$12 Instructions for 3D-Printed Firearms have Anti-gunners Sweating

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The 3D-printable RAMBO system. (Photo: U.S. Army)

Readily available homemade firearms have long been the ultimate gun-control nightmare, and a new report suggests that Michael Bloomberg’s bad dream may become reality sooner than even he could have imagined.

The RAND Corporation recently released a study that found instructions for 3D-printed firearms being sold on the “dark web” for as little as $12. Researchers were hoping to determine the size and scope of the trade in firearms and related products on cryptomarkets, and they discovered that in 2017 “arms-related” encompasses much more than physical weapons.

Researchers determined that of the 811 arms-related listings on 12 cryptomarkets, firearms took the lion’s share of the market with 339 separate listings. The headline-generator, however, has been the second-largest portion of arms-related listings: digital products, which included computer aided design (CAD) files and bomb-building instructions.

“While guides and manuals on how to make bombs at home were illegally circulating on the web well before the establishment of cryptomarkets, the level of accessibility provided by these platforms represents reason for high concern among policy makers and practitioners,” researchers said in the study.

Though only 11 of the 811 listings include 3D printing instructions, the rapidly descending cost of 3D printers is giving gun-control advocates serious cause for worry.

“The proliferation of guidelines and 3D models, in combination with the increased quality of commercially available 3D printers, may result in more untraceable weapons,” researchers said. “The availability of 3D models for additive manufacturing of parts, components or full firearms has been recognised by the international community as a major source of concern.”

But not everyone agrees that the risk from homemade, 3D-printed firearms will present much of a problem in the short-term.

SEE ALSO: RAMBO: 3D-Printed 40mm Grenade Launcher Fires 3D-Printed Ammo

“It’s important to note that it’s not a particularly expedient process of making a gun,” Dr. Angela Daly said at the 5th International Conference on Cybercrime and Computer Forensics on Australia’s Gold Coast.

Making a plastic, 3D-printed firearm is laborious, time consuming, and in the case of “cheap and nasty” 3D printers, likely to result in badly-made parts.

A more likely scenario involves criminal elements using gun designs at larger facilities that are capable of manufacturing metal parts.

“What they’re going to do is stand over people who have a mid-sized commercial operation that utilizes additive manufacturing. If they go in there with their own guns, their real guns, and say ‘here’s our 3D gun file that we’ve downloaded, the design file, do it or else’,” Daly said.

She also pointed out that digital files like the ones RAND found aren’t limited to the so-called “darknet.”

“It is everywhere. It’s just a simple Google search, because it’s not criminalised [in Victoria] at the moment.”

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • OFBG July 28, 2017, 5:20 pm

    What cracks me up is the concern that the technology for creating “ghost guns” “may result in more untraceable weapons.” When was the last time a crime was solved by tracing a serialized firearm?

  • Eric July 28, 2017, 2:33 pm

    I agree that this scenario is preposterous and Hollywoodesque. This crazy liberal is saying that some criminals would go into a factory and hold the entire place hostage until they make them a crate of crappy 3D-printed firearms that are probably as dangerous to the user as they are to the one being shot at? Wouldn\’t someone in the plant call the cops and report a hostage situation? How could the criminals force the plant operators to re-tool their machines to make the guns, crank out a few hundred of them (or at least enough to make this suicide mission worthwhile), take their huge crate of guns, and be out of there before the police showed up?I wonder what it\’s like being a liberal and imagining that stuff like that is possible. Blows my mind.

  • Robert Smith July 21, 2017, 9:56 pm

    “What they’re going to do is stand over people who have a mid-sized commercial operation that utilizes additive manufacturing. If they go in there with their own guns, their real guns, and say ‘here’s our 3D gun file that we’ve downloaded, the design file, do it or else’,” Daly said.

    Ridiculous, sounds like a bad Hollywood movie script. Clandestine manufacture has never been more than a minor source of illegal firearms. Tens of millions of guns have come out of former Soviet /Warsaw Pact arsenals courtesy of corrupt local officials willing to deal. Add to that millions more in terrorist-controlled failed states like Libya and Somalia. Why would some criminal organization bother to try to make their own when they could more easily acquire them on the black market?

    • IYearn4nARnCali July 24, 2017, 1:46 am

      My good Mr. Smith, tut tut my good sir, but are ye using Logic in response to anti-gun zealots? Now, you know as well as I that such efforts are pointless, as they each have a Level 91 Anti-Logic Protection Spell which actively refutes facts, logic, reasoning, truth, empirical evidence, and that most uncommon of senses, common sense.They have a Level 200 Emotional Response Attack which can withstand blistering reality and still works on gun muggles who don\’t know a Glock from a Derringer, or a blackpowder musket from a gatling gun, an AR from an AK.3D printing and more apropos, 3d Sintering are the next big thing in firearms, I say this as a simple man who reads a whole bunch and has an abiding interest in both additive and reductive manufacturing processes.You make good points, Mr. Smith, and I agree with them, but gun control in all of it\’s horrid breadth is concerned with limitation, control, and censure, so this tech must be squashed by the anti-gun roaches.

      • OFBG July 28, 2017, 5:17 pm

        One of the more troubling things to consider is that many of those “gun muggles”who are, and have been, among are otherwise rational, even knowlegeable gun owners and shooters. Some years ago Steven Bodio, a well-qualified gun writer appended his book “Good Guns” on SxS double guns with commentary about what sorts of guns he values. In that he stated he didn’t “know an AK from a Kalashnikov.” As Pogo said, “we have met the enemy and he is us.”

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