Jamaican authorities and legislators are being warned to pay close attention to developments in the United States about the controversial 3D blueprints which can be used to manufacture firearms.
Both local and overseas experts have acknowledged that the technology is advancing and it's just a matter of time before Jamaica becomes engulfed in the issue.
Just Tuesday a US Federal judge issued an injunction to prevent the publication of blueprints for 3D-printed guns.
The blueprints can be used with special printers and certain plastics or metal to manufacture the instruments capable of discharging live rounds. This has polarised Americans but the concern has now arisen that, with rapidly changing technology, those weapons can be easily created in Jamaica which already has a significant gun problem.
Erica Simmons, Executive Director of the Dr. Andrew Wheatley Centre for Digital Innovation at the Caribbean Maritime University, argues that the technology is improving rapidly so it's becoming easier to create the firearms in several countries.
Speaking Tuesday on RJR’s Beyond the Headlines, she urged Jamaican legislators to be proactive and take the steps to deal with the issue before it becomes a problem here, with the pace of technology “really, really moving at an exponential pace right now.”
“If this is an issue that we are going to face and we find it very important, then we should at this point start to talk about what we are going to do, and start having the debate now,” she said.
The Jamaican authorities have indeed acknowledged the risks posed by the emerging technology, with Paul Henry, Director of Protective Security in the Ministry of National Security, revealing that some steps have been taken in anticipation of the challenges that could arise.
These preemptive steps include pending amendments to the Firearms Act, “which is currently being reviewed.”
Henry, also speaking on Beyond the Headlines, the amendments will not only take into account the current state of the 3D printing technology, which uses plastics, but also future use of metals as the technology develops.
In a related development late on Tuesday, A US federal judge in Seattle blocked the release of software that allows consumers to 3D-print firearms.
Gun access advocacy group Defense Distributed published downloadable gun blueprints five days early on Friday.
The firm had reached a settlement with the Trump administration in June to allow it to legally publish the plans.
But eight states and the District of Columbia sued the government on Monday to block the settlement, arguing the untraceable guns were a safety risk.