Publicly accessible 3D printing is one of the major disruptive technologies that is on the verge of widespread consumer adoption. Theoretically, it democratizes the entire manufacturing process, putting incredible power in the hands of individuals without a wealth of capitalization. This means product cycles become shorter, less expensive, and a legion of entrepreneurs will have ready access to high-end prototyping to acquire capitalization and go to market. Good for business, employment, and the economy. Sounds great, right? Well, there’s a bit of a darker side to all this: the fact that you and I can download a model of an AR15 and print out pretty much everything except the firing pin and bullets.
In Canada, getting your restricted firearms permit is (understandably) difficult. You need to pass two types of training, survive both criminal and psychological background checks, have the RCMP interview multiple references and (if you have a spouse or ex, their approval, too), petition/interview with a gun club for membership, and likely go through another round of testing plus an “pledge” phase that can last up to 6 months before you could ever hope to own a handgun or semi-automatic rifle (after a waiting period) Beyond that, your home can be audited *anytime* by police and/or RCMP to ensure proper storage (2 difference safes – one for firearms with additional trigger locks, one for ammo kept in a separate room). The whole process can take up to 1.5 years. This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of safety-based regulations for Canadian residents who go through the legal process.
Or, you could just print your firearms, completely untraceably and with no accountability.
Cody Wilson is the project leader of Defense Distributed (DD) and has a vision of a world. He wants to be able to “go on the offensive” and work around existing/emerging laws to ensure that every citizen of every nation has access to firearms. The stated goals of the http://printablegun.com project are:
- develop a fully printable firearm
- adapt the design down to cheaper 3D printers
- become the web’s printable gun wiki redoubt
The impact is that the “project might change the way we think about gun control and consumption. How do governments behave if they must one day operate on the assumption that any and every citizen has near instant access to a firearm through the Internet? Let’s find out.”
Many countries, including G8 nations like Japan and England, have police forces that are deliberately unarmed and completely not prepared for handguns or assault weapons hitting their streets – most especially, the untraceable type. The challenge magnifies in other, less stable countries. When I asked about Mr. Wilson’s position re: the prospective impact to the social contract of other nations, he quickly rejected the entire premise of a social contract as an artificial construction.
With DEFCAD, DD’s repository, enjoying the ad revenue from 400,000 downloads since December (50,000 in the past 2 weeks) and active plans to replicate the data of firearm CAD files cross international boundaries (to avoid geofencing), the genie is now fully out of the bottle. We are in the first stages of a world whereby untraceable weapons can be downloaded by all.
First published in TechVibes, Photo: Kolody Inc