3D Printed Gun Ban Came Too Late
It's been months since Cody Wilson demonstrated the first-ever handgun made entirely of 3D printed parts (save for a nail) and shared the blueprints for the weapon online.
Those files, which were available on Wilson's website, DEFCAD.com, have since been removed from the site at the request of the U.S. Department of State — but too late to make a difference.
Thousands have already downloaded the blueprints for Wilson's "Liberator" handgun, which means that some, at least, are still churning out 3D-printed guns at home.
One such gunsmith is Travis Lerol, a 31-year-old gun collector who uses a 3D Systems Cubify Cube desktop printer to recreate the "Liberator" in the basement of his home outside of Baltimore. Despite it's rudimentary design, this 3D-printed gun fires real bullets.
"It is a very basic firearm, so it's very simple and fairly unreliable at this point," said Lerol. "But as a technological challenge, building a firearm out of plastic is quite difficult."
Lerol said he's learned a lot from his attempts at 3D printing his own firearm. He also said he doesn't think the "Liberator" will be turning up at any crime scenes in the near future.
"It's not a particularly dangerous firearm to others," he said. "It's a single-shot firearm, and we have much better firearms available commercially." [See also: Why 3D-Printed Guns Don't Faze Hunters or Gun Lobbyists]
In its decision to have Wilson remove the blueprints for the "Liberator" from his site, the Department of State cited existing weapons export legislation. And now state legislatures are scrambling to fix their own laws to ban the use of personal 3D printers for firearm production.
Gun control advocates worry that a lack of proper legislation surrounding this issue, coupled with the maturation of 3D printing technology, could lead to the rampant creation of more-sophisticated 3D-printed weapons.