I have been posting a bit lately about 3D printing and what that will mean for gun control. To my mind, 3D printing will essentially make gun control impossible. The only real problems I foresaw with 3D printed weaponry was the materials available, as all the 3D printers I have seen that are within the reach of ordinary consumers to purchase, print in plastic and not metal. As a result, ‘ordinary’ consumers would only be able to print plastic weapons, and therefore would not be able to build high quality weapons. This was exemplarised by some pioneers in 3D printed guns, chaps who run a blog named ‘Defense Distributed”, and who were able to print a gun in December. Their gun was only able to fire 5 or so bullets before it failed. However, since then they have perfected their design, and now claim to be able to fire 600+ bullets with a 3D printed weapon. Here is the video they uploaded to prove it:
The speed with which they have been able to perfect their design, the speed with which 3D printers are becoming affordable to ordinary consumers, and the now widespread concept of open source designs, all lead to the prospect that 3D printed weapons are only going to get better and more widely available from here on out. But one thing that still could be somewhat easy to control is ammunition, and especially the ingredients of ammunition – the ingredients of gunpowder and other propellents. Potassium Nitrate for example isn’t really a an available household chemical (apart from being in some fertilisers), and the purchase of it should be reasonably easy to police – compared to printed guns at least. If governments seriously want to control weapons, they need to start looking at controlling the supply of bullets. But how long that will be a possibility is anyone’s guess.