Published: 06th August 2018
How the free flow of 3D guns could worsen the 'epidemic of armed violence' in the US
Now even guns are made using 3D technology and this has become a hot topic of public discourse
Some parents say it is toy guns that make boys warlike. But give a boy a rubber duck and he will seize its neck like the butt of a pistol and shout Bang— George Will, US columnist
For the uninitiated, 3D is the abbreviation for three-dimensionality and has wide applications, including 3D printing – making a three-dimensional solid object of a shape from a digital model, including human limbs like hands. Now even guns are made using 3D technology and this has become a hot topic of public discourse according to a news feature released from Washington on July 29, 2018, and widely carried in the media. But first, the facts as reported and excerpted here.
Dozens of US legislators are demanding that the Trump administration explain a recent agreement to allow the free distribution of plans for using 3D printers to make plastic handguns that will be easy to hide and almost impossible to control. After a lengthy legal battle, the government reached an agreement in June 2018 with Cody Wilson, a militant gun rights advocate from Texas.
He successfully argued that the US Constitution’s second amendment, which guarantees the right to private gun ownership, should extend to a person’s right to make guns at home — uncontrolled by authorities since they will bear no serial number.
Dozens of Democrats in both the US House of Representatives and the Senate have decried the settlement and are demanding an explanation from President Donald Trump’s administration, which has been extremely supportive of gun-owners’ rights. The agreement between the State Department, which controls the export of American arms, and Wilson’s Defense Distributed (DD) group was reached on June 29. But it remained secret until last week after groups advocating stronger gun controls demanded its publication. The consent agreement ‘permits any US citizen, including DD’s customers and SAF members to access, discuss, reproduce or otherwise benefit from the technical data that is the subject of the action’. SAF is Second Amendment Foundation, which supported Wilson’s suit and has called the settlement a “devastating blow to the gun prohibition lobby.”
The DD website invites anyone interested to download the programme to make so-called ‘ghost guns’ starting from August 1 when ‘the age of the downloadable gun formally begins.’ That means anyone with a 3D printer — which costs around $2,000 and can be programmed to make plastic-bodied guns at home for just a few hundred dollars each. Security experts fear that the guns may be able to evade detection by the metal detectors used in many buildings and airports.
Five US senators, all Democrats, have denounced the agreement as ‘stunning’ and ‘puzzling,’ and have demanded, in an open letter, that the government provide a written explanation of its thinking. “The settlement will allow these tutorials to be posted online for unlimited distribution to anyone — including felons and terrorists — both in the United States and abroad,” the Senators wrote. Forty-two Democratic members of the House of Representatives shared their own concerns, writing that the administration’s decision would only worsen the “epidemic of armed violence” in the US.
"So-called ‘ghost guns’ do not bear a manufacturer’s serial number and may be constructed using plastic materials that are impossible to screen at security checkpoints using metal detectors,” they wrote. "We shouldn’t have to wait for someone to kill someone in a House (which hosts the Senators and Representatives) office building after sneaking past security with a plastic 3D printed gun to do something to stop this."