Published in El Pais, 7 August 2018.
What came first the technology or the law? Every time a ground-breaking technology comes out governments scramble to keep such as Uber, Airbnb, and internet piracy. Usually it can take a few years at best with many still having problems with the first two. However, this time governments seem to have a head start, and they need to take advantage of this window as many lives are at stake.
A few years ago, Cody Wilson successfully designed and printed out a working hand gun. The potential here is that anyone with the right printer can download and print their own gun. No background checks, no waiting period. It’s that easy. Thankfully the US federal government had stopped the plans from being released into the public, but President Trump seems to be taking a different approach, willing to allow the plans to be released after all. Again, thankfully governments from various states are stepping in, filing lawsuits to stop the plans and they are still not available to download. This of course has worldwide implications and governments need to be proactive to limit the damage.
As mentioned early this is one of the few occasions where governments have a head start. Firstly, it is my understanding that not any old 3D printer will work, only high-end printers costing as much as $10,000. Secondly, the gun is considered of low quality and can only be fired a few times. Essentially it is still not a practical way to acquire a weapon but as history shows us technology always gets cheaper and it may not be long before these elite printers become accessible to the everyday consumer.
I am not so naive as to think that a signed piece of legislation will prevent all deaths caused by this gun, but I certainly believed it can lessen the impact. Hopefully leaders of the world will take note and not waste the precious time that has been given to them.
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