3D Printers have almost infinite uses in the manufacturing industry, but what about the illegal production of contraband good and weapons?
In the wake of the tragic shooting in Colorado earlier this week, the Atomic forums entered a discussion on gun control and gun laws not only in Australia but the USA. Naturally as conversation progresses the topic goes off track a little, and one Atomican discovered a forum discussing the manufacture of AR15 lower receivers.
At first glance some readers, and especially gun enthusiasts may say "so what, why is this any different to making your own car parts?". Well, the answer really is very simple, an engine part is not an object designed with the specific purpose of forging a weapon, a lower receiver is for the most part, is destined for such duties.
For now, the forum user has only managed to construct a lower receiver, but from reading his post, it hasn't taken him all that long to manufacture, and given that the serial number is usually located on the lower receiver of the AR15, it essentially makes this gun untraceable to the Police if left at the scene of a crime.
Assuming this "hobby" continues, and people create more fully functioning assault rifle parts, there is going to be a rather large increase in illegal gun ownership. The scary part is, that all you need is a 3D printer and the know-how to design your own print files, or simply download any current projects from firearm forums like the one linked below.
Given that each of these lower receivers apparently costs around $35 to manufacture (excluding the cost of electricity and the printer rental / purchase), this could lead to a very profitable industry, with big organised crime groups moving in to take over from these "hobbyists".
What is the solution to this problem? How will customs cope with guns made almost entirely from plastic, and cheap enough to manufacture that the producers don't care about a couple of confiscated shipments? Is ammunition control the only line of defence? Given nearly anyone can purchase ammunition online in the USA and many other countries it seems that will be an uphill battle.
Australia has managed to live a fairly gun-free existence for the past 20 years, but there is a potential for change now. If "The Bikeys" or other media-promoted big crime groups in the country start the manufacture of cheap and illegal weapons, we could see a large increase in gun-related violence and crimes, something that has been on a healthy decline.
Do you think controlling licencing for 3D printing is the answer? Or tighter regulation on ammunition production and sale?