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Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing), Gun Control, and Patent Law 380

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-we-outlaw-printers-then-only-outlaws-will-have-printers dept.
retroworks writes "J.D. Tuccille of the conservative think tank Reason Foundation discusses last week's news about the first working 3D-printed gun. According to the original article, the partly plastic '.22-caliber pistol, formed from a 3D-printed AR-15 (M16) lower receiver, and a normal, commercial upper' fired 200 rounds without any sign of wear and tear. Tuccille takes the discovery in the direction of politically topical gun control. '...the development makes it clear that a wide range of bans, restrictions and prohibitions are becoming increasingly unenforcable.' But in my mind, this example of additive-manufacturing technology raises even more questions about patent law enforcement. Will 3D printing be to the Anti-gray-market-alliance what online porn became to neighborhood blue laws?"
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Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing), Gun Control, and Patent Law

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  • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @01:08PM (#40830629)

    I don't get the article. People have been making guns for a while. Making them on forges you could build in your garage. Anyone with a half assed machine shop could build almost anything.

    Then you get guys like this guy [geekosystem.com] that build stuff like the Puzzle Gun.

  • by geoffrobinson (109879) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @01:17PM (#40830775) Homepage

    Reason is libertarian.

  • "Conservative" (Score:4, Informative)

    by Scareduck (177470) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @01:18PM (#40830807) Homepage Journal

    J.D. Tuccille of the conservative think tank Reason Foundation

    You misspelled "libertarian". There is a significant difference.

  • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @01:30PM (#40830955)

    Doing it with a machine shop requires time, skill, and more importantly a machine shop.

    As a guy with a machine shop, rest assured it doesn't require much of the above.

    If you want minimum weight, maximum reliability, all kinds of nifty features including safeties and such, OR if you want to make a precise exact working replica of a historical piece accurate to the tiniest detail, then it takes huge time, skill, and tools.

    But if you're just trying to make what amounts to a short range inaccurate "zip gun" or little more than a shotgun, its trivial, you don't need a "shop". An imaginative plumber can figure something out without a "shop" or gunsmithing skills.

    The AR-15 aspect is important to those who know anything about the law or gunsmithing (I know just enough about both to be dangerous). There is no single part of a gun that screams "gun" so the legal types selected the receiver, which in most guns is a great decision, HOWEVER the AR-15 lower receiver is a not terribly difficult part to make.

    Making a AR-15 lower is pretty easy (well, compared to making a upper, or a barrel). Making a lower is, legally, making a gun. The hard parts to make are everything that bolts onto a lower. Therefore its really easy to "make a AR-15".

    I'm just a hack of a machinist but if I wanted I could easily make a lower on my CNC mill. There is no way in hell, no way, not gonna happen that I could make a barrel from scratch, thats basically impossible for a guy at home. Making a bolt, bolt carrier or chamber would be right around the absolute peak of my skill on my best day in the shop ever.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @01:35PM (#40831031)

    You can make a lower in steel on a mill right now. You could make one from wood, heck even cheap plywood.

    This is not a highly stressed part, nor one that needs to be machined to very high tolerances.

    It will be news when they can 3d print a barrel.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @01:43PM (#40831157)

    You don't because you, along with the rest of Slashdot, live in and pay exclusive attention to, first world countries. This 3D printed gun thing has set off a spate of gun control articles with the attendant hand wringing and claims that people will now be enabled to perpetrate all sorts of violence.

    Meanwhile hundreds of people will be killed this week throughout the middle east and most of Africa with guns that were made in a tent by someone with no formal training in machining, who probably can't read or write, and has never seen even a conventional printer let alone a 3D one. He'll make a dozen AK 47s today and tomorrow and so on until someone kills him or he has to pack up and flee or some similar thing. This has been going on like this for dozens of years. When I was stationed in Africa the bulk of AKs we recovered after fights were made in part or often in whole, in country in the manner described above. An important factor in the design of the AK was that it could be made that way.

    But continue on fretting someone printing an AR lower.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @01:46PM (#40831195)

    No it doesn't. It raises the question.

  • by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @01:56PM (#40831355)

    Um, those assault weapons that flood into Mexico for their drug war are being sent there by our very own ATF for the purpose of ???

    Wrong, the ATF didn't send any weapons to Mexico. What they did was try to track a few of the hundreds of thousands of guns purchased every year by individuals with suspicious purchasing patterns. They couldn't track all of them, and some of them in fact ended up being smuggled to mexico or were otherwise used in crimes. That is the "scandal." There would be no scandal if they hadn't bothered trying to track the guns in the first place. It's hard to imagine what an individual who is not a dealer might be doing purchasing hundreds of guns per year, yet that is perfectly legal (just as the NRA likes it) until/unless you later commit a crime with them. Now that the interdiction has become a political football, the flow of guns to Mexico continues as before with, at best, low-level individual purchasers being caught.

  • Re:Already happening (Score:4, Informative)

    by Smidge204 (605297) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @02:12PM (#40831593) Journal

    You can't prevent someone from building a patented device themselves NOW. Never could. What you CAN do - if you catch them - is take them to court over selling them.

    The digital design/model files are on the same shelf as digital music and movie files. They are not patented but copyrighted - and we have lots of (heavy-handed, often draconian) tools for dealing distribution of copyrighted materials. And just like with digital music and movies, there is nothing you can do to really prevent trading them either.

    In short: 3D printing just lowers the bar for what has always been possible. Content producers will have to either adapt to a new market environment or double down on the draconian idiocy. No point for guessing which path they choose.
    =Smidge=

  • Re:Why like that? (Score:4, Informative)

    by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @02:46PM (#40832179)
    Your feelings about these things are not borne out by facts. Thirty years ago concealed carry was illegal in most of the US. One by one states started to enable concealed carry, most setting up 'shall issue' systems that would give licenses to anybody without a criminal record without question. Despite the gun control lobby whinging in every state about how this would cause 'shootouts in the streets!' it never happened. Now the US allows concealed carry in more than 80% of states, and in EVERY state with shall issue concealed carry, violent crime has either stayed the same or gone down since the law went into effect.

    Turns out, people aren't the impulsive idiots you take them to be. There are more people carrying guns regularly in the US than ever before, and violent crime has been on a fairly steady down slope for the better part of the last half century. Reality just doesn't agree with the paranoid intuition of gun control advocates.

"You don't go out and kick a mad dog. If you have a mad dog with rabies, you take a gun and shoot him." -- Pat Robertson, TV Evangelist, about Muammar Kadhafy

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