Polymer pistols and plastic guns for assassins, spies or terrorists have long been a go-to plot trope for screenwriters to fall back on. However, it’s always been the stuff of legend–until now.
University of Texas law student Cody Wilson, 25, released a video of a 3D-printed gun named the "Liberator" taking test shots over the weekend. The gun is mostly made of plastic, with the exception of two metal pieces: a metal firing pin and a 6-ounce piece of steel that's required by law under the Undetectable Firearms Act. Of course, the piece of steel that makes the weapon visible to metal detectors, and legal, can certainly be omitted by future hobbyists.
According to Forbes, Wilson is a radical libertarian and anarchist who wants anyone in the world to be able to download the blueprints for firearms online and print them. Wilson acknowledges his critics' concerns, but is not deterred.
"You can print a lethal device. It's kind of scary, but that's what we're aiming to show," Wilson told Forbes in a previous interview. "Anywhere there's a computer and an Internet connection, there would be the promise of a gun." The blueprint for Wilson's gun is available for download now and can be used by anyone who has access to a similar 3D printer.
…."This project might change the way we think about gun control and consumption. How do governments behave if they must one day operate on the assumption that any and every citizen has near instant access to a firearm through the Internet? Let's find out," a statement on the Defense Distributed Web site reads.
A few things stand out from that excerpt and Wilson's quote.
First of all, Wilson’s assumptions are based on some fraudulent premises. The government, 5-0 and most home burglars already operate under the assumption that anyone can own a handgun. Anyone, including felons and the mentally unstable can currently purchase firearms (thanks Congress).
The primary intent of Congress' attempts were to limit the amount of assault weapons being matriculated among felons and the mentally ill. Most of these printed guns appear to be plastic handguns and while these may sound like good intentions in Wilson's brain, these types of advances in weapons technology tend to have unintended drawbacks. This could be the first domino to fall.
If you don’t get the big deal though, let’s break it down. The components of these 3-D printed guns are constructed out of plastic. That makes it simpler for these weapons to pass metal detectors and through airport security. Thus, the very weapon Wilson believes would make Americans safer could empower terrorists. 3-D printers aren’t readily available, but at the turn of century neither were laptops. This is a dangerous precedent, being established by a naive individual. Based on the illogical reasoning for developing this technology, Wilson ironically comes across sounding like just the type of person who should never be allowed to legally own a gun.