If you haven’t heard about 3D printing, you will. It’s an amazing technology, but it’s starting to scare people, particularly those concerned with gun control:
Thingiverse is an online community for 3D printers to share ideas and blueprints of various objects people can create at home. It’s a neat place to learn more about getting creative with your 3D printer… that is until Thingiverse user HaveBlue declared that he has completed a project that could print a working semi-automatic rifle capable of firing at least 200 rounds without fail.
According to Popular Science, HaveBlue 3D-printed a 0.22 caliber pistol which he adapted from an AR-15 rifle model. The item only cost him $30 worth of ABS plastic to complete. Though the prototype works, HaveBlue states that more modifications are still necessary thanks to existing feed and extraction issues. But the fact that anyone could download the blueprint and attempt to create their own weapon at home makes us more than a little nervous.
Eventually, we’ll have 3D printers that will use organic tissue to build hearts and arms and kidneys and all sorts of good things. People will undoubtedly take the technology for granted, drink until their liver is one big piece of scar tissue, and then have their doctor print a new one using adult stem cells. Regardless, right now we get hammers and nails and fully functioning firearms.
What’s it mean, besides the fact that guys like me will soon be printing out an armory of weapons just for the heck of it? Well, it means that there will be a lot of people overreacting. They’ll try and keep the technology out of our hands because certain segments of the population will misuse it — and that’s sad because humans have been misusing technology since its inception. The most important thing to do as we move forward will to craft laws that respect and safeguard freedom and liberty for future generations, and then hold people accountable who break those laws.
With 3D printing technology, some people will build cars and the auto industry will not be happy. Some people will make clothes. Star Wars nerds will make armies of action figure storm troopers. (Finally.) On a long enough timeline, others will make clones of themselves in their basement — and I won’t even attempt to ruminate on the weird things law enforcement agencies will run across.
I say all of this because critics of 3D printing technology who focus on handguns are incredibly myopic. Their imagination is almost non-existent because the capacity for this technology to do amazing — and horrible — things far exceeds the 2nd Amendment.
As the future begins to get bizarre, I can only hope that as a society we spend less time crafting laws to moderate behavior, and more time teaching people to be upstanding citizens.
Question: In a world where you can print out a new body for yourself on demand, how useful are biological, chemical and nuclear weapons? When genetic engineering becomes so advanced as to relegate physical death to a choice (or an extremely unfortunate accident), will we finally be able to stop acting like kids and turn our attention to outer space — the final frontier? I hope so.