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Are 3D-Printed Guns a Threat?

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When the instructions for making a 3D-printed gun were released on an internet open source platform, there was widespread concern that it would pose a credible security threat to the general public. If you can simply purchase a 3D printer and print yourself a practically untraceable gun, what’s stopping criminals from using this technology for nefarious purposes? 

Well, it turns out, these homemade plastic guns aren’t the sturdiest things, to begin with. Some experts say that even the most high-quality 3D-printed guns out there may only fire several shots before blowing up in the user’s hand. Most of them, though, wouldn’t even be successful in firing a single bullet. 

Most consumer 3D printers are capable of producing some pretty neat stuff, but when it comes to quality, it is common to see a variety of glitches that can cause defects in the items being made. Defects, incorrect measurements, and flaws are all too familiar, and when it comes to a firearm, there simply isn’t any room for error if it is to work properly. 

When it comes to real firearms, manufacturers put them through rigorous testing to ensure it works properly. However, with 3D-printed guns, there is rarely any testing or quality standards to ensure the firearm works correctly. This often results in the threat of a 3D-printed gun being greater for the user than it is for anyone else. 

Despite this, there is still a growing concern over the safety of 3D-printed firearms. One particularly troubling aspect is the fact that they are essentially untraceable, unlike traditional firearms that have serial numbers and usually have a paper trail between the manufacturer and each owner. Another is the fact that making a 3D-printed gun does not require a background check. 

While the core idea that essentially anyone can make a 3D-printed gun is an alarming thought, those who are poised to use a firearm for illegal purposes or violent activity would have to go through quite the hassle to purchase an expensive printer, download schematics, buy materials, then print the firearm. 

3D printing technology has come a long way, and emerging advances could allow for 3D-printed firearms to progress to a point where they are made at much higher levels of quality. However, this is only being seen in research labs using cutting edge equipment that has not yet made its way to the masses. Until then, US legislators have proposed regulations to limit any future danger in 3D-printing guns, though none have yet to pass. 

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