Printable gunsDownloadable, printable gun technology may change gun-ownership landscape

Published 26 December 2012

An Austin, Texas-based Defense Distributed says its mission is to create the WikiWeapon: a downloadable Internet file which will allow users to print their gun on a 3D printer; when the development process is complete, “any person has near-instant access to a firearm through the Internet,” the company says;the company adds: “This project might change the way we think about gun control and consumption. How do governments behave if they must one day operate on the assumption that any and every citizen has near instant access to a firearm through the Internet? Let’s find out”

Austin, Texas-based Defense Distributed says its mission is to produce and publish information related to the 3D printing of firearms. Beginning with little expertise and even less financial backing, the group first believed this production would be a limited, trial-oriented, and error-filled process. The group says that in recent months its expertise and capabilities have been greatly augmented, but the first order production goal remains the same: produce and publish a file for a WikiWep, a completely printable gun — or as near to completely printable — as actually possible with current technologies. There have been stories about printed rifle receivers and plastic Glock handguns, but Defense Distributed says its project imagines firearms only at their most essential: wWhat printable configuration of geometries and materials will allow for the reliable and safe firing of a single round of ammunition.

These guns will be almost completely plastic, so melting and failing in the user’s hand will be a concern.

The company says that only after a battery of testing the best designs to failure will it find the way to rate a WikiWep as safe for use. This process may be the most difficult phase of the organization’s operations. There are many kinds of printers and many ways to test the same concepts. Also, the group wants to minimize negative media about the safety concerns of untested firearms, “and the inevitable suggestion that government agencies are necessary to protect us from ourselves.”

Provided candidate files and prototypes can make it through testing, the next phase requires adaptation of the design down to some of the most commonly available of 3D printers.

Defense Distributed says it has chosen the RepRap printer to be this platform. The company says it hopes the result will be an easily accessible and replicable design. “From such a point, any person has near-instant access to a firearm through the Internet,” the company says.

The company adds: “This project might change the way we think about gun control and consumption. How do governments behave if they must one day operate on the assumption that any and every citizen has near instant access to a firearm through the Internet? Let’s find out.”

University of Texas law student Cody Wilson, 24-year-old Wiki Weapons project leader for Defense Distributed, admits that creating technologies which will allow for even more guns to flow into a gun-saturated society, and make efforts to regulate gun ownership nearly impossible, would likely exacerbate gun violence in the United States. This is a price he is willing to pay: “Clearly what happened in Connecticut was a tragedy,” he told AP. “Still, by affording the Second Amendment protection, we understand events like these will happen.”

 

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