The world’s first gun made with 3D printer technology has been successfully fired in the US. The controversial group which created the firearm, Defense Distributed, plans to make the blueprints available online. The group has spent a year trying to create the firearm, which was successfully tested on Saturday at a firing range south of Austin, Texas.
‘More user friendly’
Anti-gun campaigners have criticised the project. Europe’s law enforcement agency said it was monitoring developments. Victoria Baines, from Europol’s cybercrime centre, said that at present criminals were more likely to pursue traditional routes to obtain firearms.
She added, however: “But as time goes on and as this technology becomes more user friendly and more cost effective, it is possible that some of these risks will emerge.”
Defense Distributed is headed by Cody Wilson, a 25-year-old law student at the University of Texas.
‘Used to harm people’
3D printing has been hailed as the future of manufacturing. The technology works by building up layer upon layer of material – typically plastic – to build complex solid objects. The idea is that as the printers become cheaper, instead of buying goods from shops, consumers will instead be able to download designs and print out the items at home. But as with all new technologies, there are risks as well as benefits.
The gun was made on a 3D printer that cost $8,000 (£5,140) from the online auction site eBay. It was assembled from separate printed components made from ABS plastic – only the firing pin was made from metal.
Asked if he felt any sense of responsibility about whose hands the gun might fall into, 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.”
Is this 3D printable handgun a good thing or a bad thing? Why do you say so?
Source: Rebecca Morelle, BBC News