Sunday, May 3, 2015

Technology against safe zones

I have several acquaintances in the "makers" world. I'm considering, for several prototypes, going there myself. And I'm realizing something.

It used to be that a certain percentage of the population was able to do things that could be extremely illegal. Locksmiths, for example, could open broken safes... but also intact ones. Ironsmiths knew perfectly well how to make functional daggers outside legal limits. Good machinists could build guns.

But they were few, their jobs had a certain pride that going rogue would rob them. Some tools were quite expensive, and required very specific attention.

Enter desktop CNC and 3D printing. Some days ago, a broken child killed a teacher with a crossbow, nearby. Given a couple of years, a more affluent background, and he could have shot a dozen. And the affluent requirement is becoming obsolete by the week.

I used to say that, for SD purposes, you could basically discount firearms where I live. While there are some, they were not found in common crimes, but mostly in already criminal surroundings (don't get upset if you're buying drugs for a dozen people and the guy's surrounded by guns).

Not any longer. Governments will try to regulate. And fail. Because, yes, after the fact it becomes obvious that I had a gun I shouldn't, and I get some extra years thrown into the verdict. But meanwhile? In the States, I can't sell a firearm I made with my CNC, but... weapons are defined pretty narrowly, by a single part of the firing mechanism[*].

It has implications in other places, too, economically (and artistically! Napster is coming to sculpture), but this is not the place.

But if you live in places where weapons are regulated and the regulation tends to hold... start thinking what happens when it doesn't. When a criminal can set up shop with a 500 bucks 3D printing machine and print weapons that may only be good for half a dozen shots, but that's more than enough to kill you. When a hobbyist teaches things to her cousin and it turns out that the cousin is broken inside. When...

It's not going to happen often. But when it does, expect the media to go full throttle on it. And, in any case, just be aware that your traditional "safe" spaces just got downgraded, hard.

Take care.

[*]can't recall which. In Spain, it's basically the barrel: guns are "deactivated" by drilling holes in it, but the rest of the gun is still functional, if you don't fancy your hand.


technogypsy said...

Well, can't sell legally in the US but even that is iffy. There is some evidence from that if you were to rent some the machine and the software, it would be legal.

And that barrel thing: it's silly because it only takes a pipe to replace it. No rifling, but do you need that at robbery distances?

shugyosha said...

At 500$ a printer, and falling, do you need to sell anything?

Or even, go to a printing service and print everything BUT the mechanism. Anyone asks, it's a prop. you can even leave some obstruction in the barrel. Then print the mechanism somewhere else.

The part on Spanish law is a tad more iffy. I'm not aware that the law expressly mentions any part of the weapon as THE weapon. But the fact remains that the serial number is where it is, that if you want to "destroy" a weapon, it's done by drilling holes in the barrel.

Take care.