The NRA are keen on the notion that ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’. Well, they’re half right. Guns don’t kill people, bullets kill people (unless they are pistol whipped to death, of course).
There’s been an awful lot of talk about gun control recently following a speight of horrific mass shootings in the US, and if not for the spineless Senate, America might have a new, if insipid, gun control bill by now.
However, the firing this week of the first gun to ever be made on a 3D printer seems to suggest that the whole notion of controlling guns is soon to be rendered pointless.
It may be a crude and limited firearm, but a gun is a gun when it’s pointed in your face (I presume). This is also a gun that wouldn’t be detected by a metal detector, making it in many ways even more desirable for your day-to-day terrorist. And because it can be 3D printed, it can essentially be in the hands of anyone with an internet connection and the £1000 or so it currently costs for a 3D printer (you can get an inkjet for about £15 now, so you can see how the cost will come down over time).
So now guns join the ranks of music and video in being essentially impossible to control. However, thankfully, the bullet is a far, far more complicated beast than the gun, which is essentially a pin on a spring. Of course, you can also make your own bullets (or ammunition, as this disturbingly matter-of-fact Yahoo! Answers thread suggests) but would require a bit more precision engineering, tools and skill, and the possibility of losing several fingers on the way to mastering the technique, then simple 3D printing. They also have to made of metals, so unless you can somehow pull of the ‘keyring trick’ like John Malkovich in the 1993 film ‘In the Line of Fire’, airline security protocol should still have it’s way.
So really, the politician and policy makers both here and in the US need to start moving the debate, from gun control to bullet control. This way, when the next disillusioned teenager looks on the internet for a way to make to the pain go away, he’d be better off 3D printing a pea shooter than a gun.