I have been watching the development of the home fabrication movement out of cursory interest, and though that the original case showing a guy “print” and later fire a handgun was interesting.
Well today my newsfeed brought me an update:
The article is interesting, as is the legal confluence of the 1st & 2nd amendments in this.
But for debate?
This will make gun control even harder. Per the article you can get a machine for under $2k, and download the specs to make your own firearms. It is only going to get easier, and that will make it even harder for government to control the supply of firearms.
Someone is going to download a bad file and create a firearm that blows up in their face. Liability is going to be tough.
3D printed guns are not relevant, and will never be relevant. Yes, it’s possible to 3D print a gun, but materials which are 3D printable are very poorly suited for gun-making. Even the best designs available are still likely to blow up in the user’s face, especially after multiple firings. It’s far easier, cheaper, and more reliable to mill a gun than to print one, and this is true for amateurs and professionals alike. Which, no doubt, is why real gun manufacturers make guns by milling.
Hobbyist milling machines already exist, and people already have them. And I’m sure that plans also already exist for making guns using those machines, though I’ve never actually gone looking for them. They’re not economical if your intent is just to make a small number of guns, but then, that’s even more true of a 3D printer capable of making a gun.
Gun control in the US will never ban all guns, because the world sucks. You could in a magical theoretical world indeed be required to get a license, registration, and insurance for your gun, with accompanying tests and such; in such a fantasy land it might be necessary to present a valid license to purchase ammo.
By which we mean criminals would still get their hands on it easily, because obviously.
I think a lot of times conservatives underestimate convenience as a gentle but effective behavior modifier. If you had to buy a 3d printer and download plans and assemble a gun in order to get one, that might eliminate a fair number of gun deaths.
Would they not be useful for some kind of one-off assassination attempt or something? I agree though why would you spend the money on the printer when you could take that some money and by a reliable, well-made AR-15.
I’m not saying that ammunition is unavailable here – of course it’s available. I’m saying that purchases are regulated and tracked. The point being that if one instituted gun control, one could restrict purchases of ammo by the same means that guns are restricted, so that if you were prohibited from owning a gun you could also be prohibited from buying ammo, which kind of negates the value of building your own gun.
Almost any kind of dangerous thing can be made at home, given enough effort. But with every additional obstacle it becomes less likely that some random lunatic will attempt or succeed in all the necessary steps, and it also increases the exposure whereby suspicious purchases can be detected.
*Winkleman has placed the lower receiver of an AR-15, the component that serves as the core frame of the rifle, on a granite table that’s been calibrated to be perfectly flat to one ten-thousandth of an inch. Then he places a Mitutoyo height gauge—a thin metal probe that slides up and down on a tall metal stand and measures vertical distances—next to it, poking one edge of the frame with its probe to get a baseline reading of its position. “This is where we get down to the nitty gritty,” Winkleman says. “Or, as we call it, the gnat’s ass.”
Winkleman then slowly rotates the gauge’s rotary handle to move its probe down to the edge of a tiny hole on the side of the gun’s frame. After a couple careful taps, the tool’s display reads 0.4775 inches. He has just measured a single line—one of the countless dimensions that define the shape of any of the dozens of component of an AR-15—with four decimal places of accuracy.
…One room over, Wilson shows me the most impressive new toy in the group’s digitization toolkit, one that arrived just three days earlier: A room-sized analog artifact known as an optical comparator. The device, which he bought used for $32,000*,
Can I assume there will now be a run on granite table tops and Mitutoyo height gauges that measures to four decimal places, in addition to optical comparators?
Oh, wait, there’s more -
Turning physical guns into digital files, instead of vice-versa, is a new trick for Defense Distributed. While Wilson’s organization first gained notoriety for its invention of the first 3-D printable gun, what it called the Liberator, it has since largely moved past 3-D printing. Most of the company’s operations are now focused on its core business: making and selling a consumer-grade computer-controlled milling machine known as the Ghost Gunner, designed to allow its owner to carve gun parts out of far more durable aluminum.
It’s the Ghost Gunners, not the Liberator, which mostly sells for $1,675.
Since mills and lathes can also produce firearms. Will the government now require that everyone with a mill, or a lathe, be required to register as a firearms manufacturer, and submit to annual inspections by the BATFE?
And why has Defense Distributed “largely moved past 3-D printing” of firearms? Is it because nylon/polyvinyl chloride/plastic firearms don’t work very well, and are more dangerous to the shooter than the target? It’s still far easier to buy fireworks, pressure cookers, and timers for building bombs.
I’m interested in reading the terms of the settlement. The Second Amendment Foundation was assisting with the lawsuit. SAF press release states(my bold):
Since ITAR was the basis for the prior restraint, and ITAR deals with military related technologies, among other things, I’m not clear on the scope of the acknowledgment that rifles like the AR-15 are not inherently military, or if that is even an accurate interpretation. I can’t seem to locate the text of the settlement either.