Should We Be Afraid of the 3D Printed Gun?

By Glenn Reynolds

On May 5, 2013, the world’s first 3D-printed plastic gun was fired. Called the Liberator, it was designed and output by a group called Defense Distributed, headed by a 25-year-old Texas law student and committed libertarian named Cody Wilson. Hand-wringing and debate ensued. Depending on whom you asked, the 3D-printed gun was a deadly threat or an important Second Amendment advance—but, whether they feared it or loved it, most commentators agreed that the Liberator was a major milestone of some kind. Now that a year has passed, it’s time to ask just how broadly the gun has transformed society.

The answer is, not much. With 3D printing being used to produce everything from car parts to living tissue, it was inevitable that the technology would be used to produce a handgun. Rather large and awkward, the Liberator hasn’t taken the firearms world by storm.

Still, people are worried that 3D printing will be used to produce undetectable plastic guns, and that criminals and terrorists will now be able to make their own firearms without anyone else knowing. Those concerns may be overblown. However, the Liberator does say a lot about the future—and maybe even the present—of technology.

Read the rest of the article at Popular Mechanics


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