Is it the weapon-equivalent of Napster, the music industry’s greatest regulatory paradigm-buster?
This week Cody Wilson, a 25-year-old law student at the University of Texas, successfully test-fired a gun “printed” from an $8,000 3-D printer, in theory heralding an era, where individuals may be able to obtain guns in the comfort of their living rooms and escape onerous regulatory requirements.
Mr. Wilson, a self-described “crypto-anarchist,” told BBC news channel that his plans to make the design available were “about liberty,” and that there was a undeniable demand of guns despite there being “states all over the world that say you can't own firearms.”
Watched by media in Austin, Texas, Mr. Wilson fired off a few rounds from a gun assembled from separate printed components made almost entirely from a special plastic used by the printer – only the firing pin was said to be made from a metal nail. Typically the printer builds up layer after layer of plastic to create complex solid objects.
Although Mr. Wilson’s company, Defence Distributed, has been working on the project to publish online gun blueprints for 3D printing since last year, his demonstration raised eyebrows as it comes in the wake of a series of violent shootings in the U.S. and a vociferous debate on gun control that it subsequently led to in Washington.
Even Mr. Wilson and his associates appeared to acknowledge potential grey areas in the legality of their proposed boost to “gun printing,” particularly in terms of such homemade weapons contravening the U.S.’ 1988 Undetectable Firearms Act, which essentially bans the production of plastic guns capable of passing through metal detectors without being spotted.