The Misconceptions Surrounding “3D Printed Death”

Photo courtesy of Jay Rembert, via

As many students at Carrboro know, having access to firearms poses some serious implications. Communities across the world are familiar with the tragic effects of firearms in the hands of wicked individuals. Many are uncomfortable with the prospect of 3D printed guns, yet the worry involved has been taken out of proportion. 3D printed guns do pose some threats but are still nowhere near as dangerous as the guns people can legally obtain today.

3D printed firearms have not existed until 2013 when the first plans for the Liberator model, a single-shot pistol, were released. Later that year a licensed gunsmith built the Liberator from its original online plans. Though in principle 3d printed guns can be a serious threat, they are not contributing to any gun violence in America. 3D printed guns have unfortunately raised mass hysteria which is largely unnecessary.

During the first test, the gun shattered. The following year a Japanese man, Yoshitomo Imura, created five copies of the Liberator but chambered them all in 9mm rounds. The 9mm round is much smaller than the .38 caliber like the original copy but is still quite lethal. The guns chambered in 9mm rounds are believed to be the first working copies of the weapon. The creators of those copies posted videos of them successfully firing several rounds but was arrested by authorities the following month. The justice department cited that only two of the five guns possessed lethal capabilities.

The Liberator is currently the most seriously considered 3D printed firearm because of its simplicity. While there are semi-automatic 3D printed guns in existence, they are not feasible without many actual gun parts taken from real firearms such as the AR-15.

By the point that someone would go through the trouble to buy all the parts needed for a 3D-printed assault weapon, they could just go buy an AR-15 since in most states all you need is a driver’s license verifying you’re over 18. AR-15s are a much more real threat than homemade guns because of their availability.

Around half of all guns in the country are unregistered meaning it would be just as hard to connect most guns to crime as it would be if someone were using a 3D printed Liberator or similar models. 

The real reason that 3D-printed guns such as the Liberator are ineffective and why there have been no homicidal incidents involving a 3D-printed gun is because of their terrible functionality. Nobody wants to commit a crime with a gun that can fire a single round about every fifteen to thirty seconds and could potentially blow up in their face at any moment. On top of that 3D-printed guns require an advanced 3D printer to make its parts with a certain degree of quality. 

The panic over 3D printed guns has been widely blown out of proportion. In this instance, without the facts the panic is justifiable but in context, this is no longer the case. With instances such as these, it is important to understand what the truth about the matter is before anyone develops radical opinions that are based on nothing but speculation.