Government should consider future implications of 3-D gun printing

Texans love their guns — there is hardly any disagreement about that. Many consider attending gun shows, buying tickets to Western movies and revelling in the “shoot ‘em up” scenes to be a United States tradition.

Danny Razzano | Daily Trojan

Danny Razzano | Daily Trojan

Yet, even if Texas weren’t already obsessed with guns, the latest technology coming out of the state now brings the weapons much closer to home. Solid Concepts, a Texas company, announced on Nov. 8 that they had made the first metal gun using a 3-D printer, according to CNN. The company said the pistol resembles a M1911 handgun. It was built from mostly stainless-steel parts and essentially feels and looks like an actual handgun. As a licensed firearm manufacturer, Solid Concepts said it will look into the possibility of selling replacement parts for handguns.

“The engineers who run our [3-D printing] machines are top of the line; they are experts who know what they’re doing and understand 3-D printing better than anyone in this business,” Solid Concepts spokeswoman Alyssa Parkinson told CNN.

The company also believes that only the most skilled experts will have access to this potentially deadly innovation.

In addition, the company believes the hefty price of a 3-D printer will help deter the wrong people from being able to create the gun.

“The industrial printer we used costs more than my college tuition [and I went to a private university],” Parkinson told CNN.

Unfortunately, people can purchase other 3-D printers for the rather-reasonable price of $2,199.

Despite the belief that most people won’t be able to afford the equipment to produce their own guns, the debate surrounds the failure to secure formidable prevention methods to gun violence and an unnecessary prevalence of guns in this country. Criminals could even end up creating copies of 3-D printed guns.

In the week since the company announced their new gun-making capabilities, 25-year-old Cody Wilson, who in the past had expressed his affinity toward anarchy and is a member of the nonprofit group Defense Distributed, posted instructions on how to make the gun online. If Solid Concepts’ prevention methods are so bulletproof, then it should not be easy to access building instructions.

Wilson’s posting was so detrimental that the U.S. State Department sent Defense Distributed a cease-and-desist letter. Shortly after, its website was shut down.

The 3-D-printed gun is not the first 21st-century gun to cause controversy. On Nov. 14, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms released the results from tests it conducted on another downloadable 3-D printed weapon, referred to as the Liberator. In its report, the ATF said the printed gun was both “dangerous” and was often susceptible to not working. Digital Trends reported an incident where one 3-D-printed gun exploded.

For quite some time, the gun debate in this country has focused on who can get guns and where they can purchase them. The emergence of the 3-D-printed gun brings a new element to this continuous topic: who can make guns. In weeks following the Los Angeles International Airport and the Washington Navy Yard shootings, the current political climate surrounding guns is not adequately prepared to interrupt the possible ramifications of allowing guns to be made by the common man.

Instead, the U.S. government needs to limit its focus on regulating the guns that are already in the marketplace, and not deciding how to bring more in. The 21st century, however, is inevitably replete with technological innovations such as the 3-D gun printer, and the gun debate is only bound to get more heated.


Jordyn Holman is a sophomore majoring in print and digital journalism.

Follow Jordyn on Twitter @jojoholmey

Editors Note: The headline of the article was changed from “3-D printing of guns will harm society greatly” to “Government should consider future implications of 3-D gun printing” to better reflect the content of the article. 

19 replies
  1. RJ Miller
    RJ Miller says:

    Okay, let me get this straight…

    Despite advances in backscatter X-ray, millimeter-wave scanners, and thermoconductive imaging, people still think that plastic is undetectable?

    Yeah sure, and the same people who are willing to kill will follow a law that says not to make an accessory for the crime, and somehow it’s better than more money goes to the big bad evil gun industry than to 3D printing.

    Stop HR 1474 and S 1149.

  2. ras
    ras says:

    Bottom line – we can ban everything from guns to rocks – as long as we have people intent on hurting other people the laws make very little difference. There are thousands of assaults per year with baseball bats – why are we not banning baseball? Crappy parents crapping out kids that they do not parent – that is what we need to ban if we really are serious about crime. Otherwise the prisons will always have a fresh population to fill their cells.

  3. Gotcha
    Gotcha says:

    “In the week since the company announced their new gun-making capabilities, 25-year-old Cody Wilson, who in the past had expressed his affinity toward ANARCHY…”

    Stop. Where did Cody Wilson express an affinity for “anarchy”? Journalist Brian Doherty of Reason described Wilson as “more than just a gun guy”, adding that Wilson may be “right about how it has to end: the people will have the power.” No anarchy here: just a man trying to fire a figurative warning shot across the bows of a government that has exceeded its constitutional bounds.

  4. squashpup
    squashpup says:

    Flawed Premise: You can only “make” your own gun with 3-D printers.

    Fact: People have been “making” their own guns for years using a variety of methods, without an expensive 3-D printer. Some of these can be made at your kitchen table using only a Dremel and a few basic hand tools

  5. Sotarr the Wizard
    Sotarr the Wizard says:

    Well, Jordyn, you don’t need a 3-d printer to make a functional weapon. Some time back, 10 or so acquaintances and I got together in one of the guy’s garages, and we all built AK-47s. And they are not registered in any way: the law doesn’t require it.

    Oh, and by the way, this was 15 years ago. It’s MUCH easier now: as mentioned, you can build the controlled part of an AR-15 (the “reciever”) with a home CNC Mill. . . .

  6. Dantes
    Dantes says:

    I see critical analysis of information is excluded from students majoring in digital and print journalism.

    The author should take a course in logic, if possible.

