The controversy surrounding using 3D printers to create weapons just got a lot more intense with the introduction of the Liberator, a gun constructed almost completely from a downloaded file and a 3D printer.
Created by University of Texas law student Cody Wilson, the Liberator was reportedly made with ABS plastic using a Dimension SST 3D printer from Stratasys. Other than the 16 plastic-fabricated parts, the only other parts are the firing pin, and a useless hunk of metal inserted to comply with the Undetectable Firearms Act. However, that guideline is set to expire in December.
In response to the production of the Liberator, New York Congressman Steve Israel released a statement on Friday calling for a renewal of the Undetectable Firearms Act, saying:
"Security checkpoints, background checks, and gun regulations will do little good if criminals can print plastic firearms at home and bring those firearms through metal detectors with no one the wiser… Now that this technology appears to be upon us, we need to act now to extend the ban on plastic firearms."
Of course, if new rules do manage to prevent the 3D printing of guns, it's worth considering how far legislators will extend their reach to prevent the printing of other, non-lethal items that may cause special interest groups to raise an alarm. In short, when everyone has a replicator, how long before new laws are created to tightly control what is currently an open platform to invent the future? We'll probably find out soon.
In the meantime, you can see the Liberator 3D-printed gun in action in the video below.