Emerging Tech

It's Not So Easy to 3D Print a Gun

The MakerBot Replicator 2X 3D desktop printer allows users to print things out, like the Liberator gun, at home.

The MakerBot Replicator 2X 3D desktop printer allows users to print things out, like the Liberator gun, at home. // Jae C. Hong/AP

I spent the day yesterday desperately trying to get my hands on a gun. Specifically, the "Liberator," the 3D-printable firearm offered by Defense Distributed. I was unsuccessful, which vis probably for the best.

The idea of download-and-print firearm plays an out-sized role in the current debate over guns — something to which I have contributed. Defense Distributed is explicit about its political aims, which tech site The Verge described as "crypto-anarchy." Two members of Congress, Rep. Steve Israel and Sen. Chuck Schumer have called for restrictions on the ability to print 3D weapons. With news that the plans for the weapon were downloaded 50,000 times yesterday, New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly indicated that it "obviously is a concern." So, as a resident of that city, it seemed like a natural experiment: How long would it take me from downloading a set of files to having a weapon in-hand?

t's been about 24 hours since Defense Distributed's long-standing goal of offering a firearm design that anyone could 3D print became a reality when it posted plans for the Liberator on its website. To celebrate the occasion, it also released this video, which you've likely already seen and don't need to watch after the first ten seconds.

Read more at The Atlantic Wire

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