Documentary explores 3D printed guns

I know it’s been a while since we’ve talked about this but I recently stumbled on a documentary about the potential of printing assault rifles and high capacity magazines that I don’t believe we’ve talked about yet.

The documentary found here takes a realistic view on the potential of the new and rapidly developing technology. The documentary focus on a 25-year old who is advocating the creation and open distribution of CAD blueprints for various weapon parts and demonstrates their functionality. His main argument is that gun control and bans are futile and pointless due to the availability of new these new technologies(internet + 3D printing). The self-described crypto anarchist uses his own website, along with friends in the field, to host and create new and better pieces available to the open public. Anyone with internet can access these files and anyone with a 3D printer can create these objects. There is a chilling resemblance between his methods of addressing a situation and that of firesheeps’s. He has also recently been approved for a federal firearms license. This means that he will be able to sell his printed guns, as well as host blueprint of the files via his website. No one can predict the impact of this new technology but everyone agrees it is getting easier and cheaper to do. It’s only a matter of time until 3D printers become common household items.

Obviously new technologies bring change but what is the potential for this new technology? Do you think the danger lies with the ability to create a gun at home, the open source nature of the blueprints or both?

Do you agree with Cody’s methods of spreading awareness or do you think he is going too far?



6 Responses to Documentary explores 3D printed guns

  1. I really think 3D printers could be an amazing new household technology. Imagine if plan on cooking a large meal and you need another strainer, so you just get out your laptop and print out a strainer. That’s absolutely amazing. However, the dilemma is in what people decide to print. As a result, what if buying a 3D printer was made reasonable and in order to print anything you had to purchase the design off of a website, and the design would only work for a certain number of prints.

    With a system like this in place, it would be easy to regulate what was printed and how easy it was to print certain objects. For example, heavy regulations could be placed on anything that was lethal, but kitchen ware (not knives) would be easy to obtain. Granted, there would be “hackers” that would try to find and illegally distribute the designs for guns and magazines, but the printers themselves could have a fail-safe that would require an activation of some sort in order to print guns or magazines for example.

    Personally, I think with safety features like this the 3D printer could be relatively safe for people to have as household items. Not to mention how absurdly convenient having one would be. Does anyone think something like this could work?

    • I forgot to put this in my post, but with rules like I mentioned above, the 3D printers would increase the overall happiness (due to its convenience) and therefore be morally right by act utilitarianism. however, if by some means mass amounts of weapons are printed by someone who is unauthorized, this instantly becomes morally wrong.

    • There is a system like the one you are describing to keep 2D printers from making copies of US money. However, it only works because there are a finite set of different types of money to check for. With stopping something like printing guns I feel it would be impossible because one change and it becomes a never see before gun that a simple filter won’t stop.

      Even if you can have an AI system to recognize guns the same way it can tell if something is a cat; since there are already 3D printers out there you can’t recall them all and put the anti-gun printing software on them. Unlike other goods that you could just wait and eventually they will break down and you have to get a new one (which would have the anti-gun software restriction on it) 3D printers can print their own replacement parts and even a new copy of it selves.

      The lethal definition could also use some refining. You could kill someone with a plastic toothpick if you stuck it in the right spot, but stopping 3D printer from printing them out in any size seems like a slippy slope that leads to everything being ban from printing.

  2. SmellsLikeLavender

    I agree with Glen. people will always find ways around any safe guards you put on these printers. if someone wants it to print guns, or to print us plates to print money on 2-D printers, they will find a way. this is a great idea and a true piece or revolutionary technology. if used in the medical field and places like that then it i could see it being a positive thing. but having them in every house would not work. besides the risk of printing illegal things, it would kill our economy. even if it just printed kitchen things, and there was a limit to how many prints you could make, the economy would suffer. 1 man could sit at his house and upload the files for how to print these items, then just profit off of every one who buys it. while the raw material market, all kitchen appliance companies, and even places like walmart or target would suffer from a lack of consumer need.

    we live in a consumer based economy. a massed produced 3-D printer would crush our economy and force tens of thousands of people out of jobs in the long run. the only markets left would be the basic utilities everyone needs. and not everyone could be a farmer, electrician, plumber, or doctor. all consumer based companies and there employes would suffer greatly.

    If we look at this through the utilitarian idea like you started with, it would be a close call between the happiness provided from convenience, but more likely it would be out weighted by the loss of jobs and money.

    • I like your response but it seems to me that you’re advocating FArtS, which we talked about in class. I would be willing to bet that companies would still find ways to make their products better than those that can be printed, as printers do have many limitations. Limitations for them include: materials, accuracy, manufacturing (one piece at a time) and size. I think that 3D printers could help force economies to create better products. The widespread availability of clean drinking water forces bottled water companies to make their water taste better, or force them to advertise to make it seem like their water is better. Businesses would be forced to adapt to the technologies. Car manufacturers would be forced to use higher quality components when the average person can print out a reinforced plastic frame for a new bumper. In addition, most items that could be printed with current technology: cups, strainers, bottles, plates, etc. are produced in China, Taiwan and other countries. It wouldn’t affect as many average Americans as you think. Although, it would probably affect the bottom line of many CEOs who run the companies that produce those items. Overall, I think that 3D printing will force markets to adapt to the demand, but FArtS will continue to rule the market.

  3. I watched the documentary and i was stunned by the 3D printing technology. Cody Wilson printed the high powered machine gun from the comfort of his home to prove to the government that the gun control act now is not the same as it used to be, because anyone with a 3D printer and a computer can make a gun.

    The important issue is, is it safe to let this technology get into households? As Kelling mentioned, the issue is know to use the technology. I don’t thing it is okay for people to have access to this technology because it will cause more harm than good; people go through all the hustle to purchase guns and ammunition, and even gun licence in order to commit a gun violence; what if you can make your own gun, that will be a disaster.This reminds me of the ACM guidelines,based on the ACM guidelines, this act will be considered unethical because the public interest is not served; Wilson promote his own interest at the expense of the profession and so on.

    I believe, is the point of Forced Artificial Scarcity (FArtS), to control society and put cost to things that we can acquire for free. It will be of great benefit to use this technology to make house utensils, and other useful materials for home and office use; but people always take things to the next level, either for fun or the do harm. The moral justification will be that it will be morally right if it brings more happiness and morally wrong if it harms other. The best moral theory to use in this case is True to yourself theory, you know what is right and what is wrong, therefore the purpose of use of the
    D printing technology determine if it is right or wrong. To sum it all, i think Cody is going to far.