Ever wonder why gun controllers are getting increasingly shrill? Maybe one reason is they’re finally realizing that – aside from the Sisyphean task of confiscating the 300 million guns already out there – technology is making their utopian dreams of a gun-free world about as realistic as a 144-year-old civil rights organization being branded as a bunch of terrorists. Wait. Bad example. Anyway, the abject fear that struck the hearts of those who would dial back Americans’ right to keep and bear arms when Cody Wilson posted the code for the Liberator pistol on the net is now approaching Kevin Bacon-like levels. Technology continues its relentless, ineluctable march and as James Anderton at engineering.com makes abundantly clear, there’s not a damned thing the busy bees who comprise the Civilian Disarmament Industrial Complex can do about it . . .
Mainly because of two enabling technologies.
The first is 3D printing. Stratasys Direct Manufacturing 3D printed a working M1911-style pistol almost two years ago and to date that pistol has fired some 5000 roundsto prove its durability. Range video shows that it’s accurate as well as durable.
3D printed guns can also be built from plastic resins, making them even more concealable and difficult to detect with conventional technology.
It won’t be very long before you and a few buddies can go in on a printer of your own, download plans from the interwebs, flip the ‘on’ button before you go to bed and pull out a CZ 75 B clone when you wake up the next morning. Can’t wait? Neither can we. Oh, and there’s this, too:
The other enabling technology is multi-axis computer numerical control machining. Five-axis CNC machine tools can carve almost any shape out of a block of light alloy or steel, including firearms.
Critical parts for Eugene Stoner’s iconic M-16/AR-15 assault rifle, for example, are routinely and legally created by individuals using freely available G-code to program the equipment.
If you haven’t been paying attention, Wilson’s Defense Distributed has since moved on to “enabling technology” number two. He’s now selling the “Ghost Gunner,” an affordable desktop CNC machine with which you can crank out AR lowers ’til the bovines return to the barn. And no one who collects a government pay check will ever know about it.
What’s that you say? You don’t want to shell out a bunch of cash for a 3D printer or CNC rig of your own? Negative perspiration.
It’s as easy as handing a USB stick to a good machine shop and picking up the parts a few days later. There are tens of thousands of such job shops across America and many – if not most – busy shops wouldn’t even know that they were machining receivers, bolts or sears.
And once programmed it’s just as easy (and on a per-part basis cheaper) to make 100 parts as it is to make one.
If that doesn’t give the Michael Bloombergs and Ladd Everitts of the world the heebie-jeebies as they lie in bed at night, it’s only because they’re not paying attention. Look for the inevitable press release for the newly-created Everytown to Prevent CNC Proliferation in your email inbox some time soon.
But don’t blame the engineers. Or the gear they’ve created. As Anderson points out,
Regardless of where you are on the issue, the cold hard fact is that 3D printing and multi-axis machining is uncontrollable and it’s here to stay, so don’t be surprised if future crimes are committed with locally made firearms.
And similarly, don’t be surprised if future hunters and target shooters enjoy highly customized, personalized and reasonably priced pistols and long guns for sporting purposes.
Like all technology, it’s not about the machines: it’s about the people that use them.
[h/t Pantera Vazquez]