When the New York Times wrote of the improved technology of 3D printing this writer responded with a frivolous blog about it, scoring the concerns of anti-gun people about how the technology will allow everyone who wants one to have a gun without government oversight or knowledge. One of those in the anti-gun camp is Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, who said that 3D printing is u201Cgoing to be a big concern. We don't know how that's going to come about and don't know what technology.u201D
That technology is evolving before his very eyes. The RepRap Project aims to produce free and open source software for 3D printers, including software that allows the printer to produce its own parts. Two years ago RepRap allowed printers to create tiny plastic parts for small motors as well as circuit boards for computers. Today it allows hobbyists to build household items like fully-functional clocks, flashlights, iPad cases, watchbands … and receivers for rifles.
And it is this virtual explosion in technology that is making other gun controllers increasingly nervous, including Mark Gibbs, a contributor at Forbes, who wrote,
I'm in favor of tighter gun control and a ban on weapons that are unnecessarily powerful but I'm afraid that technology will soon make any legislation that limits the availability of any kinds of guns ineffective.
With the decrease in prices for 3D printers, and the improvement in the software to drive them, the capability to print weapons at home is coming into the reach of the average citizen. Gibbs warned,
Using either free or low cost computer aided drafting software you can create digital 3D models of pretty much anything you can think of and, with hardly any fuss, your 3D printer will render them as physical objects.
And when that happens, there will be more guns, not fewer, and the government won't know where they are or how to track them:
What's particularly worrisome is that the capability to print metal and ceramic parts will appear in low end printers in the next few years making it feasible to print an entire gun and that will be when gun control becomes a totally different problem.
Gibbs is already behind the times. In December, Dan Verton noted on hstoday.com that u201Cthe time is fast approaching when anybody with a few thousand dollars … can design and manufacture their own guns.u201D He corrected himself, adding, u201CActually, that time has already arrived.u201D