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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

3-D printing pioneer says: Gunpowder can be regulated, but printed guns can't be controlled

I've written several times about the way 3-D printing is complicated the already complicated debate over gun control, by making it possible to home-print registered components for firearms - and eventually, making it possible to home-print a plastic gun that will suck, but will be good enough to kill people.

Wired has an article about this today, with this discussion:

“Perhaps the only way forward, if we choose to try and control this, is to control the gunpowder — the explosives — and not the actual device,” Hod Lipson, a Cornell University professor of engineering and an early pioneer of 3-D printing, tells Danger Room. The reason, Lipson says, is that it would be the remaining “controlled substance” in a field that’s otherwise uncontrollable, regardless of the shape or size of the firearm that you’re using — or printing. It is the “unifying material everybody would need, and it would be a good target for regulation if people choose to regulate it.”

Making gunpowder at home is possible, but alot harder than 3-D printing will soon be.

Here's the Wired story, which gives a good, realistic overview of the printable-gun situation.