Who knew that we would approach the age where printing would not just be limited to papers and texts. Thanks to the advancement in technology, because of which people all around the world are now exploring printers to obtain 3-dimensional objects such as houses and guns.
Still feels unbelievable? Well no more!
3D printed guns are made from printers using plastic and a set of downloadable plans and software on the computer. Different components of the weapon are designed using the software after which physical elements such as plastic are provided in the printer, and the parts are printed. These parts of the guns are then assembled to form full-fledged plastic firearms that are still capable of firing more than a couple of fatal shotgun shots. The world’s first 3D printed gun was printed in the year 2013 and was called the Liberator.
But as these 3D printed guns have started gaining pace in its production, it is alarming critical lawmakers around the world. Not considering the intention behind these guns, plenty of questions behind the legality and offence concerning these guns have started to make rounds in the world.
Lawmakers are considering how to regulate the usage of these guns and bringing up policies for the same. However specific questions still arise such as Should the people with designs for these printed guns be charged with the similar offence as that of real guns or has the media highlighted and popularised the usage of 3D guns?
However, printing the gun parts don’t make a 3D printed gun ready to fire. The gun still requires a firing pin, for which a steel nail is best substituted. The blueprints of the gun that are found in Defence distributions are only of the frames of the gun. As a result, these are not the critical parts of the weapon such as barrels, stocks, bolt etc. For this reason, there is not much to be afraid of the gun.
The main reason why 3D guns are making the rounds in media is that of the fact that it is not traceable. The creator the Liberator, Wilson, has found a technique to print these 3D guns and keep them without the metal barrel. This means that when they are passing through a metal detector, these guns will be hard to detect, which ideally shouldn’t be the case. Also, since the plastic is smooth to destroy, people can quickly get away with it as compared to metal guns. This will, in turn, raise the crime ratio concerning the illegal trade of firearms and other such issues.
However, the researchers are working on ways to tracking down the 3D guns so that they do not pose such threats to humanity. According to researchers, each of the 3D printed guns have their unique fingerprints, which make them trackable. The fingerprints are because when 3D printer prints a weapon, it is slightly different from other guns that are printed from the same machine. So, even though the blueprint of the weapon might be the same, it is different in its fingerprint. The fingerprints are minor defects or variations from the specific blueprint design or technical design of the gun.
Moreover, as the gun is fired more often, it will create further imperfections in the gun, making it more and more traceable. These imperfections arise due to wrinkles on the weapon that is of the millimetre size. Even though they might not be distinguished via the naked eye, advanced algorithms and tracing machines can make out the difference and spot them easily.
Though 3D printers pose irreplaceable harm to humanity due to their improper use, they are also a boon to the defence sector of the country. It has the potential to make more firearms readily, but the problem is to stop them making accessible to ordinary people for their usage. Till now, 3D printed guns are not commonly observed on the streets, but that doesn’t mean they won‘t be a common sight one day. The lawmakers such as courts are working towards banning the free download of the gun patterns for ordinary people. However, there’s a lot to be discussed about the future of these guns.