Early last week, Cody Wilson of Defense Distributed realized his dream of a fully 3D printed gun with the Liberator - a handgun that can fire a single bullet. The blueprints for the Liberator were taken down by the government four days later, but those determined to 3D print a gun can still access the files. That's exactly what two British journalists did over the weekend.
The Daily Mail's Simon Murphy and Russel Myers created the Liberator on Friday, and then attempted to sneak it on board on an Eurostar train from London to Paris. Surprisingly, the two smuggled the gun on board the train without being stopped.
Of course, they couldn't just carry the full gun through security checkpoints with them. Murphy and Meyers split the 3D printed gun into three separate pieces, and then hid those pieces in their clothing. They walked through the metal detector without setting it off, and were never subjected to a pat down. It should be noted that the two men didn't smuggle bullets or the firing pin on board, but such small metal objects can be easily concealed when going through security checkpoints.
Once they were on board the train, they assembled the gun in less than 30 seconds. Afterwards, the two began to take pictures of themselves holding the gun next to other passengers. Said fellow passengers were none the wiser.
After their little adventure, Murphy and Meyers alerted UK politicians and security experts about the potential for people to smuggle 3D printed weapons on board public transportation. As expected, both groups expressed shock and concern. Former Labor security minister Lord West said that security checks need to be improved so they can detect 3D printed and other undetectable weapons.
The above scenario was a single test on a single train line. It will be interesting to see if anybody else tries to smuggle the Liberator or any other 3D printed weapon on board other train lines, or even an airplane. I would think that in the U.S., what with the TSA's penchant for pat downs, smuggling the Liberator on board a plan would be especially difficult. Of course, agents would have to know what a disassembled 3D printed gun looks like, and therein lies the potential danger.
People were already scared of 3D printed guns, but this story will probably take everybody's fears to the next level. I wouldn't be surprised if a congressman called for a ban on 3D printers, but we've already talked about how stupid that idea is.[Image: Daily Mail]
UPDATE: Well, that didn't take long. CBS Sacramento reports that California Senator Leland Yee has proposed that 3D printers be regulated, with potential owners having to go through background checks. He seems to not care that most 3D printers can't yet make guns, and that those who do buy industrial 3D printers are probably not making guns. Blanket regulation seems to be the only solution in his eyes because "terrorists can make these guns and do some horrible things to an individual and then walk away scott-free."