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Wednesday, October 22, 2014 | Last updated: 8:47pm

Getting a gun may soon be as easy as downloading music



Guns might soon be more accessible than ever.

It’s a frightening thought, given recent events. The most striking was when James Holmes allegedly opened fire in a crowded movie theater in Aurora, Colo., killing 12 and injuring dozens more.

About a month ago in Oak Creek, Wis., Wade Michael Page allegedly killed six people at a Sikh temple.

And just a few weeks ago, on Aug. 27, Robert Gladden, Jr. allegedly shot a fellow student at Perry Hall High School in Baltimore.

In fact, it seems like the country can hardly go more than a couple weeks without someone firing a gun off into a crowd, and no community can understand the fear in the wake of such an incident better than Tucson. Since Gabrielle Giffords was shot and six people killed on Jan. 8, 2011, Tucson continues to feel the impact of every gun-related attack.

Now with the advancements of 3D printing, people will be able to literally print out the components required to construct a firearm.

According to CNET writer Rich Brown, anyone can buy a 3D printer for around $500. For $50, they can buy the ABS printing plastic required for their weapon, and .38 special ammunition is about 30 cents a round at many retailers.

That may sound pricey, but it would be worth the cost to avoid having to register a weapon, and a metal detector isn’t going to uncover something made of plastic.

To make matters worse, the files required for this kind of weapon-printing will be as readily available as most music is on the Internet. Ever download an MP3 file? It’s pretty easy, and getting files for gun printing won’t be any more difficult.

For now the only saving grace is that the plastics used for most 3D printing isn’t strong enough to withstand the force generated from firing the weapon, but groups like Defense Distributed are aiming to work around that to make functioning firearms ­— and at the rate technology develops, it can’t be that long before they succeed.

What further complicates the situation is that 3D gun printing goes beyond the Second Amendment or any other gun related arguments. Now that the Internet is involved it’s a matter of First Amendment rights.

If people can post any number of dangerous or inappropriate materials online, why would these files be any different? But can the government afford to allow such easy access to firearms? Will the government even be able to stop the files from showing up all over the Internet in the first place?
These questions will most certainly need answers, sooner rather than later.

Of course, it’s still illegal to actually manufacture a weapon in this way, but since when has an act’s illegality ever stopped criminals?

Many will be quick to jump up and say gun control needs to be more strict — but then the rest will shout about how that doesn’t solve anything. They’re probably right, too. A year ago I might have agreed and said that if the government outlawed most firearms the U.S. would be more safe, but these 3D printers changed that.

Granted, there are a multitude of methods a person can employ to get a fire arm illegally that some might say are easier, but adding another to the list certainly makes things worse. Even though the technology isn’t quite there yet, it’s on the verge.

With the advancement of technology comes the proliferation of information. As the world has seen many times in the past, it’s been a blessing and curse, and this is another example of the latter.
As for how to make this problem go away, that’s impossible. The situation is now twice as complex and could very well never be solved effectively by anyone.

Perhaps instead of taking the guns away from citizens, everyone should be given a firearm instead. In a few years that might be the reality we live in anyway.

— Jason Krell is the copy chief for the Arizona Daily Wildcat. He can be reached at
letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @Jason_Krell.


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