Less than a week remains before Cody Wilson releases the files that will allow people to literally print their own guns at home.
Early this coming week, Cody Wilson will be releasing the open-source, 3D-printable CAD files that will allow people to print plastic guns in their homes without background checks, permits, or even serial numbers.
Wilson, a law student at the University of Texas, founded a non-profit group called Defense Distributed as an “effort to create freely available plans for 3D printable guns.”
The specific purposes for which [Defense Distributed] is organized are: To defend the civil liberty of popular access to arms as guaranteed by the United States Constitution and affirmed by the United States Supreme Court, through facilitating global access to, and the collaborative production of, information and knowledge related to the 3D printing of arms; and to publish and distribute, at no cost to the public, such information and knowledge in promotion of the public interest.
While the project may be in the name of freedom and constitutional rights, open-source plans for untraceable, undetectable guns could make it possible for every responsible NRA member, gun-wielding criminal, or curious teenager to create illegal weapons from home.
“You can print a lethal device,” Wilson told to Forbes journalist Andy Greenberg. “It’s kind of scary, but that’s what we’re aiming to show.”
Indeed, it is scary to think of the possible effects that these 3D-printable weapons could have on society. If or when the government finds a way to make these guns legal, then what? Will it make illegal distribution even easier as well?
Of equal concern is how the public as a whole could see some huge changes as a result of legal plastic guns. If gun manufacturers are able to produce plastic guns at a fraction of the cost of metal guns, we are sure to see a drop in gun prices, which could affect the number of guns that enter the market legally and affordably. These lightweight counterparts could mean more people carrying guns, for their own safety or just because they can. Teenagers will have greater access to guns, and with young men statistically more prone to violence and suicide, we could see the number of gun fatalities spike.
Legalizing the printable guns will not guarantee safety in their design or the materials used to make them. Guns may enter the market from less-than diligent manufacturers that have the potential to explode in one’s hand—and this is not just a concern for criminals who buy or make them illegally but for any gun enthusiast.
This may become a bigger problem overseas. Defense Distributed intends the CAD files for the guns to be available freely online, but while the U.S. Constitution may guarantee us the right to bear arms, what extra dangers and consequences could countries with much stricter limits on gun possession, such as China, Germany, or the United Kingdom, face when the plans reach the internet?
As the day for the files’ release draws nearer and the prototype for “the Liberator,” the plastic pistol Wilson created, has already been successfully and legally printed, the company’s U.S. political opponents are gunning hard for the plans to be banned before they hit the internet. New York congressman Steve Israel issued a press release Friday: “When I started talking about the issue of plastic firearms months ago, I was told the idea of a plastic gun is science-fiction. Now that this technology is proven, we need to act now to extend the ban [on] plastic firearms.”
UPDATE 5/6/13: According to the defcad.org website, the files have been officially released.
Watch the gun being fired here:
H/T for video: Mashable