Questions Mount Over 3D-Printed Guns
The gun debate continues, one day after a federal judge blocked the release of online AR-15 blueprints for 3D printers.
The gun debate continues, one day after a federal judge blocked the release of online AR-15 blueprints for 3D printers. The move comes after Texas-based company, Defense Distributed reached a deal with the federal government to release the data online. Judge Robert Lasnik's ruling temporarily blocks that deal. Thousands have already downloaded the designs.
"Yes, of course some folks have downloaded it," Bob Ferguson, Washington Attorney General said. "That does not make it safer to allow thousands more, hundreds of thousands more, millions more to download those guns in the future."
Many say the blueprints would give criminals and terrorists the ability to mass-produce high-powered rifles. The guns would be untraceable because they do not have serial numbers, they could be undetectable and they don't require background checks.
Christopher Parker is a managing member of Big Shot Indoor Range. He says he does not expect 3D-printed guns to have much of an impact on the population and gun sales.
"I expect no impact, honestly, as a retailer," Parker said. "So few people will actually go about making their firearms at home that we won't notice it."
3D printers range in price. Cheap ones go for a few hundred dollars, while others cost tens of thousands of dollars. Some experts say the high-end models are needed to build quality plastic guns.
Parker says one reason he does not expect many people to build 3D-printed guns is because it is already legal to build firearms the traditional way.
"With a YouTube video and some tools from Home Depot, you can already make your own firearm at home," Parker said. "It's legal, it's inexpensive but people don't do it. They would rather come to a professional like us for their firearm needs."
The ATF has conducted test on 3D-printed guns. Since they are made of plastic, some of them do not hold up as well as others. Parker says the questions of durability will prevent some people from using plastic guns.
"It's made of plastic, so you're going to fire it a few times and it's going to break," Parker said. "You're talking about internal working components that have to be made out of metal for it to have any sort of durability."
Parker says his only concern is the possibility of plastic guns passing through secure areas, like airports, without detection. Federal law prohibits guns that cannot be spotted in metal detectors or x-ray machines.
Some say online blueprints open the door for criminals to build their own 3D-printed guns. Especially, if they are not legally allowed to own one. Parker there are easier ways for criminals to get guns.
"Printing technology in itself is new and cutting edge," Parker said. "I'm not concerned about people printing a bunch of guns at home and committing a bunch of crimes from it. It's much easier for a criminal to steal a gun than it is to buy a 3D printer, get proficient on using it and then printing a gun."