The Future of Firearms: Legally Homemade Metal Guns

Metal-Gun-640x353Ever since 3-D printing became a commercially available service, Defense Distributed has sought to use the technology to create firearms. And in their latest act of circumventing the law, the online, open-source, libertarian group has created another means of building homemade firearms. But unlike the Liberator – their previous single shot incarnation – this one doesn’t involve making guns from 3-D printed plastic.

The group’s latest invention is known as the Ghost Gunner – a small, computer numerical control (CNC) milling machine that they used to create an aluminum lower receiver for an AR-15 rifle. This device, which costs about $1200, allows people with no gunsmith training to assemble a working assault rifle at home with no licensing or serial number. And for the moment, it’s completely legal.

metal-gun-inline22The Ghost Gunner itself is a small box that measures about one foot on each side and contains an Arduino controller and a custom-designed spindle that holds a steel carbide drill bit. It works like any other CNC machine – the drill spins up and moves in three dimensions to carve items out of blocks of metal. However, this machine is specifically intended to make an AR-15 lower receiver.

That’s the part of a gun that connects the stock, barrel, and magazine – and the part that’s regulated by the ATF and assigned a serial number. Selling it without a license is illegal, but making it yourself is perfectly fine. An untraceable gun built without a serial number is often called a “ghost gun” by gun control advocates. Hence why Defense Distributed chose to appropriate the term, to deliberately generate controversy.

Cody-Wilson-Defense-Distributed-Wiki-Weapon-3-d-printed-gunThis is just the latest example of Defense Distributed pushing the bounds of home manufacturing technology to make a point. Cody Wilson, the group’s founder, is an openly radical, libertarian who has repeatedly stated that mass shootings and gun-related violence are simply the price people pay for freedom. In addition, his group has openly stated that they would not allow tragedies like the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting deter them.

Manufacturing homemade weapons has always been his way of showing that technology can evade regulations, thus making the state obsolete. The group’s previous weapons – the 3D-printed Liberator gun – was more of a political statement. The gun itself was neither effective or practical; but then again, it wasn’t meant to be. This proof-of-concept weapon was simply meant to show that a new era of manufacturing is upon us.

liberatorThe Liberator itself is prone to failure and usually only manages a few poorly aimed shots before breaking down. In designing a cheap CNC machine specifically to make gun parts, Defense Distributed is delivering a viable weapon at a fraction of the cost of other CNC machines (which cost many thousands of dollars). If you can make a lower receiver, all the other parts can be ordered online cheaply and legally.

 

The Ghost Gunner is capable of making anything that fits in the build envelope, which accounts for several gun parts that go into assembling a working assault weapon or handgun. The only requirement is the parts be created with Defense Distributed’s Physibles Development SDK (pDev) and distributed as a .dd file. In that respect, it’s not much different than any number of 3D printers.

3dmetalgun-640x353Once again, Defense Distributed has proven that, for better or worse, we live in an entirely new era of manufacturing. In the past, a person needed considerable training if they wanted to make their own firearm. Nowadays, one needs only the right kind of hardware, software, and access to the necessary files. And as always seems to be the case in the digital age, the law is miles behind the curve.

One can expect the law will be upon Defense Distributed once again and place a ban on their Ghost Gunner. However, it goes without saying that Wilson and his colleagues will simply try again some other way and the fight between regulators and home manufactures will continue. But regardless of the issue of firearms, this is an indication of the age we now live in, where distributed systems are making for some rather interesting and fearful possibilities.

 

Source: extremetech.com

Update: 3D-Printed Gun Faces Crackdown

defense-distributed-liberator,Z-M-383602-13Just a few days ago, Defense Distributed announced the creation of the world’s first gun that is made entirely out of 3D-printed parts. And as anticipated, it didn’t take long for a crackdown to ensue. The group’s leader Cody Wilson, after conducting the first successful firing test of “The Liberator”, claimed that the blueprints would be uploaded to the open-source website Defcad so they would be available to anyone.

Yesterday, less than a week after the announcement was made, Mr. Wilson claimed that Defcad is “going dark” at the request of the U.S. Department of Defense Trade Controls. Defense Distributed runs the website, which has been a provider of weapons-related 3D printer blueprints since the group was founded.

Defense Distributed new magazines

As of yesterday, the site contained only a brief message explaining why it the Liberator blueprints were no longer available:

Defcad files are being removed from public access at the request of the U.S. Department of Defence Trade Controls. Until further notice, the United States government claims control of the information.

The group’s twitter feed also contained the following message:

#DEFCAD has gone dark at the request of the Department of Defense Trade Controls. Take it up with the Secretary of State.

The weapon itself was the result of eight months of research and testing on behalf of Wilson and his group. In that time, the group has become a source of controversy due to their dedication to making blueprints for printable gun parts available online. These include components for AR-15 assault weapon and extended magazines for an AK-47 assault rifle.

defense_distmagHowever, the Liberator, named in honor of the single-shot pistols that were dropped on France during the Second World War, was the first set of blueprints that was made entirely out of ABS plastic, making it the first open-source “Wiki-weapon” that would be available to anyone with the means to print it.

