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3D printed guns are a click away

Courtesy of Creative Commons and Keith Kissel

Courtesy of Creative Commons and Keith Kissel

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The debate over gun control takes a new turn: 3D printed firearms. With the release of the blueprints by Defense Distributed earlier this month, the possibility of printed weapons changes from a hypothetical to reality.  

The issue itself began in 2013, when the organization in question developed the world’s first printed gun, then publishing the blueprint on its website. Following this, the State Department ordered the blueprints to be taken down, and a legal battle began. This battle finally ended last month when the Trump administration settled on the case, allowing Defense Distributed to republish and expand on its older models. 

No matter what side of the gun debate you’re on, these guns pose a real threat to both national security and personal safety. If you support tighter gun restrictions, this is a major setback to gun reform and essentially makes background check registrations useless. Proponents of deregulation still need to address concerns over the potential for terrorists and dangerous criminals to gain access to guns undetectable by metal detectors.  

Defense Distributed founder and CEO Cody Wilson, a self-described anarchist who insists his company is a “non-profit defense firm,” has expressed very little personal responsibility or interest in how these guns will be used, seeing himself more as an innovator than an activist. Even after the release of the so-called “ghost guns,” Defense Distributed continues to work new designs for plastic weapons. With a corporation who refuses to cooperate, a major pro-gun organization in full support, and the federal government unable or unwilling to act, the case seems all but closed. 

The question is, what do we do now? First, the good news. As of August 2, 20 states and the District of Colombia have already filed a lawsuit to challenge the ruling by the Trump administration, so far resulting in a temporary restraining order against the publishing of further blueprints. If successful in creating a more permanent solution, the outcome of this case could make the publishing of these types of schematics illegal. Although the NRA would say plastic weapons are already illegal under the Undetectable Firearms Act, the presence of these blueprints online is just as dangerous. In fact, a lot of damage has already been done. Designs previously posted were downloaded several thousand times, which means, like it or not, they’re out there.  

We can’t stop the problem, but we can keep it from getting worse. The outcome of that lawsuit could change depending on public opinion, and the more attention we pay the less likely it will get pushed to the side. Raise awareness, make noise, and ask your representative why Florida isn’t a part of the movement. If no one else will take steps to keep us safe, it is our responsibility to take action

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