3D Printed Guns: They're Further Complicating the Gun Control Debate


A new chapter in the ongoing gun debate is about to be written. Defense Distributed's Cody Wilson, who is a 25-year-old Texas University Law student, plans to release the 3D-printable CAD files for a gun he calls “the Liberator,” pictured in its initial form above.

"The Liberator" consists of seventeen pieces; sixteen are 3D printed, while the seventeenth is a 6 oz piece of steel thrown in to comply with the Undetectable Firearms Act. In March, Defense Distributed also obtained a federal firearms license, making it a legal gun manufacturer. Once the file is uploaded online, anyone will be able to download and print the gun in the privacy of their home, legally or not, with no serial number, background check, or other regulatory hurdles. It is because of this reason that Congress should drop current attempts at background checks and pass an extended ban on plastic firearms. 

This Forbes article highlights Wilson's past interactions with this highly controversial topic. Wilson’s group has sought to make as many components of a gun as possible into printable blueprints and to host those controversial files online, thwarting gun laws and blurring the lines between the regulation of firearms and information censorship. So far those pieces have included high capacity ammunition magazines for AR-15s and AK-47s, as well as an AR lower receiver, the body of that semi-automatic rifle to which off-the-shelf components like a stock and barrel can be attached.

"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change. With the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep face with the times. We might as well require a man to weak still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors."

That quote is inscribed in the marble at the Jefferson Monument in Washington, D.C. Thomas Jefferson knew it over 200 years ago: when new technology comes to fruition, the laws must be adjusted. The very idea that a gun could be made by downloading a file and assembling it in a garage, therefor bypassing all current laws and background checks (where applicable) is something that should be controlled.  There're no rights at questions here.

If you want a gun, go buy one; go buy it through the proper channels, and abide by the law. Passing an extended ban on plastic firearms isn't something that should be accomplished, its something that must be accomplished.