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Gun control advocate throws in towel in face of advancing technology

Posted by Richard on August 1, 2012

Forbes contributor Mark Gibbs would prefer more gun control laws, but he’s a realist regarding technological progress, and that progress makes his dream an increasingly impossible fantasy:

I’m in favor of tighter gun control and a ban on weapons that are unnecessarily powerful but I’m afraid that technology will soon make any legislation that limits the availability of any kinds of guns ineffective.

The technology that’s shattering Gibbs’ dream is 3-D printing, which like everything computer-related is getting cheaper and more powerful all the time. Although most entry-level 3-D printers can only produce objects in plastics, higher-end printers can work with ceramics and metals.

And that means you can print a gun. And someone has.

Not an entire gun, mind you, but the lower receiver of an AR-15.

The receiver is, in effect, the framework of a gun and holds the barrel and all of the other parts in place. It’s also the part of the gun that is technically, according to US law, the actual gun and carries the serial number.

When the weapon was assembled with the printed receiver HaveBlue reported he fired 200 rounds and it operated perfectly.

I believe you can buy all the parts to build an AR-15 except the lower receiver without any background check or paperwork. So if you can make your own lower receiver on your very own 3-D printer, you’re in business.

Gibbs recognized the implications:

What’s particularly worrisome is that the capability to print metal and ceramic parts will appear in low end printers in the next few years making it feasible to print an entire gun and that will be when gun control becomes a totally different problem.

Will there be legislation designed to limit freedom of printing? The old NRA bumper sticker “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns” will have to be changed to “If guns are outlawed, outlaws will have 3D printers.”

One of the mantras of the computer/information revolution is “Information wants to be free (as in speech, not as in beer).” We may be on the verge of a new revolution in which the self-defense rights movement, the open source hardware movement, and advances in 3-D printing converge to lead to a new slogan: “Firearms want to be free (as in speech, not as in beer).”

(HT: Glenn Reynolds via David Aitken)

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3 Responses to “Gun control advocate throws in towel in face of advancing technology”

  1. jed said

    Yes, you can buy all of the part for an AR-15, except for the lower receiver, without going through an FFL. Well, with a few exceptions, you can, for an intra-state private sale, buy the lower that way too, but the latest hoopla is about those evil internet sales anyway.

    The notion of soon being able to print an entire gun, however, is IMHO quite optimistic, as I wouldn’t be trusting a 3D printed barrel and bolt to contain chamber pressure.

    And just what, I wonder, is Gibbs’ threshold for ‘unnecessarily powerful’? I suspect he would blanche at the answer provided by the Framers of our Constitution, as to what level of power they had in mind. Billll just touched upon another aspect of this, one I hadn’t previously considered.

  2. Rick Shultz said

    I had a good chuckle when I read Jed’s little missive here. I wouldn’t trust a 3D printed barrel or bolt either. The temperatures
    necessary to attain the hardness and strength for a viable barrel
    OR bolt, not to mention the machinery required would make the construction of a 3D printer capable of doing this quite impossible.
    Other devices, of course, could quite successfully be counterfeited
    and that alone is going to give a lot of people semi-permanent

  3. Richard said

    Well, yeah, printing of any kind isn’t going to replace hammer-forging any time soon. 🙂

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