The consternation over 3D printing of firearms is nothing more than anti-gun hysteria over the democratization of firearms manufacturing. For some, it is just another attack against the Second Amendment; a talking piece to scare people to get more legislation. To others, which President Trump appears to belong to this other group, they actually believe that 3D printing means gang members, drug dealers, and psychos are going to be mass producing “untraceable” guns and cause mayhem. These are the same people who believe the “Internet loophole” myth that you can order a gun online and have it shipped to your door, just in time for your school shooting or terrorist attack that day.
First off, 3D printing (using that term for computer-controlled machining or manufacturing from raw materials at home) will make firearm ownership possible for anyone under any circumstances. Non-gun makers building their own guns is nothing new. Tinkers have been doing it for years and homemade guns are found online all the time, ranging from cheap zip-guns to actual quality submachine guns. Nevermind downloading 3D blueprints, you can buy a 9mm SMG machining plans book on Amazon.
Even under absolute tyranny clandestine gun manufacture went on. Israeli Jews had secret workshops under the nose of the British and the Polish resistance made their own Sten gun copies to fight the Nazis. You can’t stop the signal.
While many of these garage quality guns can be built by someone who has a machine shop and knowledge, many more struggle to complete 80% receivers with good tools, jigs, plenty of detailed instructions, and while watching a YouTube video. 3D printing, where the computer and machinery do all the work, promise to dramatically lower the skill level required to turn plastic or metal into a gun. Gun manufacture is no longer “magic.”
This is what scares the government, idiots, and control freaks. Suddenly, many gun control regulations are invalid overnight if no one needs a dealer or manufacturer. Government regulation of firearms and disarmament requires a finite supply that can be cut off and rounded up. In the age to come, there can never be a drought of firearms as long as sufficient plastics, aluminum, and steel exists.
Soon, the ease of making whatever you want will nullify the NFA and make it a mockery just like bootleggers did to the Volstead Act. What is the point of licensing dealers and banning machine guns if all you have to do is buy some stock steel and run a program overnight? The ATF could never catch everyone who decided to make themselves a full-auto AR lower or two; when hundreds of thousands of Americans have one, are they going to try to arrest us all?
3D printing offers a final bastion of “untraceable” guns that aren’t tied to a dealer record or registration so that should gun confiscation happen, we are still armed. Police and politicians don’t like it because they can’t trace a crime gun back to the dealer and find, perhaps, a crooked FFL or someone to pin an illegal private sale on. The origin of dealer licensing was to identify who was selling guns to bootleggers, mobsters, and early “motor bandits” and cut off the supply. Since the early efforts of the 1920s, these laws have kept the guns out of the hands of criminals…right?
Of course 3D guns will pop-up in crimes from time to time. In drug and gang violence, machine guns smuggled into the country pop-up occasionally as well. Yet a crackhead robber, a gang member, or a drug dealer is not going to be running a 3D printer and assembling guns. If they had that kind of patience, intelligence, or skills, they wouldn’t be criminals. Sure, they might pay someone to build them, but it is by far easier to steal, buy on the streets, or use straw purchases to get already built guns. 3D guns are for tyrants; a stolen Glock is for the ghetto.
Don’t forget all we’re talking about at the moment is printing receivers—that’s the part that holds the important stuff. Receivers are regulated, while barrels, trigger parts, stocks, etc. are not, though California wanted to subject these major components to background checks so that they might choke off the “fuck you” movement of build-your-own-and-shut-your-mouth. Machining quality barrels at home is a nut that still needs to be cracked. The difficulty of making smokeless powder, jacketed bullets, and cartridge cases to evade ammo bans is another hurdle.
Hoplopaths want to ban everything gun related, but others, again referring to the president, think this is some sort of solution. These pea-brained ignoramuses would probably have voted to ban digital cameras and the Internet because it made child pornography much more available. No, the solution is not to take Snapchat away from your teenager and discuss why sending nudes is a bad idea, the “solution” is to pass a revenge porn law. This current hysteria is King George ordering all the birds in North America killed so that their feathers can’t be used as quills to write nasty letters to the editor about him.
But background checks, blah blah blah… People steal guns all the time. They lie. They send their girlfriend into the dealer. If they don’t have guns, terrorists drive trucks into crowds. Crazy homeless people go on hammer and knife rampages. Impulsive murders are committed with lampstands, rocks, pieces of pipe, and baseball bats. You really think that by banning a “kitchen” and “recipes” you are going to stop people from baking “killer” cookies at home?
But on the positive side, at least the NRA apparently told off President Cheeto on the issue.
Support Nevada Carry/Frontier Carry on Patreon for just $1 a month! This helps us keep the lights on and cover our expenses where the paltry ad revenue can't. It's a way to contribute something to help us keep spreading the truth about gun laws, gun control, and history. In return, you get access to rare tidbits I've found in historical research (old articles, clippings, photos), links to scholarly articles, invitations to meet ups, premium Q&A questions etc. Please email regarding one-time donations.