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Futurist: The Problem With 3d Printers Is Ghost Guns.

I am a parent, futurist, and technologist. My career has spanned the birth of personal computers to the rise of cloud computing.

I don't want big brother watching as I use my 3d printer.

I don't want big brother watching as I use my 3d printer.

I don't have a solution. But I do see a huge problem.

As a futurist, I have mentioned many times that I think the invention of and use of 3d printers is interesting. There are three in one 3D printers or modular 3D printers that allow you to do CNC carving, laser engraving, and 3D printing. Some 3d printers will enable you to do multiple colors of plastic and print. There are concrete 3D printers that can pour the house's foundation. Or, for that matter, build the entire house. There are metal 3D printers used in the aerospace industry to print parts for satellites. The value proposition of a 3D printer is the ability to prototype an idea very quickly. You don't have to build a model, then in building a model and tweaking it send it off to be manufactured, and wait for it to be returned and tested. Instead, you can print, try, and reconfigure the designed solution. It allows for the concept of rapid prototyping. But today, I want to talk about a problem within the 3D printing world.

The concept or problem area is that of something called a ghost gun. Ghost guns are 3D-printed guns. Originally they fired a single shot. Most of the early ghost guns were single-shot. Recently I've seen 3D-printed guns used in various television shows that fire more than one shot. But the reality is a ghost gun is not traceable. It is Iuntraceable because a ghost gun is used and then discarded. Unlike a traditional firearm, you have to purchase or get on the black market that may or may not have a serial number or have a serial number filed off it. The United States and other entities globally have groups within the governments that manage and control the creation, building, and selling of guns. Some countries do an exceptionally good job. Some countries do an average to poor job. But most governments today force the registration of guns and gun ownership. A ghost gun does not have a serial number, is made of plastic, was harder to detect in metal detectors. Ultimately, the only way you can track it is by the striations on the bullet as it leaves the gun's barrel. That means you can only follow a ghost gun after it has discharged. Since most are used and thrown away, that model becomes useless.

I suspect if we look at the world around us today, the ability to print the gun to aid in a social uprising against an unjust government scenario might be considered a good thing. Well, let's rephrase that Ghost Guns used in an uprising somewhere else might be a good thing depending on where you live. But, the reality is that people who print ghost guns mostly aren't revolutionaries. They are looking to skirt the law. It is an unfortunate application of the cool technology of 3D printing. I look at the reality of ghost guns and that they aren't the only product of 3D printers. I've owned the 3D printer for more than five years, and I've never printed a ghost gun, nor would I ever do so. But I know that many governments are considering ways to limit and ban ghost guns. That makes me nervous. Because the only way to effectively eradicate those guns would be to restrict the purchase of 3D printers, I think that's a bad idea overall. But, I understand why governments would head down the path of limiting the technology as, unfortunately, technologies do present risks. Another option is to create a tagging system that would be a part of every 3d printer. Every print would have a tiny chip embedded in the output to identify who printed it. But, that would be expensive to implement.

My father used always said you can't legislate morality. He meant that when you're in a situation where ethical behavior requires codification, you run significant risks. Because ultimately, people that want to use ghost guns for the wrong reasons aren't going to care that they are legal or illegal. I do understand why governments would consider limiting ghost guns. They could be very dangerous as more and more 3D printers are in the world.

The value of 3d printers is huge. I hope bad actors don't ruin it for the rest of us.

The value of 3d printers is huge. I hope bad actors don't ruin it for the rest of us.

I am not calling for gun control or a limit to 3d printers. But I have to wonder....

Ghost guns depending upon the speed of your 3D printer can take anywhere from 4 to 24 hours or longer. A more experienced 3D printer would not have an issue downloading the STL file; the STL is the standard format of shared 3D images. You then convert to whatever model your printer uses. For example, I have a Snapmaker at home, and it uses G code. You open the STL file in the software the printer company provides, in my case, Snapmaker, and then it automatically converts it into an image or a print readout you can send to the printer. I can say that nobody has a ghost gun available in all the 3D imaging and model places I frequent. But I don't do some of the more risky 3D printing sites. I'm sure if I went to some of the more difficult black market or dark web 3D printing sites, there are several different varieties of ghost guns you can download.

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I am not anti-gun ownership. I fired a gun myself many times. I do not think guns are the problem. I guess ghost guns are a special category within firearms that are more dangerous. But I don't think guns are the problem. My article today is not me saying ban guns. I do believe military-style weapons should not be available for civilian use. A military-style weapon is any weapon that fires many shots in a very short period. Sometimes called assault rifles. I don't see a need for assault rifles. I don't know anyone who hunts that uses an assault rifle, so having a ban on assault weapons would be a good thing. I do, however, see the value in people owning guns. If it is something they like to do, they hunt. So this is not me, for those of my readers in the United States attacking the second amendment.

Honestly, I wish that people would understand the historical context of the Constitution of the United States. The Ratification of the Constitution came around ten years after the end of the revolutionary war. The United States was a fledgling country between two wars with a much greater military force in Great Britain. The Constitution of the 2nd amendment made it legal to have guns in every home. At that time, many people hunted to put food on the table for their families. The weapons legalized in the 2nd amendment were not military weapons. They fired with a great muzzle loader four times in a minute. Now you can buy a gun that fires 100 rounds in a minute, and it does not require any level of expertise other than point-and-shoot. Ghost guns bring that even more to the forefront. Now you don't even have to go and get a background check or anything else your state requires to own a gun. So you have a weapon that is hard to detect. Ghost Guns don't have serial numbers. You can, to a degree, trace a ghost gun after firing. But every ghost gun printed on that specific 3d printer will have the same barrel rifling. If the person makes ten ghost guns, they will all have the same barrel striation. You're likely to use it once and dispose of it; it probably would never be traceable. A ghost gun has less rifling in the barrel and therefore less accuracy, making it much harder to use.

In fairness, I am a huge fan of 3D printers. I think what they bring to the world will be incredible in the future. However, I wonder if there isn't a better way to manage and control the concept of ghost guns. I wish I had an easy answer to the problem I raised today, but sadly I do not. It is a difficult problem and probably will worsen before it gets better. Again I'm a huge advocate for 3D printers, and I do not believe that we should limit the guidance used for hunting by people that hot. People do something that they like and should be allowed. I wish I saw a future where there were no ghost guns.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2022 DocAndersen

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