3D printers used as dangerous ammunition

By Abby Allen
Managing Editor

The issue over gun control in the United States has been a bloody dispute over the recent years, especially with the school shootings that have terrorized the country within recent years, including this year’s shootings in Parkland, Florida, and Noblesville.

Gun control has been a debate for years, and now those who wish to acquire guns have found a new technologically advanced loophole: simply creating their own guns at home by using the all-accessible and cheap 3D printer plans for plastic guns. This loophole is dangerous in more ways that one, because the printed guns are plastic that can bypass metal detectors; and by creating these guns, and sneaking under the government’s radar, anyone can own a gun, even if they aren’t licensed to carry.

These do-it-yourself “ghost-guns” are anything but a smart idea. These guns shoot and kill just like any other gun. According to the Miami Herald, “Guns made with 3D printers are just as lethal, but aren’t traceable, don’t require background checks and won’t be detected by metal detectors,” because the government has no tags of security or registration on the gun. These guns just float around in circulation without any serialization or detection of the gun or their users. These guns can be sold from criminal to criminal and handed off from person to person on the black market, which endangers many people on account of the fact that the government has no idea a printed gun in Missouri exists, and cannot know who owns it, because it was made at home.

Not only are these guns not filtered through the government’s system of security with background checks and serialization, but 3D printed guns are not detectable by metal detectors. Since there is no metal content in the plastic gun, the metal detector usually used to snuff out illegal cargo has no clue what is passing through. Not that this has gone unnoticed by our government: According to the Miami Herald, “In 2013, Congress extended a ban on the sale, manufacturing or possession of guns made entirely of plastic by requiring that all firearms have at least 3.7 ounces of steel so they can be caught by a metal detector….Congress didn’t determine which parts of the gun had to be metal, meaning someone could attach a removable piece of metal to a fully plastic gun, making it easy to avoid detection.” While it is good that the government is cracking down and trying to erect laws for this, they need to be more effective. This loophole was easy to make. These guns are dangerous, just like any other normal steel guns, except they can be brought places those guns can’t, and can be used to break the laws and take lives without the government knowing.

It’s dangerous for anyone to have the online plans for creating these weapons because websites spread information quickly by copying and selling the plans on their site and soon there would be too many sites to shut down anyway. If these plans are online, anyone can get them and they could fall into the wrong hands. That’s why someone has to have a background check in order to legally own a gun, and while many people buy and sell guns illegally, these particular guns are accessible to anyone, and can be used to harm people in the same way.

Some argue that plastic guns are too expensive and too flimsy to be practical anyway. Arstechnica.com covered a gentleman who tested this theory, and the theory that guns can even be 3D printed in the first place, and in part, these arguments are proven true.

“…While it is possible, for now, 3D-printing plastic guns is generally not very practical…it costs $3,064 to make an AR-15 this way,” according to Arstechnica.com.

However, the gun was still made in nine hours, which is worth it if someone wanted that gun for an immoral reason. Even though the material of the gun isn’t the sturdiest, it’s a place to start. New materials can be invented that won’t melt when heated, especially in gunfire. Technology advances every day. These guns and blueprints are the start of a criminal ring of black market weapon trade.

The longer these files are accessible to anyone and everyone, the more people can improve on the makeup of the weapon and create even more dangerous ghost guns.

These undetectable “ghost-guns” are moving from hand to hand under the U.S.’s radar as this article is written.

3D printing a fidget spinner or a replacement game pawn is one thing, but printing a weapon to bypass the government’s attempts at safety for all citizens is a disgusting misuse of new technologies that should be stopped immediately.



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