Concerns Grow Over 3D Printed Weapons

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – 3D printers are soaring in popularity.

The technology allows basically anyone to print almost anything, but there are growing concerns about people making their own dangerous weapons.

Attorneys General from eight different states are asking a judge to block a Texas man from releasing instructions online on how to 3D print guns.

The website, Defense Distributed, has plans for everything from handguns to semiautomatics.

The attorneys argue it’s a public safety concern.

“There’s clearly some concerns with 3D printed firearms,” said Sioux Falls Police Chief Matt Burns. “Are they going to show up on an x-ray for security purposes? Are they going to show up on a magnetometer, in other words, can they be detected?”

Sioux Falls Police say they haven’t encountered 3D printed weapons in Sioux Falls yet, but with the growing popularity of the technology, they’re keeping an eye out for them.

3D printers work by laying down multiple layers of what’s called filament to build an object, and they can create almost anything.

“I have printed some plastic knives and some gun replicas a little more on the toy side, nothing that would look like an actual gun,” said Will Bushee of Sioux Falls.

Bushee says the ability to create an actual weapon from home is unlikely.

“Your average person is not going to be able to go download and 3D print a gun. I mean for one, the filament that we’re using here that’s just a PLA and that’s never going to survive being shot through with a gun and I don’t think any of the consumer based 3D printers are going to work very well at all, I mean we are really talking about specialty equipment.”

Consumer-based 3D printers are also not likely able to handle the sophistication of printing gun models, it requires more specialized and costly equipment.

But that’s not to say, it can’t be done.

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