3D Printers Set to Herald the Age of DIY Weapons

Mike O'Brien

The realm of 3D printing technology has entered a new dimension with the release of a video on Sunday showing the world's first 3D printed gun firing its first shot.

Titled Liberator - Dawn of the Wiki Weapons, the footage shows Cody Wilson, of Defense Distributed, the company behind the gun, assembling it and firing it outdoors.

It has ignited a huge debate about DIY guns because of the potential dangers. While DIY weapons could easily fall into the wrong hands, it is perfectly legal for a person to manufacture a firearm for their own use in the U.S.

Mr. Wilson told the BBC: "I recognise the tool might be used to harm other people - that's what the tool is - it's a gun. But I don't think that's a reason to not do it - or a reason not to put it out there."

According to Defense Distributed’s website, the company’s goals are as follows:

"To defend the civil liberty of popular access to arms as guaranteed by the United States Constitution and affirmed by the United States Supreme Court, through facilitating global access to, and the collaborative production of, information and knowledge related to the 3D printing of arms; and to publish and distribute, at no cost to the public, such information and knowledge in promotion of the public interest."

The video, which after just two days on Youtube had be seen nearly 1,300,000 times, comes after months of research for the Texas-based company.

It began produinge weapon accessories using 3D printing technology, starting with ‘printed magazines’ for AK47 made of from ABS, a thermoplastic material processed shaped by 3D printers. The magazines are valued at $47. A more complex system – the lower receiver for the AR15 is available for $150.

Now it would appear the growth of 3D printing will be both rapid and widespread, with analysts already mulling the benefits it could bring in areas such as healthcare.

The manufacture and use of weapons, however, is another story. Senator Charles Schumer on Sunday called for the banning of 3D weapons because they are made of materials which do not show up in metal detectors. The only metal part in Mr. Wilson’s gun is the firing pin, which is too small to be detected by metal detectors, Defense-update.com reports.

Mr. Schumer also called for the updating of the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 — which bans guns that can defeat airport security metal detectors — to include printable gun magazines.

In the meantime, Mr. Wilson is concerned any negative publicity will jeopardize his Wike Weapons project.

In a blog post he wrote: "This 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."

Watch the video below.