Open Source Guns: The Dark Side of 3D Printing


There is no doubt that 3D printing heralds a new technological frontier. The potential for this technology to redefine industry is unprecedented. We’re already pushing the boundaries of the current generation of 3D printing by producing bionic organs. There are also companies experimenting with food, textiles and human stem cells. Our imagination and ingenuity will progress with the technology and open up new avenues in manufacturing.

Then there’s Cody R Wilson.

Of course, every technology can be bastardized and has the potential to used with malicious intent. But this isn’t what Cody is trying to do. He wants to be “intentionally disruptive” as if he is trying to prove some point. He tries to appear erudite by spouting out verbiage about that makes next to no sense. The same goes for his disciple who comes across as some bullied kid that Cody took under his wing. In essence, they both sound like teenagers fascinated with rebellious ideas that have a lot of growing up to do.

The distressing part is that he is putting this information online for others to freely use and collaborate on. If you follow the news, then you know that gun control is a hot topic within the USA. Cody and his friend argue that the gun is merely a tool and should not be banned because of the intent of a few misdirected individuals. Well, how does posting the recipe for 3D guns help this cause then? 3D printers are quickly becoming affordable, and it won’t be long before someone who wants to intentionally cause harm will invest in it and build an arsenal at home.

Currently, there is no law in place to block the dissemination of such information. In fact, officials report that it might be impossible to regulate 3D printed weapons. I don’t believe in the restriction of information, but in a country already beset with gun violence is it a good idea to make weapons open source property? What happens when it reaches the shores of countries that have outright banned firearms?

I suspect that Cody Wilson’s crusade will prove to be the canary in the coalmine. No government in the world wants people making their own weapons in their garage. This is not a 2nd Amendment issue, nor is it an infringement of some God given right dictated by the founding fathers. Both points are used by the gun lobby to appeal to the emotions of their followers. Other countries around the world function just fine without guns in public hands. With the advent and mainstreaming of 3D printing, I hope that this is not a lesson that America learns too late.

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