The state of 3D printing continues its technological progress. More printers and improved technologies are making it possible to create many common objects with plasticized printers that created three-dimensional objects. The objects are somewhat durable, but nothing like steel or other highly durable and hard substances. Despite producing relatively weak objects, 3D printing technology is scaring anti-gun activists into action in America.
Under President Barack Obama, the U.S. State Dept. in 2015 ordered Austin, Texas-based Defense Distributed to cease uploading schematics for 3D printed guns. The firm created digital schematics for 3D printed firearms and made them available via online downloads. The Obama administration said that amounted to exporting firearms and threatening national security.
Defense Distributed challenged the Obama administration in a federal lawsuit. It dropped the matter after President Trump reversed the ban in 2018.
Declaring 3D printed guns a threat to national security lacks sound reasoning. Anti-gunners refer to 3D printed guns as “ghost guns,” which are untraceable. While 3D printed guns are not registered, their usable life is almost non-existent. A criminal would be far better off stealing a firearm, buying one on the black market, or making a zip gun than relying on a 3D printed firearm. A 3D printed firearm would last a few shots at most before becoming a massive liability for the person shooting it.
As of now, it is impossible for a 3D printer to create an accurate firearm capable of sustained combat. Because it could not sustain more than a few rounds, you could not practice with one. The barrel likely would undergo massive changes, too, as the projectile exited on each round. Short of a very close encounter, the likelihood of a 3D printed firearm being effective is very slim.
The potential for making untraceable firearms using 3D printing technology continues growing. But viable firearms simply are not made using current technology.
Barring a way to create hardened steel from a printer, 3D printing technology likely never will produce a viable firearm. The current technology produces items that are too brittle to withstand sustained firing. Odds are, one would blow up in your hand after only a few shots were fired.
The ability to shoot even a couple rounds inaccurately from a plastic firearm that you could print nearly out of thin air has anti-gunners scared. The attorneys general of 21 states and the District of Columbia want to stop the release of the blueprints for 3D printed guns. They recently filed a federal action to negate the Trump administration’s reversal of the ban on uploading the schematics for 3D printed firearms.
In an apparent bit of true irony, the current presidential administration must do more than simply announce a contrary position, U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik recently ruled in the Western District of Washington federal court. Judge Lasnik said the Trump administration must address the claims made by the Obama administration regarding 3D printed arms.
Those claims declare the 3D printed arms amount to threats to national security. The recent federal court ruling and the challenge by the 21 attorneys general are not based on current reality. They are based on fear of firearms that no sensible person would use for self-defense or any other purpose.
A true ghost gun is one that has an action with no serial number. Those actions are unfinished and require extensive machining – not 3D printers.