'Nightmare' for Gun-Control Advocates: 3D Printers
Websites offer downloadable blueprints, high-tech gadgets print in plastic
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Feb 19, 2013 11:22 AM CST
A screen grab from YouTube video on 3D-printed guns.   (YouTube)

(Newser) – Gun-control advocates are facing a very modern problem: Anyone with a computer and a 3D printer—which use plastic instead of ink—could theoretically become a gun maker. Websites offer blueprints that users can download; within hours, they'll have brand-new rifle parts or ammunition magazines, the Washington Post reports. And the fact that they could skirt any new regulations with ease is a "nightmare" for the politicians pushing for new restrictions, says a pro-gun lobbyist.

"There’s really no one controlling what you do in your own home," says Travis Lerol, a software engineer who's printed the plastic parts, which he has yet to test at a gun range. At least one site, Defense Distributed, has logged hundreds of thousands of blueprint downloads already. For the founder of that site, it's all about "a symbolic challenge to a system that says we can see everything, regulate everything ... My challenge is: Regulate this." While 3D printers may be expensive now (Lerol's cost $1,300), their prices are likely to drop as they gain popularity. New York Rep. Steve Israel says it's time to crack down on the threat by renewing and amending a law set to expire this year: 1998's Undetectable Firearms Act, which bars the manufacture of a gun that can slip past airport scanners; he wants it to also include plastic ammunition magazines.

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Showing 3 of 84 comments
Just_Dave
Feb 20, 2013 7:57 AM CST
When they outlaw printers, only outlaws will have printers.
realtruth
Feb 20, 2013 7:30 AM CST
When I was 14 years old.. I made a 410, center fire, Single shot, Blunder bust Pistol.. Kicked like heck.. Could have really used a 3d printed handle. I come from a machinist family.. No one in my family are gun smiths. Yes you can do this.. Maybe Not the barrel.. But that could be made form steel with a Hand Held Electric drill. Most of the other parts could have been made on a printer. The size and thickness of some parts would need to be modified for the strength difference.
Ultraworld
Feb 19, 2013 4:36 PM CST
You can "print" the parts, but the plastics used in gun making are not used in a 3D printer. They are used for prototyping. to make sure the parts fit. Then they go to a machine shop for manufacture or injection molding. You wont be "printing" the carbon fiber parts needed for a gun.