3-D Guns: A Threat to Security or to the Traveling Public?
As technology has evolved, so has the home printer. Specifically, 3-D printers commonly used to print product prototypes. A basic web search for 3-D guns provides savvy would-be-criminals access to sources from which they can anonymously download and print a gun from the comforts of their home.
The gun I am referring to is the Liberator, the newest craze for gun enthusiasts. This handgun, produced with plastic materials and a 3-D printer, made its debut in 2011 but did not become classified as an official weapon until 2013, after the first shot from the gun was fired.
As an avid traveler, I wondered, “can 3-D guns be detected by airport screeners”; and with a quick search, I found my answer. According to a recent FORBES article, entitled “The Liberator 3-D Printed Gun Successfully Smuggled through International Transport Security”, these guns pose a challenge to bus and train screeners but not necessarily to airport screeners. The exterior of the gun is plastic, which is almost undetectable, but the firing pin (a metal nail) is as easy to detect as a regular gun.
As the debate continues over whether a plastic gun poses real harm to American citizens traveling on our roads and airways, the owner of Defense Distributed, Cody Wilson, has no plans to stop production of his 3-D guns.
Unfortunately, for Mr. Wilson, the Department of State has recently issued a domestic ban on distributing digital blueprints. As a result, private citizen gun distributors have discontinued the sale and public dissemination of 3-D gun blue prints. Through their Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance, the State Department has ordered Mr. Wilson to remove the 3-D gun blue prints from his company website and discontinue electronic distribution of the blueprints.
A new bulletin from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warns that lethal, undetectable 3D-printed firearms may be “impossible” to contain”, once something is distributed via the work wide web, it will likely resides in cyber space forever.
Although it is unclear the true threat of a 3-D gun, its potential threat will not deter me from traveling.