A new 3D printing device could make many gun control laws unenforceable by allowing anyone to manufacture his or her own AR-15 semiautomatic rifle at home – at a relatively affordable price.
The Ghost Gunner Computer Controlled (CNC) milling machine sells for $1,300 and can make rifle components from aluminum.
The manufacturer, a non-profit libertarian organization called Defense Distributed, has already sold more than 200 of the milling machines, Wired reported. Defense Distributed leader Cody Wilson claims a person can use the machine to create an AR-15 body with no expertise and no serial numbers – in other words, a gun that is untraceable.
“People want this machine,” Wilson told Wired. “People want the battle rifle and the comfort of replicability, and the privacy component. They want it, and they’re buying it.”
How the Ghost Gunner Works
The Ghost Gunner is actually a general purpose CNC mill which can automatically carve metal in three dimensions. A person puts a block of metal into the machine, and then it carves it out following a pattern programmed into a computer.
Currently, the Gunner carves the lower receiver of an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle (the civilian version of the M-16) out of aluminum. Wilson specifically designed the device to get around gun control laws. The user would still have to order the others parts, but those are easily found online or in gun shops.
The Ghost Gunner is unlike Wilson’s last 3D printing effort in which he made the plans for a plastic gun called the Liberator printer available online. The plans were downloaded 100,000 times before they were taken down by the US State Department. The machine he made for that one cost around $8,000.
Cheaper and More Accessible
It is also far cheaper than Solid Concepts’ 3D printed Colt 45 pistol, the first 3D printed metal gun. That weapon was made with a Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) machine the size of a small car. Solid Concepts’ spokeswoman Alyssa Parkinson noted that her company’s DMLS device cost more than her college tuition. DMLS works by using a laser to melt and fuse metal powder into a specific shape.
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In contrast, the Ghost Gunner is only one foot in diameter and one foot tall – about the size of a microwave oven. Unlike the DMLS, the Ghost Gunner can only work with solid materials.
Wilson had planned to sell 110 printers but he’s received orders for more than 200 and he’s expanding. Defense Distributed has hired another employee to ramp up production.
Designed to Beat Gun Control
Wilson is outspoken and unapologetic about the Ghost Gunner’s purpose: to get around gun control laws. In particular, it seems to be designed to get around restrictions on the magazine capacity of rifles and laws against so-called assault weapons.
“I’ve never felt more optimistic about the ability of Defense Distributed to become an installed part of the future, and to help create an expansion of the Second Amendment,” Wilson told Wired. “There’s hope that Defense Distributed can become a significant civil liberties organization. … That’s the ambition, the wildest dream of this entity, to have a marked material effect like that.”
California Already Tried to Register 3D Guns
Making your own AR-15 at home is currently legal in the United States. There is no law against owning a 3D printer, even one capable of manufacturing firearms.
Not surprisingly, gun-control advocates are out to change that. On October 1, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a proposed state law called Senate Bill (SB) 808 which was designed to restrict “ghost guns.”
“SB808 would require individuals who build guns at home to first obtain a serial number and register the weapon with the Department of Justice,” Brown, a Democrat, wrote of the law in his veto letter. “I appreciate the author’s concerns about gun violence, but I can’t see how adding a serial number to a homemade gun would significantly advance public safety.”
Among other things, SB 808, sponsored by Senator Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) would have required persons making 3D guns to register them with the US Justice Department.
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