As public officials continue to debate safety concerns related to 3D-printed guns, a man in Utah recently threatened to carry out a mass school shooting with the weapon.
A 23-year-old man, identified as Austin James David West, was recently charged with making a threat of violence, a class B misdemeanor, after he threatened to commit a mass shooting at a small South Salt Lake school using a gun made from a 3D printer.
According to a Salt Lake County Jail report, West was arrested at his home on Aug. 8 after he talked with another student "about using a gun to shoot students at Broadview University."
"The statements were forwarded to the university, which caused the university dean to be fearful that a school shooting was actually going to take place. An email had to be sent to faculty and students warning them of the threat of a shooting at the school. The school chose to remain open," the report stated.
Moreover, the police also reportedly seized a 3D printer from his house where he lived with his parents.
The search warrant affidavit revealed West sent several texts to a student he has known for several years, saying he would commit a shooting that "people would be talking about."
"The text messages sent by the suspect reference killing people with a 3D printed gun so the gun could not be traced back to him. The message contained images of what appears to be a male in a video holding a rifle while standing over another male that is lying on the ground," the warrant stated.
The law enforcement officers got in touch with the student who received disturbing messages about West’s deadly plan.
"(He) believed Austin has a fascination with firearms and violence. (He) described Austin as being quite interested in serial killers, school shooters and other mass casualty type events. He described Austin as liking up close and personal violence such as wounds caused by a knife," the affidavit stated.
"(He) believed Austin could be capable of committing a mass casualty type event such as a school shooting," it added.
The 23-year-old’s next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 26.
The news regarding West’s threats came as Cody Wilson, owner of Austin-based Defense Distributed, despite a court order extending a ban on releasing online blueprintsfor the 3D guns, recently announced more than 400 orders for his 3D printed gun plans have already been made.
Wilson also added he would allow his clientele to purchase the instructions for 3D-printed guns for whatever dollar amount that they wanted — even as low as a penny.
So, basically, anyone who has an access to a 3D printer can get their hands on the guns, which, due to absence of serial numbers, are untraceable and could make the job of law enforcement officers all-the-more difficult when dealing with potential crimes.
Also, West’s disturbing motives just corroborate the concerns of security experts who believe the technology could put guns in the wrong hands. For instance, people who might be prevented from legally owning a gun, such as felons or even terrorists, would be able to skirt such restrictions by conveniently printing them at home.
Most importantly, at a time when the country is dealing with a string of rage-fueled mass shootings, the last thing it needs is easy access to a device that makes it easier to manufacture guns at home.