-By Warner Todd Huston
In the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, the Associated Press is again fearmongering over the idea of a “printable” gun. That would be a gun manufactured using a 3-D printer that prints in plastics instead of ink. Of course, this story is consistently misreported as no gun can be made in such a fashion, but the Old Media keeps regurgitating this claim anyway in order to push an anti-gun agenda.
In a December 21 report, the AP says that anti-gun groups are “worried” over new technology that utilizes downloadable plans, software and commercially available machines that can print fully realized items — in this case a fireable gun — in 3-D. This technology, AP claims, can “print” a firearm that will get around any gun regulations.
As the AP’s handwringing report begins, “Downloading a gun’s design plans to your computer, building it on a three-dimensional printer and firing it minutes later. No background checks, no questions asked.”
“Sound far-fetched? It’s not. And that is disquieting for gun control advocates,” the story continues.
Well, it might sound “far-fetched” because it is far-fetched. The truth is there is currently no such technology that can “print” a gun.
Just like nearly every other badly written report that takes this story up, the facts are left out leaving only vague claims and absurd fearmongering over the idea of printable guns.
Now, it is a fact that some parts of a gun have been manufactured using a 3-D printer. It is also true that these parts were put together into a complete firearm and then fired. But it isn’t true that all the parts of the gun were “printed.” Neither is it true that all the parts of a gun can be printed and used in a working weapon.
Most recently a group calling itself Defense Distributed created a lower receiver for an AR-15 and successfully fired a few shots from their creation. By the sixth shot, the “printed” gun shattered due to the stress of the explosions of the bullets.
But here is the truth about the printable gun project. They did not print a whole gun. They only printed the lower receiver. They couldn’t print a barrel, a firing pin, the springs, or the firing mechanisms of the AR-15 rifle because in fact it is impossible to do so with any current technology. (And this is not to even mention that it is impossible to “print” any ammunition.)
Further, even the printing machines that do print in metals cannot print in high stress materials. There is a reason that it takes million-dollar machine shops to cerate serviceable guns. A 3-D printer is a long way off from being able to do this.
So, all these experimenters did was manufacture a small part of a firearm and then assembled it together along with real gun parts to create a working firearm.
This is not printing a gun. It just isn’t.
Sadly, the AP does not relate these facts clearly in its story. Instead of facts, the AP ladles out fear, ill-founded assumptions, and innuendo instead of facts.
Could a gun be manufactured by such a method sometime in the future? Perhaps. But the fact is a gun cannot now be created using the process under discussion. It is currently impossible to make all the parts needed to assemble a serviceable firearm of any kind by printing them.
“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. He has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that he wrote articles on U.S. history for several small American magazines. His political columns are featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com, BigHollywood.com, and BigJournalism.com, as well as RightWingNews.com, RightPundits.com, CanadaFreePress.com, StoptheACLU.com, AmericanDaily.com, among many, many others. Mr. Huston is also endlessly amused that one of his articles formed the basis of an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel Magazine in 2008.
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