Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Open Source Murder

by Daniel Rollins

America is a bizarre and scary place from this side of the Atlantic. Although claiming to be the “land of the free” the country seems to be enslaved to a 222 year old law which has created a culture where many people in America worship guns before God. After the tragic shooting in Newton I was quite shocked to hear the American gun lobby advocating armed guards in every school rather than gun controls but more shocked at the widespread approval this policy was met with in the American media. Although I have never visited the country and in no way claim to be an expert on their culture, it seems that guns have become synonymous with freedom (tell that to someone cowering from a mad man, in a cupboard). The individualistic values of the “wild west” still seem to have a strong influence on the politics of this supposedly civilized country.

Cody Wilson
It is this barbaric culture that has apparently inspired 25 year old Texan law student, Cody Wilson, to design and publish a blueprint for a printable hand gun. Wilson has been listed by Wired as one of the 15 most dangerous people in the world and described by others as a “terrifying lunatic”. His gun, ironically called the “Liberator”, is made of plastic, has been tested and is able to fire a single .380 pistol cartridge. Most terrifyingly, guns made using his method are undetectable, untraceable and can be printed by anyone who has a few hundred pounds for a 3D-printer and an internet connection.

The Liberator? 
The implications this gun has on law, technology and society are enormous. The US government has already tried to stop the plan's distribution by using gun export laws to remove the plans from the designer’s website. However, like any attempt to control information on the internet, this has proved futile; the blueprint had already been downloaded 100,000 times and is now freely available on file-sharing site, The Pirate Bay.

Wilson’s shots are also being heard in the technology industry which is already nervous about the loss of manufacturing jobs to 3D printers. While the gun looks crude and unsophisticated now, this infant technology is expected to rapidly grow in sophistication until more advanced and dangerous guns can be made; some fear that this advancement in 3D-printer tech may be slowed as large companies and governments seek to ensure a level of control over this potentially revolutionary technology.

Finally, it also means that anyone and everyone may eventually be able to have easy access to a printed gun; the man trying to protect his family, the young woman afraid of sexual harassment, the jealous lover, the psychopath. No longer will they have to try and find a shady gangster to buy an illegal firearm; all they will have to do is download some plans and click print.

Defense Distributed, the non-profit run by Wilson to develop the gun, considers the impact on its website: “This project might change the way we think about gun control and consumption. How do governments behave if they must one day operate on the assumption that any and every citizen has near instant access to a firearm through the Internet? Let’s find out.”

I’m not sure I want to.

2 comments:

  1. >Finally, it also means that anyone and everyone may eventually be able to have easy access to a printed gun

    We already have unlimited access to cheap, reusable, metal guns that can fire a couple hundred thousand rounds.

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  2. I'll conceived, reactionary nonsense I'm afraid
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/05/10/oh_no_its_the_plastic_3d_gun/

    From a UK perspective - where you would need to find an illegal supplier of ammunition to use the "gun" - using a 3D printer to make a 1-shot, inaccurate, quite likely to blow your own hand off, weapon seems more foolish than just buying a proper firearm from said criminal ammunition supplier.

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