ATF Tests 3D-Printed Guns, Finds They Go "Bang"

3D-printed Liberator handgunPerhaps a little late to the game, the
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has joined its
counterparts in
Austria, Germany, and elsewhere
in purchasing 3D printers to
see what this fuss about what Reason’s Brian Doherty calls
unstoppable plastic gun
” is about. Like everybody else, the
folks at the all-you-need-is-a band-and-it’s-a-party agency
discovered that 3D-printed guns do, in fact, go bang, though
whether they do so in the intended way depends on the material you
use to build them.

The ATF chose the Liberator, the first successfully fired model,
to test. Innovators have since moved on to
, and even a
Model 1911 printed from stainless steel

Videos posted online on the ATF’s YouTube channel (yes, really)
show a Liberator built from ABS plastic firing without drama, while
a model printed in translucent VisiJet
shatters in spectacular fashion
. (Pro tip: Don’t use VisiJet
when printing your own gun.)

A helpful
fact sheet
posted online promises that “ATF makes every effort
to keep abreast of novel firearms technology and firearms
trafficking schemes.” It also outlines the strict regulations
governing firearms manufacture and sale and vows that “ATF
investigates any cases in which technological advances allow
individuals to avoid complying with these laws.”

Of course, the whole advantage of 3D printing technology, and
other innovations that enable DIY manufacture of restricted and
forbidden objects, is that they render the law largely
unenforceable, since the activity takes place away from officious
eyes. You can put any statute you want on the books, but there’s
not much you can do to regulate what goes on in home workshops.

Which is why the Department of Homeland Security has
pronounced 3D-printed guns “impossible” to control

from Hit & Run

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