Is 3D Printing Set to Disrupt the Gun Production Industry?

3D Printed Gun

Gun control is always a hot topic, especially in the months following mass shootings. People discuss the best ways to keep the general public safe, talk about creating stricter laws, or defend their rights to bear arms. No matter your views on the topic, there’s one concern that everyone shares – 3D printing could make it more difficult than ever to provide security and enforce gun control laws.

Self-Manufactured Firearms

You may or may not have heard about the shooting of Jo Cox, a British Member of Parliament, back in June. She was shot and stabbed multiple times in West Yorkshire, England. What most people don’t know, however, is that the gun the perpetrator used to shoot Cox wasn’t a typical gun. Rather, it was a self-manufactured or “makeshift” firearm. More specifically, it was a handgun made from materials for purchase in hardware stores that could fire .38 caliber ammunition. While it is only single-shot, it is lethal at close range.

3D Printing and a New Age of Firearms?

Countries like England have some of the world’s strictest gun control laws, but like the story above, that doesn’t stop people from obtaining weapons if they truly want them. It’s possible to go online right now and find plans for basic handguns that can be printed on consumer-grade 3D printers. As these technologies continue to improve, the printed firearms will improve right along with them. With no serial numbers and no registration processes, it would be nearly impossible for a government to discern the true number of firearms spread across their countries.

What Experts Suggest

Although there’s no real way for the government to keep track of what people print at home, experts have made a few suggestions that may make people more reluctant to print firearms. For example, they’ve recommended stricter intellectual property laws, which they believe may help counter the threat. What’s more, in order to combat fears that the 3D printing technology could pose an even bigger threat, especially when it comes to nuclear warfare. Experts believe that placing restrictions on the types of technologies exported from nuclear states may help regulate this.

Do You Need to Worry?

Like any other technology that is designed to improve human lives, there will always be people who want to use it for unintended reasons. As of right now, the very worst threats aren’t likely to surface anytime soon. There are some who believe that the more governments try to impose gun control, the more attractive 3D printing becomes. How governments around the world will choose to handle the problem of makeshift printed guns remains to be seen.

As far as the gun production industry is concerned, there are still intellectual property rights and trademarks, and the vast majority of people will continue to look for those trademarks when they shop for firearms. The ability to print them may have some impact, but manufacturers like Ruger, Remington, and Smith & Wesson don’t need to fear bankruptcy just yet.