One of the hottest topics lately is the issue of the ghost gun. These are generic firearms that have been created using a 3D printer, thus allowing them to bypass identifiers (such as serial numbers) that would normally be present in regular weapons – and legally imposed controls. In theory, such an item allows someone the use of a firearm without things such as waiting periods, permits, and similar laws – all in a matter of hours, not days. The idea that life and death could be easily dispensed of to any and all takers has gotten many individuals weighing in on the matter.
But why would people need such a thing?
Historically, people have always turned to weapons as the fastest way to gain an advantage against everyone else. While some uses of firearms have been legalized in order to maintain an institution’s control over population groups (such as the military, law enforcement, and similar agencies), others have had less scrupulous reasons to do so. Whether its to cover up a less-than-legal activity, multiply force and power across an area, or otherwise protect oneself from external factors due to a perceived lack of protection, firearms (and their predecessors) have always played a constant role in human history.
But while people desired the gun, they’ve also feared others possessing it – possibly rightly so. Whether their reasons are right or wrong is entirely up for debate. What is relevant is that governments and organizations have tried to limit access for some while allowing others to use these items for various agendas. Some are legal (defining what a firearm is and isn’t is one), some are economic (tax stamps and permit costs), and some are bureaucratic in nature (only selected groups can own a set number).
Which brings us to the topic of ghost guns: for a much lower cost (and much less paperwork) than what is on the market, one can access the power of the gun with much lower responsibility. Suddenly, all of the controls accumulated over years of existence get thrown out the window, leaving people reliant only on sharing whatever moral code they hope the weapon’s wielders possess.
The easiest way to dissuade people from getting a ghost gun is a pretty simple one: provide an environment where they feel safe enough not to need one at all. Guns are often used as influence and economic levers – making them irrelevant (while pushing up the penalties thereof) takes them off the table as an option. At the end of the day, people are more likely to use it to posture rather than to kill – unless they have been specifically trained to do so.
But what if you can’t do so? Then you have to come to grips with the idea that they exist and that its a matter of when – not if – you encounter them in your life. There will always be some kind of control placed by governing bodies to regulate their creation and use, whether it be preventing the spread of their schematics or limiting what units can print such things. The genie, however, is already out of the bottle – and it’s not going back any time soon.
Of course, you could always regulate the sale of bullets – at least, until they figure out how to 3D print those. I expect that to happen in the next 5 years or so, to be honest.