  7. JR
    JR says:

    It’s such a great opportunity when articles like this are written and allow those truly familiar with 3-D printing (as seen in the majority of the comments) to respond with truth and reason. I guess I don’t have to mention any kid in high school can walk into their shop and create a metal gun using tools for free. We certainly appreciate the publicity and are very grateful we lucked out with such a tremendous positive response. The true epiphany is the epic step forward in manufacturing using powdered metals while yielding results capable of withstanding rigorous testing while maintaining accuracy. Before this gun was printed, only our most secret of customers understood the value in prototyping with metal laser sintering/melting. Now the average person can fully appreciate it. Thanks again from Solid Concepts! (Solid Concepts Marketing Dept.)

  8. JCM1776
    JCM1776 says:

    The article conflates the DLMS (Direct Laser Metal Sintering, aka 3-D metal printing) and the plastic polymer 3-D printing.

    DLMS machines start around half a million dollars.

    It’s always has been legal for an individual to use a milling machine or CNC machine and build their own firearm out of metal. Plans for the 1911 and AR-15 are public domain and readily available. As long as the firearm is not transfered such “homebuilts” are legal.

    The rules are the same for polymer 3-D firearms.

    The question about who can make guns is settled.

    Anyone who wants to.

  9. Sam
    Sam says:

    Its pretty obvious that the author of this article did basically no research to support his opinion prior to writing posting it on the internet (not generally recommended). Making a basic gun, more complex and useful than this printed gun even, is ridiculously simple. It requires, at its simplest, a tube (preferably metal), some sort of spring tension, and a pointed piece of metal to act as a firing pin. That’s literally it. You can do it with duct tape…seriously. Google it. With a halfway decent machine shop you can make full out machine guns in basically no time flat. Its always been this way. It astounds me to think that people honestly believe that manufacturing basically anything out of scratch is impossible. It just goes to show how comfortable (that is, useless) most people have become. No one has any sort of tangible skills anymore.

  10. Texas TopCat
    Texas TopCat says:

    You can go to Harbor Freight and for less that $1000 buy all of the tools necessary to build such a gun using standard machines, like lathe, drill press, and milling machine. Maybe the skill level is a bit more, but there was hand fitting required in this last gun also. So, what is this author attempting to say?

  11. Texas TopCat
    Texas TopCat says:

    “essentially feels and looks like an actual handgun” WOW, do you think that it feels and looks like an actual handgun because it is an actual handgun.

  12. Kim Bertle
    Kim Bertle says:

    Search Google for: “zip gun” instructions.

    Be afraid. Be very… wait, people have been making zip guns since like… forever?


  13. Mickey Meador
    Mickey Meador says:

    This article implies there is something evil, criminal, moral or just cheating the system for a company or individual making a gun. Far from the truth. Guns can be made by anyone for their own personal use. And private enterprise is correct in using any method to manufacture them. Government has no authority to regulate that.

  14. Mickey Meador
    Mickey Meador says:

    Libtards are COWARDS! They don’t have the guts to directly persecute the law abiding citizen who is standing up with his God given intelligence to defend himself. Instead they put the blame on an inanimate tool: guns. If guns didn’t exist there will always be evil on earth and evil will always find out how to use a tool to commit crimes against innocent victims. Solution: root out and remove evil humans from society regardless of race, nationality, sexual preference, political support. That means PROFILING! Profiling CRIMINALS. Stop and frisk gang members. No early release of habitual criminals. No country club type prisons. Hard labor prisons. Execution of heinous crime committers. Seal our Mexico border as tight as Mexico’s Southern border is. These illegals are the least desirable of any aliens we need to allow to enter the U.S.

  15. Simon Posford
    Simon Posford says:

    This author is apparently ignorant of the fact that anyone with a decent machine shop has had the ability to build guns for ages. Where do you think guns came from? The aether?

    Search for AR-15 blueprint, for example.

  16. Klaus Schadenfreude
    Klaus Schadenfreude says:

    Is there another page to this article?

    I ask because I was waiting for the explanation of how 3D gun printing was going “greatly” to harm the nation, and I didn’t see it.

  17. Zack
    Zack says:

    … and could not speak out against the crown. Then they tried taking away our militia’s guns… look where that led. To suspend anyone’s rights is unacceptable and for our government to so brazenly do so should have ALL American’s up in arms and utterly outraged at this. I agree with many others when they say that our rights are not up for negotiations, this includes the whole of our rights which are not entirely enumerated, and likely never will be. We need to punish the actor’s of crimes, not innocent people because they have one obscure thing in common with a criminal. The Aurora shooter was a redhead, all redheads should be arrested before they commit a mass shooting. Gacy was a professional clown, all clowns need to be locked up before they turn into serial killers. OJ played football, lock up anyone who plays football before they get in a high speed chase and get acquitted for a double murder they probably committed. The Virginia Tech shooter was Asian and a college student, HURRY! How is it so few on the left – who aren’t even necessarily progressives – see the absolute absurdity of this!? It is insane! It will, literally, give the authorities the permission to profile, search, and indefinitely detain anyone they THINK could commit a crime.

  18. Zack
    Zack says:

    So,the author believes that not only should Americans not be able to exercise their Second Amendment rights – “unnecessary prevalence of guns in this country” – but that all First Amendment rights concerning pro-freedom activities with guns should be banned as well? Perhaps all property rights should be laid by the wayside as well? Maybe the author would like it if the police could search anyone, anywhere, for any reason, at any moment as well? Of course, the progressives will say all of this is hyperbole or arguments with no basis, but deep down they know – along with everyone else – that losing rights is a slippery slope when it comes to governmental control. Germany – Hitler disarmed the Jews and then made them submit to searches and then killed them by the thousands. America – we had to submit to taxes, warrantless searches and

Comments are closed.