A 3D printing society is an armed society

9 Oct

A friend of mine once showed me a pistol that he had made in his garage (or rather, his parents’ garage). The friction when I pulled the slide felt and sounded like sandpaper, but the bullet that had been in the chamber was properly ejected, and I have no reason to believe that it wouldn’t have been properly fired had I pulled the trigger. (Looking back, it seems like pretty serious criminality in a country with hard restrictions on firearms, but not yet quite having entered adulthood, we still lived by the flexible laws of the harsh community of children.)

My friend knew quite a bit about guns, of course, and was a pretty skilled mechanic. In a probable future where most people can get access to a 3D printer, that won’t be necessary. You’ll be able to get the specifications for weapon parts online, and print them. Indeed, according to the BBC, this appears already possible. Why the gun in this case would need to have no moving parts is beyond me, but we can assume that this is not a lasting restriction.

Just like development of digital storage and communication made copyright law largely irrelevant, we can expect 3D printers to make arms restrictions rather futile. People will be able to conveniently make things to hurt themselves and others.

Governments will try to place restrictions on 3D printing, I suppose, for this and other reasons. But I predict that they won’t halt progress in the long run. Printing technology will develop towards more advanced and more accessible, and will have a too positive impact on people’s lives to be held back. The future holds access to pretty much any toys we can imagine, further reducing the gap between man and machine. That which does not kill us makes us stranger.


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