The world’s first 3D printed gun has been test fired in the United States, triggering a flurry of criticism and health and safety warnings. The gun, dubbed the Liberator, was designed by Defense Distributed, a Texas-based firm headed by 25-year-old law student Cody Wilson.
It took the company a year to design and create the gun, which was assembled from several 3D printed components. All of the gun’s parts were made of ABS plastic, except for the firing pin, which was an ordinary metal nail. The gun uses a very small, yet deadly .380 caliber bullet and can be fired several times before the barrel degrades. That is not such a big problem, as the barrel is easily replaceable.
The Liberator was fired repeatedly, without any injury to its handler, as seen in the video released by Defense Distributed. However, gun experts insist that firing a 3D printed gun can be very dangerous and can kill the user, since the plastics it’s made of cannot withstand the ballistic pressure of repeated uses.
Anti-gun campaigners have criticized the project too, warning that this technology can have deadly consequences if it falls into the wrong hands. And even if 3D printed guns are not yet as reliable as ordinary weapons, that is bound to change with future advancements in 3D printing technology. This means criminals will become more interested in such guns, as a cost effective and easier to obtain alternative to traditional weaponry, critics said.
Officials from states such as California, DC and New York have already suggested that they may ban 3D printed guns. But Defense Distributed rejected the criticism and has uploaded the blueprints for the Liberator online. And the plans have already been downloaded about 100,000 times, in only a couple of days.
Wilson maintains that the decision to make the blueprints available was about personal liberty. He envisages a future in which the people will have free access to blueprints for everything, a world in which technology can give people whatever they want, free of political interference. While he admits that his 3D printed gun design could be used to harm people, Wilson insists that this is what a gun does and that this does not justify withholding it from the public.
[Image via forbes]