Although the technology is still in its infancy, Wilson’s innovation has already sparked heated debate. Some gun rights advocates (including Wilson) argue this means current gun laws will soon be obsolete. They welcome the fact that home hobbyists may soon be able to build functioning firearms without any background check or government record. Others are alarmed, concerned that this would enable criminals to more easily obtain firearms. Congressman Steve Israel has already stated his intent to modify current laws to ban such guns.
However, Congressman Israel may be too late. Once thousands of motivated hobbyists start downloading open source gun designs and posting their refinements, we’ll likely see rapid technical advances. But Cody Wilson’s real impact on America may not be technological but political — and in a good way.
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I agree with Hsieh. If there is one thing we can learn from 20th Century history, it is that governments cannot be trusted with a monopoly of force. While it has always been legal for Americans to make untraceable guns for their own use, 3D printing lowers the entry bar, especially since traditional shop classes have been on the wain in American schools, while a larger number of people have developed computer skills. 3D printing will make home manufacture of firearms more accessible to the masses, especially as the technology matures.
That said, for those like myself willing to learn basic machine shop skills, fully functional firearms can be made at home with equipment within reach of most of the middle class. Small milling machines and lathes are available at prices under $1,000 each. For a modest additional expenditure, they can be made more precise with digital readouts, and for another grand or so can by CNC-enabled.
To would-be tyrants like Steve King, Charles Schumer, and Dianne Feinstein: You can't stop the signal.