J Chang
  • J Chang
  • Houston, TX
  • United States

Creator / Founder, Houston Shakers TEDx talks

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Can we find a way to prevent an imminent threat for guns produced by 3D printing?

I read an article today in "The Atlantic" by Philip Bumb that brought up an issue that I have never thought about: the ability to make guns with 3D printers. Please let me start off by stating that I am very ignornant with this technology, but I am quite fascinated by the possibilities and good that it brings. However, think about this: As the 3D printer technology gets better, smarter, and more accessible to the masses, the threat of an even greater gun related violence is there.
People will no longer need to go through the regulations and background checks to purchase guns (not that they have had a huge dent in the violence), they would just need to get a blue print (internet DIY), click, and print.
Yes, I do understand that the technology is not quite there, that the materials to produce these weapons are more complex that non tech people think. However, there's no denying that it will happen.
My question now is there anyway that we can implement a device, chip, or whatever that wouldn't allow certain items to be printed?
Thank you and pardon my naivety on this subject matter, I'm eager to see what your solutions are.

  • Dec 20 2012: At some point in the future, someone will develop a technology that will make the current most advanced 3D printers look like children play toys, when that technology reach the masses, anyone will be able to print anything from kitchen knifes to airplanes, guns included. Under those circumstances, any legislative attempt to control guns will be doomed to failure, so the only effective gun control would be that embedded in the citizens minds, and I am not talking about an implanted chip on the brain but about a good education based on empathy, responsibility and self discipline.
  • Dec 18 2012: "Can we find a way to prevent an imminent threat for guns produced by 3D printing?"

    Yes: you can't print all parts because some parts, like the barrel, have to be made from high grade metal. The threat of 3D printers isn't so much that you can make a working gun with them (you can't), but outdated regulation allows for the serial number to be printed on parts that don't have be made from metal and can therefore be made with a 3D printer, so the answer is changing the regulation so that the serial number has to be printed on the barrel.
    • Dec 28 2012: Without understanding a lot I know that there are many 3d printers that do print metal parts
      • Dec 28 2012: Sure, in factories, but they wouldn't fit in your garage and they're not exactly affordable.
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    Dec 18 2012: only some of the gun is printed with a 3d printer. 3d printed guns are not a threat
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      Dec 18 2012: Casey I agree with you, but I'm talking about the future. How would 3D printing of guns not be a threat?
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        Dec 18 2012: Make 3d guns that print plastic bullets as well. Making them non lethal
  • Jan 10 2013: PS shall we have rock control?
    What need to be controlled are governments in the hands of out of controlled maniacs!
  • Jan 10 2013: Guns do not produce threat, and "imminent" is therefore meaningless in this case, it is people who can be a threat, and people do that with all sorts of things, from rocks to automobiles to nuclear weapons.
    To more answer you question more precisely, 3D printing cannot produce firearms especially 3D printing will normally be limited to plastic, and the metal(s) used in forearms, and for demanding engineering applications for that matter need to be made from other processes still like machining and forging...
    The only things I can think of right now that technologies are threats, and are imminent threats are ones that have a mind of their own, such as autonomous drones (yes the decide whom to kill, no humans, and have been in use), and nanobots or nannies, they are self repairing, self replicating and can be 100% autonomous, and yes they are already here.
    Guns are a decoy to draw our attentions from these things and the crazy people who conceive, make and use them, guns are no match for such technologies...
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    Dec 24 2012: It's already been done.

    And it isn't that difficult. It's already perfectly legal to manufacture your own firearms, free of licensing and serial numbers, provided you don't sell the firearm as a business (otherwise, you're a manufacturer).

    Since the BATFE considers the lower receiver the actual "firearm" part of the firearm, that's all you need to manufacture. Everything else can be bought off the shelf and assembled.
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    Dec 18 2012: What is the root cause for violence then? There are so many avenues, and no one real way to combat it. Do you think it be sufficient to fight one cause at a time? I'm a dreamer, I get affected deeply by seeing violence and the sufferings of all living things on this earth. There must be something that we can do to make a positive change, I have yet to think of a solution.
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      Dec 19 2012: Hi J.
      Jesus gave us the solution 2000 years ago. Love God, & love one another. That's it, easy to understand. He also explained why we wouldn't be able to do it. Some are willing to try however, most are quite against the idea; pity!

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    Dec 18 2012: anyone in the US can just walk into a shop and buy a gun. the few that can't can any time buy a gun on black market, or just steal one from someone. getting a gun is not a problem. so the ability to print one does not change a thing.

    it is impossible to prevent gun printing (should the technology come). there is no telling whether a piece of metal is a gun or not. even a human expert could not tell looking at a metal part whether it is a gun part or some other machinery part. weapon designers will always be one step ahead any legislation. preventing gun manufacture would require so massive limitation of the technology that is incompatible with basic concepts of liberty.

    it would be better to focus on the actual reasons of violence, and solve them. gun control is not the way.
    • Dec 18 2012: A FIM-92 Stinger costs only $38.000 and has been mass produced since the 1980s. It's a pretty effective weapon to shoot down passenger planes. Many equivalent weapons exist outside the United States, yet governments have been very effective at keeping these weapons out of the hands of non-state actors. Keeping certain weapons out of the hands of civilians is not overly cumbersome and it is an acceptable trade off because the minor reduction of freedom for a handful of enthousiasts and terrorists is easily outweighed by the danger they would pose to the rest of society. There also entire countries where not a single civilian owns an assault rifle.
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        Dec 18 2012: welcome to the 21st century. raw force of the state works less and less effectively. yet, they will grab more and more power to compensate for it.
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        Dec 24 2012: You can purchase and legally own a Stinger missile system. Just be prepared to pay for it. It constitutes a "destructive device" by federal firearm law.
        • Dec 28 2012: Apart from one sentence of wishful thinking uttered by Anthonin Scalia, there never has been any notion of such a right, ever, while unauthorized users of Stingers are hunted down around the world. And that's just the US, it goes without saying that all those countries without gun cultures would smoke your ass if they even suspected you of owning a Stinger.