3D-Printable Guns Targeted after Sandy Hook
A still shot from a video posted by Defense Distributed of a 3D printed gun part failing during a live-fire test.
CREDIT: Defense Distributed
Gun parts made by futuristic 3D printers have come under fire after the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The school shooting apparently prompted MakerBot, a 3D printing company, to remove digital blueprints for gun parts hosted on its design-sharing website.
MakerBot had previously allowed users of its Thingiverse website to share and download files for gun parts, according to BBC News. But a MakerBot attorney confirmed that the Sandy Hook shooting had forced the 3D printing company to change its mind — the company's terms of service already included a provision banning the "creation of weapons" among other "illegal" or "objectionable" materials.
That represents a fresh blow for gun enthusiasts who had hoped to build a fully 3D-printed gun through their "Wiki Weapon" project. The enthusiasts, organized under the name Defense Distributed, had applied for a federal manufacturing license so that they could begin testing 3D-printed guns by year's end.
A preliminary firing test with a single 3D-printed receiver part for an AR-15 assault rifle failed after just six shots. That incident highlighted the challenges of creating 3D-printable parts from plastic that can hold up to the stress of a gun's firing action.
But the test alarmed one New York Congressman enough to call for a renewal of the federal ban on plastic guns that can sneak by metal detectors. The Undetectable Firearms Act does not specifically target 3D-printable guns, but it could force the Wiki Weapon team to adjust their plans.
Still, even this latest setback doesn't seem to have discouraged the Wiki Weapon team. Cody Wilson, founder of Defense Distributed, vowed to get around MakerBot's ban by putting up a new site for "'fugitive' 3D-printable gun files."