A company is using 3D printing to shoot holes in the idea of restricting the sale and use of guns in America. Last weekend Defense Distributed pointed out the uselessness of gun control measures, like those the Obama administration rolled out yesterday, by printing out a high capacity magazine with a 3D printer. Back in November this same group printed an assault rifle with a 3D printer that successfully fired six rounds before breaking down.
The timing of this all is intentional, of course. Yesterday President Obama signed executive orders beefing up current gun control measures and announced plans to introduce legislation banning assault weapons and the sale of high capacity magazines. But because of the structure of the Senate, in which rural and western states have more power proportionally than their urban eastern counterparts, legislation like the assault weapon ban is unlikely to pass.
A ban on high capacity magazines, on the other hand, stands a chance. Representatives, even Senators from gun-toting states like Alaska and Texas, will probably want to do something to appear sympathetic to the widespread outrage in the wake of the Newtown and other massacres. This might be an achievable middle route.
But there’s a fly in the ointment: progress. 3D printing, as we’ve written before, is eventually going to make gun control obsolete. The printing of a high capacity magazine this weekend was a warning shot, a sign of things to come. As the price of 3D printers comes down and the printers become more effective, more hobbyists will be able to access the weapon blueprints that groups like Defense Distributed host online and print their own guns, magazines, and ammunition at home, circumventing any and all controls.