A little while ago I was extolling the many potential virtues of 3D printing and opining that a few of the applications could be somewhat dubious.
Ne’er-do-wells printing themselves off a Bowie knife or a nuclear warhead for example. I was quite glib in my choice of examples.
Unsurprisingly – because, let’s face it, you don’t have to be Nostradamus to predict this kind of thing – somebody has now printed off a working handgun. And not just printed it off and fired it to prove that it can shoot bullets but has also uploaded the blueprints so that anybody – anybody at all – can print off their own gun. And fire it.
This somebody is from Texas. Which is so fitting it is beyond me to make a joke about it. Candy from babies and all that.
Various anti-gun groups are already up in arms about it (OK, that I will make a joke out of) and have expressed concern about such guns and blueprints falling into the hands of people too mentally imbalanced to safely be allowed to own a firearm (basically anybody who wants to own a firearm).
And I quite agree even as I sigh and shake my head at the ridiculousness of it all. Because although I warned off this type of thing happening I am very aware that a cheap version of one of these 3D printers costs over £5k to buy. I’m pretty sure you can buy a black market Colt .45 / Magnum / Star Trek phaser for less than a quarter of that these days – basically a metallic weapon that isn’t made of plastic and won’t melt in a house fire that you can buy quite cheaply off a bloke in the pub for less than a fortnight at Butlins.
So what’s the problem?
For me it is just the fundamental waste of designing a printable handgun. The world was hardly crying out for yet another handgun, now was it? Not being able to print one off was hardly an inconvenience of global proportions. We need less access to guns not more.
What we need more of are things that could improve health and life conditions for the majority of people on this planet. Printable medical equipment. Printable water purification devices. Printable artificial human limbs. Just three examples off the top of my head. I’m sure there are many, many more.
A plastic handgun that kills living things surely doesn’t appear on any sane person’s wish-list.
Nice try Mr Texas.
But next time try printing off the obituary pages of the local newspaper in Newtown, Connecticut and thinking a little harder.