September 21, 2012
The right to bear arms is undeniably explicit in the constitution, but what about the right to produce your own arms?
That question will inevitably come about following the somewhat recent innovation of 3D printing, and a group’s announcement it wants to distribute plans allowing you to create firearms in your own home.
3D printing is exactly what it sounds like. You can literally “print” physical 3D objects by scanning whatever you want replicated. A 3D printer can work like a copier, but it can also interpret 3D CAD data files to create just about anything.
Earlier this week, an online fund-raising campaign created by University of Texas law student Cody Wilson and a group of friends reached its goal of collecting $20,000 to fund an operation known as the Wiki Weapon Project.
Wilson described the project in a video posted to You Tube in July, stating, “So consider this, a CAD file containing the information for a 3D printable weapon system. If that file was seeded by 30 people, let’s say, as long as there’s a free Internet, that file is available to anyone at any time, all over the world. A gun can be anywhere. Any bullet is now a weapon.”
Under the name Defense Distributed, the group set up an Indiegogo account to accept contributions, however it was shut down for supposedly violating the site’s terms of service. Forbes detailed the manner in which Indiegogo terminated the account:
About a month after the Wiki Weapon project’s launch, Indiegogo sent Defense Distributed an email saying its funds had been frozen due to “unusual account activity,” and followed up with an explanation that it had violated Indiegogo’s terms of service, which don’t allow the sale of “ammunition, firearms, or certain firearm parts or accessories.”
Although Wilson says they weren’t selling any of those items, they didn’t allow the setback to derail their efforts. They opened another donation account on their personal website and have since raised the money needed to rent a 3D printer and further advance their vision. According to Forbes, they’ll also hold a gun design contest to review different firearm designs.
Even though some of their donations came from gun enthusiasts and constitution-upholding patriots, Wilson says the group isn’t just doing it to arm the masses: “It’s more the liberation of information. It’s about living in a world where you just download the file for the thing you want to make in this life.”
Printers, like the RepRap, will have the capability of producing their own replacement parts, thus creating self-sustaining units and opening the door for mass production of endless 3D printers.
The group is sure to face other hurdles in their pursuit of information distribution.
Undeniably, an armed population would lead to safer homes and businesses, effectively reducing police roles to little more than parking and traffic ticket distributors. The project’s success would also murder profits for firearms manufacturers, and might be seen as unfair competition.
Wilson, however, maintains an optimistic view of the precedent their ideas could set: “As the printing press kind of revolutionized literacy, 3D printing is in its moment.”
Below is the video Defense Distributed released in July: