12/03/2013

Despite the hoopla, 3D printed plastic guns are at least as much of a risk to the shooter

Senator Schumer sure makes the danger of 3D printed guns look immediate and ominous. From the Huffington Post: 
"We are looking at a world in which anyone with a little bit of cash can bring an undetectable gun that can fire multiple bullets anywhere — including planes, government buildings, sporting events and schools," Schumer said. "3-D printers are a miraculous technology that have the potential to revolutionize manufacturing, but we need to make sure they are not being used to make deadly, undetectable weapons." . . .
 Others such as Eric Holder have made a big deal about these printers.  From Fox News:
“This is an extremely serious problem,” Holder said in a statement. “This is a very worrisome threat to law enforcement and to people who fly every day. We can’t have guns legally in circulation that are not detectable by metal detectors.” . . .
Of course, 3D plastic guns aren't really completely undetectable, though it does make the problem more difficult.  From the Huffington Post:
Currently, X-ray machines used in many federal facilities can detect 3D weapons, unless they are broken down into component parts, in which case it may be up to security officials to recognize the individual components of the weapon. "Not every place you go to is like the airport," Griffith said. "A lot of places, [like] courthouses, all they have are metal detectors." . . .
Computer World has this about how dangerous the plastic gun is to those who use them.
Last week, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) published videos demonstrating how some plastic models of the Liberator were able to fire up to eight rounds, while others exploded on the first round; the success of the weapon depended on the polymers and printers used. . . .
A couple of the results of the BATFE test:



From Businessweek:
A truly all-plastic firearm “would be very unreliable and very unsafe,” according to Larry Keane, senior vice president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade group representing gun manufacturers that’s allied with the National Rifle Association. . . .
Other law enforcement organizations around the world are even much less positive.  From Gizmodo:
Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione called a press conference today after the NSW [Australia] Police Force concluded its experiments with 3D printable weapons, including The Liberator. The boffins over at the NSW Police bought themselves a 3D printer for $1700 and decided to test how easy it would be to build their own gun. They downloaded the blueprints for The Liberator from the internet and printed out two weapons to test fire. 
All in all, they printed the 15 parts required to assemble The Liberator in 27 hours and assembled it within 60 seconds with a firing pin fashioned out of a steel nail. The two guns were test fired into a block of resin designed to simulate human muscle, and the first bullet penetrated the resin block up to 17 centimetres. NSW Police Ballistics division confirm that it would be a fatal wound if pointed at someone. 
What’s interesting about the second device they tested, however, was the “catastrophic failure” of the weapon. Translation? It exploded. The plastic gave way to the brutal force of an exploding .38 caliber bullet and the barrel exploded. . . .
  The law banning plastic guns is particularly useless because metal used in the gun to make it legal could be easily removed. 
Schumer said the Liberator's CAD blueprint allows for a piece of metal that can be easily removed and plays no functional role but renders the gun legal; bullets can be fired from the gun even though it is made entirely of plastic. . . .
The Undetectable Firearms Act was passed in 1988, then renewed in 1998 and again in 2003.  Here is something that I wrote about plastic guns back in 2003 and something about 3D printing earlier this year. To me the more important problem is the fact that metal guns that work identically to other manufactured guns can be made using 3D printers.

Philadelphia is posed to ban 3D printed guns that aren't made by licensed gun makers.  Other articles on the 3D plastic gun debate are here and here.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Proof said...

When they start making the undetectable plastic bullets, call me and I'll start to worry then.

12/03/2013 11:14 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Whether you make 3d plastic guns or bullets now they can be tracked ... a Tech firm unveiled detector for 3d printed guns.... so we don’t have to worry about these plastic guns ...

3/07/2014 5:04 AM  

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