A bit slow to warm up the engines, law enforcement officials in the U.S. and Australia have begun issuing warnings to law enforcement agencies and the public about the dangers of 3D-printing guns. Pro: Video of a printed gun exploding! Con: Their concerns are misplaced.
Fox News obtained a warning issued by the Department of Homeland Security to state and federal enforcement groups.
A May 21 bulletin distributed to numerous state and federal law enforcement agencies and obtained by FoxNews.com states that the guns, which can be made by downloading blueprints into cutting edge computers that mold three-dimensional items from melted plastic, "poses public safety risks" and are likely beyond the current reach of regulators. The guns threaten to render 3D gun control efforts useless if their manufacture becomes more widespread. …
"Limiting access may be impossible," concludes the three-page bulletin.
The memo lists several areas of concern for law enforcement. One is that 3D guns can't be traced, lacking serial numbers or centralized manufacturing. Plastic guns also elude metal detectors, as the Daily Mail demonstrated by bringing a printed weapon on the Eurostar train. Nor can they effectively be subjected to ballistics testing. Such tests rely on the attributes of the weapon that fired a bullet, comparing the firing pin imprint on shell casings and the marks left on a bullet by barrel rifling. In a 3D-printed gun, the barrel and pin can be replaced extremely simply.
Given how difficult these guns are to make, these warnings are mostly as theoretical. Cops in New South Wales are a bit more realistic about their cautions after actually printing a couple copies of the "Liberator," the gun design released by Defense Distributed that was downloaded 100,000 times before the State Department asked that it be removed. The the region's police commissioner did echo the concerns of Homeland Security, but also offered a different warning: these guns aren't safe.
3D guns do not have any of the safety standards, quality control or protection for the user that commercially-produced firearms have.
“The message goes out to anyone with the resources to purchase a 3D printer. Don’t attempt to use a 3D printer to produce a weapon. A 3D-printed gun is not potentially dangerous, it is dangerous,” the Commissioner said.
The video his agency released says more than a thousand words on that subject.