Please in the future think more about the consequences of an article such as this and the unintended consequences of the interpretation of said article by a person or persons who do not have the educational background to fully understand the consequences of purposely initiating what should be a controlled explosion mere inches from ones face to expell a projectile from a barrel.
I'm appalled at the scare tactics of this terribly mis-informed article. 3D plastic printing of a gun receiver still leaves a lot of necessary metal parts- there is no such thing as a plastic gun. 3D plastic printing of gun parts is for gun geeks, not criminals, plain and simple. There is zero reason or advantage for a criminal to print a 3D receiver.
Although plastics make up only about 11% of all US municipal solid waste, many are actually more energy-dense than coal. Converting these non-recycled plastics into energy with existing technologies could reduce US coal consumption, as well as boost domestic energy reserves, says a new study.
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