Commentary: Why libraries should start public talks on 3D-printed guns –

As technology continues to play a more significant role in our daily lives, what role does the academic library play? Although libraries provide critical and meaningful educational opportunities, they can also educate people about the ways in which technology can be used for illicit purposes, such as printing guns that are then circulated in underground markets.

The use of 3D printers for the creation of mechanical components, including weapons creation, will only continue to expand. As hubs for technological innovation, universities and their libraries must advance policy development to address the potential campus risks created by providing access to these new technologies. Investment in and attention to policy development must be collaborative, and equal the energy invested in research and development of these technologies.

The Texas nonprofit Defense Distributed recently made specifications for 3D-printed guns available through its website. Many gun rights advocates question the level of concern that has emerged from the public surrounding this issue, arguing that 3D-printed guns fall apart after only a few shots and that access to 3D printer technology is expensive and unreliable, therefore unlikely to be acquired for the sole purpose of producing weapons.

RELATED: Austin man says he’s selling 3D-printer gun plans despite court order.

These arguments fail to address the systemic and emerging complexity of access to — and use of — guns.

Many public and private universities provide access to state-of-the-art 3D printing technology, much of which is accessible 24 hours a day in largely unsupervised or peer-supervised environments. Departmental labs, campus libraries, student centers and even dorms are all access points for 3D printer technology. Printing the components of a 3D gun can be accomplished with relative ease in many of these environments.

EDITORIAL: Homemade 3D printer guns should be regulated like any gun.

The argument that 3D printer

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