The global gun control debate has progressed one step further with the ideation of 3D printed guns.
For what is possibly the first time since the gun control debate took effect several years ago, Americans are beginning to discuss whether the printing and sale of 3D guns are legal.
Cody Wilson, a self-described crypto-anarchist, is in the middle of a hotly contested debate over whether people should be allowed the right to print guns in 3D form that would be untraceable and unregulated. In 2013, Wilson developed what is believed to be the first 3D printed gun. After posting a video of its design online, the design was downloaded nearly 100,000 times and the video itself received almost half a million views.
Shortly thereafter, when law enforcement officials discovered the video, the link was deactivated. Some years of legal proceedings followed which led to Wilson receiving a settlement last week giving him permission to release his blueprints for 3D guns for download by the public. The release of these blueprints allows anyone with access to a 3D printer the ability to create what are called “ghost guns.”
Ghost guns are technically firearms that cannot be traced and are not regulated or registered with serial numbers. The term is used by gun control advocates and law enforcement officials alike. People who create such guns believe that by making the guns themselves they can bypass all the legal regulations, registrations, and background checks. Under federal law in the United States, creating and possessing ghost guns is permitted, but a license is required to sell or distribute firearms.
The question of the potential prevalence of 3D guns has debate coming from both sides.
Cody Wilson believes his argument to create 3D printed guns is a First Amendment right. Part of the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights gives permission for most types of speech. Wilson believes his sharing of plans to make such a gun falls under this type of permission. His lawyer, Josh Blackman, said, “This is a very, very, very easy First Amendment question that I think people might be hesitant to accept because it involves guns and people don’t like guns.”
David McCullough, a firearms dealer and trainer in Birmingham, Alabama, believes 3D plastic guns could be more dangerous to the person behind it than the person in front of it. He said, “My concern is the individuals manufacturing it, such as a teenager or someone who has one of these printers and he manufactures one and he goes out and tries it, is something happens to him because the thing can actually blow up. If the barrel blows up, then so does the person’s hand.”
A temporary restraining order by a federal court in the U.S. has been placed against Wilson and the organization he created, Defense Distributed, a nonprofit defense technologies organization. While he is being restrained in more ways than one on the 3D gun printing front, Wilson has turned to bitcoin as his next venture. He cofounded Dark Wallet which is described as a “bitcoin wallet designed to make bitcoin use completely private.”