Everyone who enjoys guns has known for some time a 3-D printed plastic gun was going to become available. Sure enough, a .380 single shot pistol has been introduced to the world, with plans available online to download and provide to a 3-D printer.
The ATF and local law enforcement agencies are throwing a fit over the introduction of such a weapon (if you even feel comfortable calling it a weapon) and although to date nobody has been arrested for simply printing the gun, it seems everyone who takes a stand and boldly pronounces their interest is found to be suspicious of some other crime.
The first thing to know about the currently available 3-D printed pistol is, well, to forego the mincing of words — it’s a piece of junk. The available plans are for a single shot .380 caliber pistol, which is a nice round to shoot for target practice with a little less kick than a 9mm or .38 Special revolver. It will certainly protect a home in an emergency situation, but is generally considered a second backup weapon. Someone who is well versed in 3-D printing can likely alter the design for a different round, but the gun is likely to break with one shot as it is, and won’t hold up to the energy of a .45 round or especially a .410 gauge shotgun shell which most people associate with a single shot, break action weapon.
Cody Wilson designed the first 3-D plastic gun, introducing the liberator in 2013. A judge ordered him to stop providing the plans freely online as a downloadable resource until further legal review could be conducted, so he began selling the plans for a reasonable fee. An arrest warrant was issued and he fled to Taiwan to avoid further legal harassment. He was arrested in Taiwan under orders of extradition for unrelated child abuse charges, and currently awaits legal proceedings as a molester while the courts and Congress discuss the legality of the gun he invented.
As it pertains to a 3-D printed gun, the 2nd Amendment says you have the right to own guns and to make your own. What is at issue is the 1988 Federal law signed by President Reagan, the Undetectable Firearms Act. The law states that every firearm has to have 105 grams of steel in order to alert a metal detector, and has to appear as a weapon when passing through an x-ray scan. Nobody has ever challenged the constitutionality of the law in the past because there was no gun available which did not meet such criteria.
The issue at hand is not about the Liberator .380 currently available, but a preemptive consideration about the availability of plastic guns as the technology improves. It’s not an imaginative reach to assume far more efficient guns will be developed in the near future with alterations to the current design.
The Liberator will be a collector’s piece and there is nothing wrong with owning one, the real question is whether or not terrorists and criminals are going to have access to undetectable firearms which are otherwise acceptable in the hands of a responsible gun owner.
~ Ready to Fire News