This week saw a Tea Party supporter in America producing the first plastic gun made via a 3D printer. He seems to be under the deluded impression that this somehow promotes “liberty” (he named it the liberator), when it does very little of that.
Quite a number of these gun nut types have all sorts of paranoid fears about “the government“. They fear what would happen if the government turned tyrannical…and how do you suppose you’re going to stop an M1 Abrams battle tank with a little (and according The Register, not terribly reliable) plastic gun? At the same time they exhibiting selective blindness to the many problems America’s excessive gun ownership causes the country.
Indeed this development may have the opposite effect intended – making stricter gun regulation and regulation of the fledgling 3D printer industry more likely.
Creating a 3D gun anyone can just print off, what could possibly go wrong? I mean who would want a plastic gun other than a law abiding citizens (certainly not the types who look for Obama’s Birth certificate and certainly not anyone like that guy with the plastic gun in that movie!) enforcing their 2nd amendment rights….hmm….how about criminals in the UK where there is no 2nd amendment! Or how about terrorists trying to sneak stuff onto planes? We’ll be forced to strip off and go naked onto planes at this rate!
Indeed the blueprints have had to be taken down off the internet, in part because it might violate ITAR (a US law designed to stop weapons technology reaching Iran). Perhaps the worse case scenario for the gun nuts behind this caper, is what happens if the Palestinians (or HAMAS) start using these blueprints to make guns in Gaza. Mossad have a nasty habit of “settling things“…with extreme prejudice (and I ain’t talking the sort of prejudice UKIP get up too!) with those who threaten the lives of Israeli security personnel.
Back in the UK, while it is true that criminals, despite the strict gun laws here, can get their hands on guns. But the problem for them is getting access to guns that are untraceable. As anyone who as ever so much as glanced at a crime novel or a CSI episode will know the police can tell a lot from examining a bullet or shell casing (I would note tho that real forensics takes weeks or months of painstaking lab work not the hours shown on the TV, has a level of uncertainty/confidence (not the 100% certainty TV presents) and most CSI experts are geeky lab rats who never get out much).
Even if they can’t find the gun, the police can work out which make or model it is, trace it via forensics to other crimes, even make a stab at guessing where the gun came from, thus narrow down the list of suspects down to a handful of criminals (and forensics can then potentially shuffle that down to just one!).
Hence while a gun can be picked up on the streets of London for a few hundred quid (from what I read in the papers, I’ve never actually verified that this is true!) a gun with no history that will be difficult) for the police to trace will cost a criminal thousands. And if he’s any sense he’ll only use it once and then make sure it ends up at the bottom of the Thames. This probably explains why gun related deaths in the UK are under a hundred a year v’s the tens of thousands in the US. Using a gun in the UK is both expensive and risky for our criminals. I have this vision of conversations between London gangsters that goes “you dirty rat, I’d pump you’re guts full of lead…..if I could afford it!”
Now of course criminals, thanks to Mr Tea Party, can potentially mass produce guns without fear of them being traced. What is the likely outcome of this? Will legalisation of firearms be in the next Queen’s speech? Will the EU bring in a 2nd amendment for guns? Ah!….No! The likely outcome is they’ll bring in tighter anti-gun legislation and also begin regulating the 3D printer industry.
It would be very easy for the manufacturers of these 3D printers to insert a section of code that, say, prevents it from forming a perfect cylinder (it makes it slightly elliptical or with a kink in it) for certain diameters (the same diameters as various bullet’s caliber’s). Similar software patches prevent you from using a colour printer or programs like Adobe Photo-shop to print fake banknotes.
Alternatively you could require a register of all 3D printer users and then have the printer add some unique micro dot like feature that would be traceable to an individual printer. And with multiple governments possibly leaning on them its very likely the 3D printer manufacturers will cave in if such legislation were brought in.
Ironically, another possibility would be for governments to lean on the makers of the ammunition itself (which can’t be made on a 3D printer). And before anyone says 2nd amendment, remember that were talking about pressure coming from governments outside of the US. Plus any pressure within the US will be coming directly from law enforcement, state department and Homeland security. The major purchaser of arms and ammunition worldwide is not members of the NRA, but law enforcement and armed forces worldwide. If they get sufficiently rattled by the constant failure of the US Congress to enact gun legislation they could easily threaten arms manufacturers with the threat of mass cancellation of tens of billions worth of arms sales if they don’t start singing from the right hymn sheet.
And again with a tiny change, the insertion of an RFID tag into each round of ammo, you would instantly render every bullet sold worldwide traceable from factory to end user. And ,making the sort of “liberty” that NRA types want all but impossible, 2nd amendment or otherwise. And we’d have our libertarian pal with his toy plastic gun and his attempts to ram his fanatical belief’s down the rest of the world’s throat to thank for it!
As always, the problem with these Tea Party types is that they are clueless to the fact we have a world beyond America and how it functions.