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35 Responses to “Cody R Wilson's 3D-printed guns: the VICE documentary”

  1. jon_anon says:

    I can’t tell what to think! Open source plans and freedom to 3D-print what you want: good; but assault weapons: double plus ungood! (This isn’t snark, I’m serious – do I applaud this guy or think he’s an a-hole? My brain is going to explode.) 

    • oasisob1 says:

      He’s a maker; you applaud him. I think the point to be made is that with all the making going on, regulating 3D printing is ludicrous, because anyone with the brains, money and desire can make a 3D printer free of restriction or regulation. They could then print a gun or a knife or whatever their heart desires without interference.

  2. sigismund says:

    “murika : newest technology dedicated to moronism.

  3. peregrinus says:

    Newspaper editors are just itching to pull the trigger on the front page with

    Killer uses guns printed in bedroom


    It’s a bit scary, really.  Clever, but scary.

  4. Snig says:

    Make it illegal to print them, but legal to have the source code. Individuals don’t then have to worry about hording assault weapons in case of invasion by North Korea or the New Black Panther Party.  They can print the guns when the Wolverines give the say so. 

    • phyphor says:

      As a Brit (and therefore someone for whom there is a very different culture surrounding guns) this seems like a fantastic idea.

    • andygates says:

      That’s a mathematician’s answer.  You can’t test the manufacturing, nor train with the weapons, before you need them working and skillfully so.

  5. Crashproof says:

    This is such a sticky problem that sci-fi authors (well, Greg Bear anyway) handwaved it away with consumer nanotech that couldn’t produce weapons, and military-grade stuff that could.  Which I thought was silly at the time; even if you take as given that only the military version can make high explosives, you can still construct a magnetic coil gun or compressed air gun for instance.


    • oasisob1 says:

      Or instruct your consumer nanobots to manufacture the parts to make your own military-grade nanobots.

  6. Bozobub Demon Lord of Clowns says:

    There’s no conceivable way to fully prevent people from making 3D-printed weapons; there’s just too many possible ways to do so.  Hell, you can make a gun out of laminated metal that’s been bolted/riveted together!

  7. peregrinus says:

    You can imagine nano-level inclusions in the input materials that … sci fi here … communicate with the printer to identify what’s being manufactured, and fail to print gun parts etc.

    Thing is, this works for AV media, but the attraction to overcome that on a massive scale just isn’t there.  Guns however deliver military power, so DRM etc – just going to totally fail even more than AV DRM.

    • phyphor says:

      Doesn’t something like this already happen if you try to print something too similar to currency?

      • peregrinus says:

        Seemed to work for the Fed.

      • andygates says:

        No. Some printers print indentifying marks invisible to the eye, so you can tell that this fake banknote was made by HP Laserjet serial 123456789.

        This raises a privacy concern if you can identify other stuff (“Join the Union!” flyers) as easily.

        • bardfinn says:

          Yes. Most modern printers with the capacity to possibly print currency, sold in the US, have a piece of silicon dedicated to :
          Recognising currency being printed;
          Shutting down with a SERVICE REQUIRED cryptic error message;
          Phoning home to the manufacturer and the us secret service via the Internet.

          Iterate for your country of choice.

          Don’t photocopy/print realistic currency.

  8. And this, friends, is why we need background checks and licenses for 3D printers.

  9. puppybeard says:

    Here’s where I stop caring: it’s plastic.
    There was a bit of rush to make a plastic gun in the 80s, but it never happened.
    Springs: nope.
    Firing pin: nope.
    Barrel: double-nope.

    These folks are willfully ignoring key physical requirements so they sound like a big deal. They aren’t. Every part of a gun that can be made from plastic has probably been made from plastic. You need better than that.

    The Poles did a great job on it with the Błyskawica submachine gun, a copy of the Sten made in underground workshops, used to fight against occupying Nazis. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B%C5%82yskawica_submachine_gun
    Want to something to be scared of? Engineers.

    Members of the tinfoil-hat brigade wielding plastic printers? I won’t hold my breath.

    Afterthought: the first time these people make an assault rifle with a plastic barrel, I want to be there when they fire it, so I can watch with my popcorn from behind a ballistic shield. It will explode, is what I’m saying.

    • oasisob1 says:

      I think you’re missing what I think is the point. The story is about regulating 3D printing to prevent someone from printing a gun. ‘Gun’ being defined only as some few very specific parts of a complete weapon. The rest of the things, like the springs, firing pin, barrels, etc, are too easily sourced legally from a host of other industries. It’s impossible to ban springs as a form of gun control, so they narrow the parts of the weapon down to what could ONLY be used for a weapon, and impose regulations on the production of that.

      • puppybeard says:

         Ah, that’s a good point.

        Where I’m from, you need to present a license to buy gun components, and even bullets for that matter, so I wasn’t thinking about it in those terms.

        US gun laws are insanely liberal, from my perspective.

  10. peregrinus says:

    And anyway, since we’re on topic:  Gun deaths since Newtown are over 3,000 – including quite a few children. 


  11. drew millecchia says:

    It’s perfectly legal to craft your own gun. That’s really all this is. Even with all the talk about 3D printing, it’s still in the realm or makers and hobbyists.. a pretty awesome hobby, but a hobby none the less. And as makers, they take pride in DIY whether it’s actually practical or not. ‘Just because you can’ is actually a perfectly good reason to do it in this case, and in the long run it will still be the only reason to do it.
    Unfortunately, they are bringing 3D printing into the vitriol of the gun control ‘conversation’. I am completely for gun control, but I’m also very in to this burgeoning technology and I’m afraid that it’s association in the media will seriously hurt that development.
    If it were actually a practical or realistic way to make guns I’m sure the gun manufacturers would be all over this. I’m not even sure they prototype using this technology.And now, Defense Distributed has a Federal License to manufacture guns, so it’s totally legal for them to do it, and sell them. It’s kind of defeating their ‘freedom’, ‘wikileaks’, ‘anarchist cookbook’ counterculture they are preaching.

    Instead of just proving you can, they should use their talents to design a safer, more responsible gun design. Then sell it to a manufacturer, or more to the idealism, license it for free.

  12. Mister44 says:

    For a second I thought my link had been green lit, but it seems Xeni found this on her own.

    I like the guys attitude. He isn’t a gun nut – he’s a freedom nut. I like his take on high capacity magazines and how 3D Printing makes a ban futile – “You can’t ban a box with a spring.”

  13. AnthonyC says:

    It’s already legal to forge, cast, or machine your own gun. 3D printing isn’t really different in essence, except the resulting guns don’t currently work very well.

    • da_phonz says:

      Besides that fact that a file to print a gun takes no skill to manufacture.

    • peregrinus says:

       They seem to work all too well in the vid.  These mass / spree killers seem to favour being close in anyway, so range accuracy isn’t an issue.  Indiscriminate spraying seems to be a benefit.

      You’d need to be able to print a ‘proper’ gun only if you were going to be part of an organised militia.

  14. dirtyid says:

    Don’t worry, just print your own body armor, or flak jackets once they figure out how to print bombs.

  15. I hope Illegal Downloads won’t hurt the weapons Industry.