As a result of their commitment to open-source weaponry, Defense Distributed has become the subject of penalties and restrictions. In fact, Defcad was created after Makerbot Industries chose to purge all of the group’s gun blueprints from the website. Shortly after they test-fired an AR-15 that included printed parts, Wilson and his associates also had their 3D printer, which they had been leasing, seized.

defense_dist1This latest decision targets their activities at their source. However, the decision to take the plans off of Defcad did not present an estimated 10,000 downloads. However, it is not clear if those who obtained the plans will be able to print them off at their local printing shop. Only those who already possess a 3D printing unit, which is likely to run them between $1000 and $3000 dollars will be able to produce their own version of the Liberator.

In short, this issue is not yet resolved. Knowing Wilson and his admirers, open-source, printable weapons are likely to remain a contentious issue for some time to come…

Source: cbc.ca

The World’s First Completely 3D-Printed Gun

liberatorSince it’s inception, 3D printing has offered people a wide range of manufacturing possibilities, ranging from the creation of intricate prototypes to drugs and even human tissue. However, one of the most controversial manufactured items to come from the technology has been what the Texas-based organization known as Defense Distributed refers to as “Wiki-weapons”, guns that can be made by anyone using downloaded blueprints and a public printer.

DD_gunsNot long ago, the group announced that they had successfully created a working AR-15 assault weapon using some printed parts. This drew sharp criticism from advocates of gun control, in part because the same weapon was used in the Newton, Connecticut school shooting. However, Cody Wilson, founder of DD, announced that they would continue to pursue their goal of making printed guns, stating that their commitment to the 2nd Amendment took precedence over a single tragedy.

And now, it appear that they have gone a step further, unveiling the world’s first fully 3D-printed weapon. Save for a nail which is used as the firing pin, the gun is made up entirely of printed parts, can fire normal ammunition and is capable of making it past a metal detector. It’s called the Liberator, the product of eight months of labor by Cody and his group, and named in honor of the one-shot pistols that were airdropped by the Allies on France during the Second World War.

DD_liberatorIn an interview with Forbes, Cody and his group demonstrated their first test firing, which was a success. He also claimed that the Liberator will be capable of connecting to different barrels, allowing it to fire various calibers of ammunition. He also plans to publish the files necessary to print it at home as well as details on its operation so that anyone can produce their own.

This is all in keeping with Cody’s vision – being a hardcore libertarian and anarchist – to create a class of weapon that anyone can produce, circumventing the law and the regulatory process. At the same time though, Distributed Defense did decide to include a small chunk of metal in the final design to ensure that the gun couldn’t pass through a metal detector undetected. This is in compliance with the Undetectable Firearms Act, and may have been motivated by the group’s sagging public image.

Defense_DistributedHowever, this has not stopped the group from obtaining a federal firearms license this past March, making it a legal gun manufacturer. And once the file is online, anybody will be able to download it. What’s more, all attempts to limit DD’s activities, which include printing firms purging gun parts from their databases, has made Cody even more eager to pursue his aims. In a statement made to Forbes magazine, he said:

You can print a lethal device. It’s kind of scary, but that’s what we’re aiming to show… Everyone talks about the 3D printing revolution. Well, what did you think would happen when everyone has the means of production? I’m interested to see what the potential for this tool really is. Can it print a gun?

Well, Mr. Wilson, we’re about to find out! And if I were a betting man, I would say it the “potential” will include more unregistered firearms, a terrorist act or shooting that will involve a partially printed weapon, and Wilson’s continued intransigence to reform his ways, citing the 2nd Amendment as always. Libertarians are nothing if not predictable!

Sources: tech.fortune.cnn.com, forbes.com

 

Gun Parts Purged from 3D Printing Database

Defense_DistributedBack in December, the 3D printing company MakerBot announced its decision to purge designs for AR15 components and other weapons from its 3D printing wesbsite, known as Thingiverse. Prior to this date, it was perfectly legal to download the components of an AR-15 assault weapon from the internet.

This weapon was not only one of the guns used in the recent Newton, Connecticut shooting, it is also the weapon that Distributed Defense – a Wiki Weapons group – claims to have successfully created using 3D printed parts. In a statement released to the public, Makerbot’s spokesperson cited Terms of Service and legal issues as the reason for the decision:

“Thingiverse’s Terms of Service state that users agree not to use Thingiverse “to collect, upload, transmit, display, or distribute any User Content (ii) that…promotes illegal activities or contributes to the creation of weapons, illegal materials or is otherwise objectionable.” If an item has been removed, it is because it violates the Thingiverse Terms of Service.”

To wit, these Terms of Service have not changed, but Makerbot’s enforcement of them certainly has. By law, the company has the right to pull any items from its file list that they feel could be used in the commission of  crime. And since one of the most heinous crimes imaginable was commissioned using parts that are freely available on their site, this change is hardly surprising.

Personally, the decision seems like a no-brainer. And simply saying they don’t want people using their website to construct guns and go on shootings sprees would have sufficed for me, no need to justify it by citing legal articles! However, said components and other firearm parts still remain available on several other open source internet websites. No telling if and when they will follow Makerbot’s lead, but I think we can expect them to endorse the ban while they can still do it willingly.

Given the pressure that has been placed on the White House to ban the sale of firearms of late, especially assault weapons, and the attention Defense Distributed got with their creation of an AR-15 rifle using certain “printable parts”, it quite likely that a gun control provision will be passed that makes it illegal to print any and all gun components.

Source: news.cnet.com