A new Department of Homeland Security bulletin warning of the security risks 3D printed guns pose may be setting the stage for 3D printer regulation or at the very least more intrusive pat downs when attending certain events.
According to Fox News, a DHS memo is being sent to various state and federal law enforcement agencies cautioning, “Limiting plastic guns may be impossible,” and that 3D guns pose “public safety risks.”
“Significant advances in three-dimensional (3D) printing capabilities, availability of free digital 3D printer files for firearms components, and difficulty regulating file sharing may present public safety risks from unqualified gun seekers who obtain or manufacture 3D printed guns,” warns the bulletin compiled by the Joint Regional Intelligence Center,” the memo states, as reported by Fox News.
“This is a serious threat,” a nervous law enforcement source reportedly told Fox, adding, “These could defeat magnetometers. The only security procedure to catch [the 3D firearms] is a pat down. Is America ready for pat-downs at every event?”
If this all sounds like you woke up in some real-life science fiction fantasy, allow me to bring you up to speed.
Towards the beginning of May, an Austin-based 3D printing group known as Defense Distributed announced it was in its final stages of testing their coup de grâce, a functional firearm produced almost entirely out of plastic parts manufactured by a 3D printer, which the group named the “Liberator.”
On May 6, the group began distributing schematics for the single-shot pistol freely online, allowing anyone connected to the Internet to download them from anywhere in the world. The deliberately open nature of the gun’s files led the State Department to issue a take-down notice to the group later that week claiming they had violated firearms export laws. However, the State Department was a day late and a dollar short as the files had already gone viral and by that time were already downloaded over 100,000 times.
Additionally, the DHS memo obtained by Fox specifically mentions Defense Distributed by name. A section of the memo is even dedicated to their Liberator gun design, stating:
“Magnetometers may fail to detect the Liberator, depending on device sensitivity. Though it is prohibited by federal law, manufacturers may deliberately omit the unnecessary metal insert, leaving only a small nail and ammunition as the sole metal component. Future designs could further reduce or eliminate metal entirely.
“Unqualified gun seekers may be able to acquire or manufacture their own Liberators with no background checks.”
As Fox News reports, the DHS bulletin also warned “the firearms can be made without serial numbers or unique identifiers, hindering ballistics testing,” and that as 3D printers inevitably become more affordable, “even more sophisticated printed guns will become easier to acquire.”
Last week, UK newspaper The Daily Mail claimed to have “exposed” the “massive international security risk” of 3D guns when they cheekily produced their own plastic weapon and sneaked it on board a Eurostar train. Several of the paper’s readers, however, saw through their cunning ploy, noting they produced the firearm without the necessary metal firing pin, and didn’t attempt to smuggle ammunition. “Yes – but did your intern manage to get any bullets on the train… no. Typical DM nonsense!,” one savvy reader commented on their website.
Even prior to its creation, the 3D printed gun had its fair share of political opponents.
In December, Democrat NY Rep. Steve Israel called for the urgent renewal of legislation banning undetectable firearms set to expire at the end of this year. “With the advent of 3-D printers these guns are suddenly a real possibility, but the law Congress passed is set to expire next year. We should act now to give law enforcement authorities the power to stop the development of these weapons before they are as easy to come by as a Google search,” Rep. Israel stated in a press release on his House site.
Also, following the release and proliferation of the Liberator gun files, notorious gun grabber Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), attempted to persuade people, “Now anyone, a terrorist, someone who is mentally ill, a spousal abuser, a felon, can essentially open a gun factory in their garage…it must be stopped.”
Of course, the DHS bulletin is right on.
As Internet patrons can attest, once something is online, the toothpaste is out of the tube, so to speak, but will the advent of the 3D printed gun actually backfire on us?
The DHS is now actively engaged in painting this tremendous scientific advancement as a public threat, and in order to protect We the People from the big, bad 3D printed gun boogeyman, we must unquestionably hand them more control, give up more civil liberties and submit to more invasive pat-downs. Ah, the land of the free…