Home Intelligence Community Take Aim: Should Police be Concerned about 3D-Printed Guns?

Take Aim: Should Police be Concerned about 3D-Printed Guns?

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By Leischen Stelter

This whole 3D-printing evolution is new to me, but apparently it’s not very new at all. According to this article, the technology has been available for a long time. What’s new, actually, is that it’s just now becoming affordable to the consumer market. Just last week, I was on a five-hour flight and found myself browsing through Sky Mall magazine where I ran across an ad for a 3D printer (only $1,299!). I remember thinking to myself: “What in the world would I need a 3D printer for? I mean, it’s cool and everything, but would I actually use it?”

Well, apparently I lack imagination because a lot of people are saying yes to this technology (to the tune of $1.7 billion). These 3D printers can open the door for the average person to start creating and manufacturing products on their own, without any middlemen.

While 3D printing holds so much potential for entrepreneurs and small businesses, there are certainly concerns about putting this power into the hands of people.

Case in point: Creating 3D-printed guns. Yesterday, the first fully 3D-printed gun was test fired in Texas, as reported by Forbes Magazine.  The weapon is made up of 16 pieces, 15 of which have been printed by a 3D printer, thus it is almost entirely plastic. This brings up the first concern for law enforcement and security professionals: Standard screening equipment senses metal. While many of the new screening devices in airports look for any object on a person’s body, the majority are still metal detectors.

The creators of this weapon aim to make the blueprints available to anyone. That means, anyone with a 3D printer can theoretically “print” one of these guns.

What consequences could this technology have in terms of firearm regulation? Are there other issues law enforcement agencies should be concerned about? Discuss.

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