Over the past few years 3D printing has come a long way, and when used for good, amazing things result. However used in the wrong hands, chaos can emerge.
What am I talking about? I am talking about this post I found on Gizmodo today, “The First 3D Printed Rifle Now Fires Multiple Rounds—Without Breaking”, and another related article I found (here) “100,000 People Already Downloaded 3D-Printed Gun Plans. So What?”.
To be honest I am not really surprised that someone came up with the idea to print a gun. What I am more worried about is who has access to the plans. Lets face it, not everyone on the internet has morals. Now saying that the gun is still a ways away from being usable and that it has to be manually reloaded, as well as the it isn’t exactly easy to remove the shell casing after firing, I would like to remind the public and authorities, it only takes one bullet to kill someone.
Now I am not against the guys who created the plans posting them online, freedom of speech is a right in our countries, however there has to be a way to regulate it somehow.
Now I know what you are thinking, not everyone has a 3D printer, they are expensive, and not everyone can afford it. Wait till next year, when key patents expire allowing any company to manufacture these printers, bringing pricing down to an affordable level for just about anyone. (ref)
Think of it this way, if a bank robber, a would be assassin, or a high school kid who snaps after being bullied too much manages to get their hands on the plans, and happens to have a 3D printer, they have just armed themselves with an unregistered, untraceable firearm. Ok, Bank robber is a little far fetched, I mean one bullet will do nothing when you are faced with 50 cops (well, far fetched till they figure out how to print a magazine and loader mechanism), but in the other two cases, one bullet is more than enough. And being printed out of hardened non-metallic material pretty much makes metal detectors useless, except for the bullets, well, until they find a way to print these as well.
Now why stop at guns? The metal detectors at schools were meant to catch other metal weapon like knives, which can also be printed (much more easily than a gun of course).
So how does one regulate the use of 3D printers? Is it even possible? How about regulating the plans and how they are distributed, without violating Free Speech? Its not that 99% or people on the net that respect local laws and have morals, its the 1% that worries me.