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Peter Cochrane's Blog: Beyond 3D Printed Guns

Don't let the excitement around 3D printed guns obscure the reality about 3D printing which can be a great force for good.

Written in a Kesgrave (Suffolk UK) coffee shop and despatched to Tech Republic @ 32Mbit/s a free wifi service.

Way back in 2012 I reported on the initial 3D printing of firearms and saw one of the biggest reactions to any of my blogs, with a mostly negative and 'it will never be real' tinge.

Less than a year on and the 3D printed gun is real enough for widespread media coverage and a huge reaction in the US, with calls for a complete ban on the publication of designs and the licensing of all 3D printers.

But a stable door and bolted horse spring to mind! As a casual or regular visitor to the US you cannot miss the freedom of access to and general availability of firearms. Many hardware, general, and department stores have a 'guns section' where you can get everything from handguns to shotguns and rifles. But if you want to start a war it isn't difficult to get hold of an assault rifle or even heavier weaponry. With far more guns than people and a powerful gun lobby it is hard to see how 3D printed weapons could make the American situation even worse!

The people who ought to be worried about 3D technology and guns are the Europeans who will witness an 'end run' around their tight gun controls.

To put this in context; the only people I know with guns in the UK are farmers and smallholders with a pest problem. I qualify as I have quite a rabbit problem, but I am only 'allowed' a powerful air rifle for which I have to have a fire arms certificate.

This involved a visit by the police fire arms unit, an interview, criminal and medical records check, and character references from three different people who have known me for at least 10 years.

My gun has to be locked away in a steel cabinet bolted to floor and wall and the ammunition (0.22 pellets) have to be stored elsewhere. Only I can access the two different keys necessary to access the gun cabinet, and only I can use this registered weapon. Quite a contrast!

In my view the upside of 3D printing is so great that any form of control or ban would be counter productive, and even destructive. Follow the link to see a nice example of what the technology can do when good people get together.

As ever we have to balance the threat of a those of evil intent against the thousands of good people who will make stunning contributions to society with this technology. Sadly, societies and individuals in general are not good at making such judgements as the rationale of balancing risk seems to escape or confound them.

About

Peter Cochrane is an engineer, scientist, entrepreneur, futurist and consultant. He is the former CTO and head of research at BT, with a career in telecoms and IT spanning more than 40 years.

9 comments
Dukhalion
Dukhalion

they are so much better. As for guntoting madmen, go ahead, but stay in america.

badgenes
badgenes

Mr. Ranger, ponder this: Our FBI has issued several warnings for individuals fitting your profile using coffee shops for terrorism and puppy mangling. If you add in paying with cash and wearing blue jeans the likelihood that you are an American-hating, backwards, boogeyman increases beyond significantly on our See-Something-Say-Something-Police-State-Program. Best be very careful over here so as not to be gestapo'd.

badgenes
badgenes

I was struck speechless for a moment upon reading this article's title. I was slightly uncomfortable with the tone of the beginning of the article, and rather depressingly became disappointed, nauseated, and finally furious. Another talking box from, you guessed it, the UK. Discussing firearms in America. Right..... Unfortunately there are those who will be influenced by this "gentleman" to be fearful and disgusted with the SECOND MOST IMPORTANT CITIZEN'S RIGHT, AS FAR AS THE MEN WHO FRAMED OUR COUNTRY WERE CONCERNED. "Framed our country", as in Thomas Paine, hated by the British for thinking for himself. They are still stung over the colony thing perhaps??? Seriously, GET OFF THE STAGE. I cannot protest within 100 yards of a government structure or employee, yet this "gentlemen" can post this garbage, this political propaganda piece, on Tech Republic and ALL OF YOU ARE COOL WITH THIS? NO? DO SOMETHING. Even if it is just something such as this that may make a difference in one person's mind.

Bobarino
Bobarino

of a government that would make you jump through that many hoops for the priviledge of owning a pellet gun.

travis
travis

Ah, the ever present question of gun control. Why is it so important to Americans? For an answer to that question please see: http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/welcome.html. Guns (and all of the articles in the Bill of Rights) are what keep the American government small, or at least growing at a smaller pace than some would like. However, the growth of the federal government in the United States is still far too fast for freedom's good health. We have lost many, many freedoms over the last 50 years.

JCitizen
JCitizen

These are just tools - it is the intent of man that makes things evil - control the bad man, not the technology. We need this kind of freedom to advance technology - it is the free exchange of ideas that revolutionized the internet - 3D printing is already revolutionizing manufacturing technology. Metal sinter 3D printers are already chucking out aircraft jet motor parts. We may see an absolutely revolutionary change in the quality of life in man - Don't ruin it with paranoid delusions of terror! Get a grip and join the new age!

JCitizen
JCitizen

that seem odd to us here in the US. We see your fear as particularly queer - we believe in controlling the madman with due process and not the tools.

peter
peter

@badgenes   Long ago the USA was a place of discussion, thinking and reasoned debate...whatever happened...where did the fear and paranoia come from....??

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