A University of Texas student has assembled a team of engineers and programmers to craft a blueprint for a gun anyone with a 3D printer can download and "print."
The "Wiki Weapon" project presents yet another example of how technological innovations are outpacing gun regulations.
Cody Wilson, a second-year UT law student, is leading the effort to develop the printable plastic firearm as part of a collective called Defense Distributed. The group announced in mid-September that it had raised the $20,000 needed to finance the project.
Advances in 3D printing, a process during which plastic resin is deposited layer by layer to create a three dimensional object, have made it possible to actually create a weapon with a software package and a 3D printer, which are now available in several retail chains for as little as $600 each.
According to Wilson, the project's goal is not to develop and sell a working gun, but to create an open-source free schematic (blueprint) that individuals could download and use to print their own weapons at home.
Of course, if a "printable gun" is viable, those downloading and producing the plastic firearm wouldn't need a license, a background check, or much technical knowledge, just a 3D printer, circumventing most federal, state and local government regulatory oversight.
Since 3D printing technology is so new, the legality of the "Wiki Weapon" is nebulous.
According to Dave Kopel of the Independence Institute, it is legal to create pistols, revolvers and rifles at home, although some states have stricter regulations than others. A license isn't required by federal law as long as an inventor isn't selling, sharing or trading the weapon. Also, homemade weapons don't need to be registered with the ATF and are legal to use only by the individual who created the firearms.
However, a fully functional plastic "Wiki Weapon" may be illegal under the auspices of the 1988 Undetectable Firearms Act, passed after Glock produced firearms made with plastic polymers. As a result, all guns sold in the U.S. must contain at least 3.7 ounces of steel.
The 1988 UFA expires in December 2013. If Congress doesn't renew it, expect "Wiki Weapons" to roll off the proverbial drawing board and into holsters.
For more, go to:
-- The Wiki Weapon
-- Download, print, fire: gun rights initiative harnesses 3D technology
-- New 3D Printing Project Aims for Gun Blueprint
-- 'Wiki Weapon Project' Aims To Create A Gun Anyone Can 3D-Print At Home
-- Wiki Weapon project: Make a 3-D printed gun at home
-- Uh-oh! 3D printer produces a real gun
-- Defense Distributed presents the Wiki Weapon Project
-- Print this gun