3D Printed Guns Should Be Legal, But Are They Safe?

There’s a lot being said about this new technology-trend, but let’s keep it simple. Safety first! Read more about what’s wrong with 3D printed guns HERE

3d gun

Jason Hanson

There is an ongoing debate in the news related to 3D printed guns. This argument started years ago — when Cody Wilson first shot his 3D printed gun in 2013. Once Wilson had developed the plans for his gun, he wanted to share them with the world. He planned to do this through his company called Defense Distributed.

His goal was to create a website where people could download and share blueprints for do-it-yourself gun manufacturing. Once the federal government caught wind of this, they immediately shut down the website based on export regulations to censor technical information. (Yes, that sounds like a load of crap to me too.)

Over the last few years, Defense Distributed and the U.S. State Department have battled back and forth over the legality of 3D printed guns. However, in July, the U.S. State Department settled a legal case and allowed Defense Distributed to go ahead and release the 3D printing plans online.

The problem is once this issue was settled, 19 states sued the State Department and Defense Distributed in an attempt to stop the release of the blueprints. At this time, a judge has issued a temporary restraining order blocking the publication of the blueprints.

What’s All the Fuss?

As the name implies, a 3D printed gun is a gun made mostly of plastic from a 3D printer. Now, the key word is “mostly” because the gun still requires a firing pin and a piece of metal. The purpose of the piece of metal is to ensure the gun complies with the U.S. Undetectable Firearms Act.

Essentially, it is a federal offense to “manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, possess, transfer or receive” a firearm capable of defeating airport metal detection. However, I realize most criminals probably don’t care about following the law.

Now, you may be wondering what the big deal is about 3D printed guns and why some people are so against them. Well, even though the gun requires a firing pin, you could technically hide the firing pin and the small piece of steel separately. Then you could carry the gun and walk right through security checkpoints.

And since these guns are homemade, they don’t have a serial number. They are basically “ghost guns.” Also, people wouldn’t have to go through a background check to get a 3D printed gun like they would if they were buying a regular firearm from a retail location. Anyone could simply print one in the privacy of their own home.

The reality is a 3D printed firearm is definitely not the easiest way to get a gun. Plus, the majority of criminal lowlifes aren’t going to have the means (or the patience) to 3D print a gun.

What I mean is if a responsible gun owner wanted to build a firearm, they could simply go the 80% receiver route (commonly offered for AR15-style firearms). In other words, simply buy a receiver that is about 80% of a working receiver. You only need to use a drill press or hand tool to finish the remaining 20%.

Finally, 3D printed guns aren’t dependable and can easily fail. The plastic simply isn’t strong enough to withstand the explosion caused by a firing cartridge.

In fact, many people have tried to develop plastic guns only to have them explode upon firing. So while I love guns and fully support 3D printed guns, they’re just not quality or sophisticated enough at this time.

I have no doubt they will be in the future. But right now, I wouldn’t trust one with my life if someone was kicking down my front door at 3 a.m.

Jason Hanson is a former CIA Officer and New York Times bestselling author of Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life. To get a free copy of his book, visit www.SpyEscape.com.

5 thoughts on “3D Printed Guns Should Be Legal, But Are They Safe?”

  1. Wow, an article that brings us the subject of 3D printed and then doesn’t mention the cost of the printer or the cost of the material to actually manufacture it. I’ve read that the equipment to manufacture it is in the realm of 200,000 dollars. Again, no practicality. Just partial info released to the public and the dumb lawmakers to create a negative response.

    1. I just did a Google search about the price of 3D printers, they can be had as low as $300.00 for low end to $6,000.00 for much better.

      But the cost of the printer should not even enter the matter, even if the 3D printer was free to own and use, making a gun for your own use is legal.

      1. While you are correct in the cost of a cheap 3d printer, one needed to successfully manufacture will likely exceed 8,000 dollars and the time required is substantial. For that amount of money you can build one that is more functional and longer lasting and have money for big macs for a couple of years. We understand that our desire to build something with our own hands or equipment, eg 3d, is appealing, it is not very practical. Here is an exerpt from the web: While 3D printers are commercially available for several hundred dollars, not every printer is capable of producing a firearm, much less one that actually works. The Liberator was printed on a machine costing approximately $8,000, and printers with superior capabilities range from that to upwards of $100,000. The printing process is lengthy, requiring multiple hours (or even days) for a finished product.
        Additionally, a 3D printed gun is a crude weapon—it cannot withstand repeated firing, is unpredictable, and has limited accuracy. While any functional firearm certainly has the capability of causing death or great bodily harm, 3D printing is unlikely to be the source of choice for those looking to cheaply and quickly procure firearms, either to use personally or distribute illegally.

  2. “Then you could carry the gun and walk right through security checkpoints.”
    So, where is the ammunition for this plastic gun? Don’t you have to get ammunition through a scanner? Maybe a plastic 3D-printed gun is so scary you don’t need ammunition. It seems to scare “journalists”.

  3. To produce 3D objects on a production or commercial basis, $200K is fairly low-end. However, an individual that has the patience, and desire can assemble a crude yet effectual 3D printing setup for well under 5K. This is still far more expensive than buying in the normal retail firearms world.

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