The estimated total number of guns held by civilians in the United States is 270,000,000. Cody Wilson's invention could increase that number.
Wilson wants to create a gun users can make at home. More specifically, he wants to create the world’s first printable gun that can be downloaded via the Internet and built using a 3-D printer, according to Forbes' Andy Greenberg.
Greenberg spoke with Wilson about the seemingly impossible idea dreamed up by Wilson and his friends. They call themselves "Defense Distributed" and call their campaign the “Wiki Weapon Project.”
“We want to show this principle: That a handgun is printable,” the 24-year-old University of Texas law student told Forbes. “You don’t need to be able to put 200 rounds through it…It only has to fire once. But even if the design is a little unworkable, it doesn’t matter, as long as it has that guarantee of lethality.”
Defense Distributed's Wiki Weapon Project is seeking to raise $20,000 to design and release blueprints for the downloadable gun. About $10,000 would go toward renting or buying a Stratysys 3-D printer, and $1,000 to $2,000 would go to the person with the winning design, according to the website. They need to come up with a final design and adapt it to cheaper printers before the project is complete.
Though the thought of 3-D printing sounds like something out of a science-fiction film, it's a reality that's slowly becoming more accessible to the masses. Mashable details how 3-D printing works: a 3-D object is designed with software, the design is sent to the printer, a printing material is selected, the print creates the object layer by layer and a product is made. This process can revolutionize commerce with the production of rubber, hard plastic, polyurethane-like, or temperature-resistant materials.
But can a workable firearm really be made from a 3-D printer? Michael Guslick says it can be done.
Guslick, an amateur gunsmith and firearm enthusiast, claims he used a 3-D printer to make a functional semiautomatic AR-15 rifle at home.
"Firearms manufacturers have been doing exactly that for prototyping and testing for many years, and I'm certain many hobbyists have used 3-D printed gun parts as well," he told The Huffington Post's Dominique Mosbergen earlier this month.
Even Guslick said that the ability to print and build a functional handgun in one's home raises legal issues and the potential for some disturbing scenarios.
"Yes, though such tools are equally available to criminals as well, I cannot foresee criminals turning to 3-D printing as an avenue to obtain illicit arms when the black market continues to serve as a far simpler means of acquisition -- and does not require any level of technical acumen," he told HuffPost.
However, in the wake of recent U.S. tragedies such as Friday's Empire State Building shooting, the Wisconsin Sikh Temple shooting and the Aurora, Colo., theater shooting, the possibility of homemade guns can be quite frightening.
After the Aurora shooting, President Barack Obama spoke about gun control in the U.S. Although Obama has not promoted dissolving the Second Amendment altogether, he might be in favor of of reinstating the ban on assault weapons that was previously in place from 1994 to 2004, according to The Atlantic Wire.
“I, like most Americans, believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms,” Obama said in late July. “But I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals — that they belong on the battlefields of war and not on the streets of our cities.”
Although the National Institue of Justice reports that gun-related homicides hit a peak back in 1993 and has since dropped, "in 2005, 11,346 persons were killed by firearm violence and 477,040 persons were victims of a crime committed with a firearm. Most murders in the United States are committed with firearms, especially handguns."
On the Defense Distributed's official website, the group emphasizes how the "Wiki Weapons Project" will revolutionize gun control in the U.S.
"This project could very well change the way we think about gun control and consumption," writes Defense Distributed about its DIY gun. "How do governments behave if they must one day operate on the assumption that any and every citizen has near instant access to a firearm through the Internet? Let’s find out."