Guns made of plastic are no longer a product of science fiction

In Opinion

A lethal plastic gun called the “Liberator,” which is made in a 3-D printer and was successfully fired May 2 (in a YouTube video), is about to turn our nation’s gun control debate upside down.

We, as Americans, have the right to bear arms, which was granted to us by the founding fathers in the U.S. Constitution. In the last two years, this freedom allowed several gun violence tragedies, which have shaken our country to its core. It’s made many of us reconsider the Second Amendment and how much we really support it.

Now, the thought of a printable gun made of plastic is a troubling one in a decade where we’ve absorbed tragedies caused by its metal companion.

Fifteen of the Liberator’s 16 parts are made of plastic that is undetectable by airport security, with the exception of one small metal pin. The creator of the gun, Cody Wilson, a 25-year-old law student, says the free blueprints were downloaded more than 100,000 times in two days before the government revoked it from the Internet.

Wilson, a Second Amendment enthusiast, argues that everyone should be able to access a firearm, but immediately pulled the blueprints from the Internet after the State Departments requested him to remove it. Wilson still considers the release of the blueprints a victory for pro-gun advocates.

“I still think we win in the end because the files are all over the nternet.” Wilson said in an interview with Betabeat (an Observer subsidiary).

Right now, 3-D printing a gun is anything but easy. While getting your hands on a gun design file is as simple as a few mouse clicks, actually printing that file is almost the complete opposite.

And while there may be easier options to build a firearm, 3-D technology and the ability to exploit it is rapidly improving. Alongside this, you can count on better designs for plastic guns in the future. Wilson himself has already designed a plastic firearm that can hold a clip of more than 600 bullets and demonstrated it on YouTube.

I’m more concerned about the weapon being used for terrorism, foreign and domestic. People who have a goal, who have an agenda, those are the people who will go the extra mile to get a weapon like the Liberator, through security systems meant to stop guns from passing.

Congressman Steve Israel, of New York, has drafted a bill trying to stop the weapons potential.

“Security checkpoints, background checks and gun regulations will do little good if criminals can print their own plastic firearms at home and bring those firearms through metal detectors with no one the wiser,” Israel said in a statement.

“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,” said Sen. Charles Schumer to the New York Daily News.

I don’t blame the congressman or the senator for trying to strike down the plastic gun before it becomes more popular; 3-D printers can be acquired for as little as $1,000 according the New York Daily News. A person doesn’t have to design the gun themselves because the blueprints are already available to them and all they have to do is upload the blueprints and start printing out the plastic parts to assemble the gun.

The emergence of 3-D printing, a technology that’s in its infancy and still relatively expensive, has begun to raise questions about whether the government can, or should, attempt to regulate the private manufacturing of printed guns.

I, for one, am glad the government is attempting to put a stop to this before the technology improves.

“When I started talking about the issue of plastic firearms months ago, I was told the idea of a plastic gun is science fiction,” Israel said. “Now that this technology appears to be upon us, we need to act now to extend to the ban of plastic firearms.”

I could not agree more with the congressman in the matter.

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