Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Politics of Guns: 3-D Printed Guns (Rumor Control)

By now you have probably heard a lot of crying over 3-D printed guns and how criminals and terrorists will be printing untraceable/undetectable guns (so called “ghost guns”) and the end of civilization is upon us. 
Well, I’m here to tell you that all this crying is nothing more than fear mongering and an excuse by the anti-gunners to use new technology to pass more oppressive laws and destroy freedom.

So what started all this crying about 3-D printed guns?  Several years ago a company called Defense Distributed created computer files (commonly called CAD files) for a 3-D printer that allowed you to print a gun and gun parts.  Defense Distributed only sold the CAD models, never an actual gun or gun parts.  The government considered the computer files a potential national security threat and placed a ban on the distribution of these computer files. 
Recently Defense Distributed won a lawsuit against the government, which overturned the ban and they are now allowed to sell their computer models to the public.  This ruling is a big win for freedom of speech.  Remember, no actual guns or gun parts were ever sold, only computer CAD files. 
The anti-gunners are now worried that these plans will be used by criminals and terrorists to print undetectable/untraceable guns and bring civilization to its knees. 
This is what started the crying and wailing. 

Now for some rumor control:

Here is what the law actually allows:

1.    Yes, you are allowed to manufacture your own gun by any means you want.  You can use an old-fashioned lathe, mill, hand files, etc.  Or use a modern high tech 3-D printer.  It does not matter.  BUT. THERE. ARE. RULES. YOU. MUST. OBEY. FOR. IT. TO. BE. LEGAL.
a.    You cannot be a convicted felon and make your own gun.  This is already illegal.
b.    As this home made gun will not have a serial number, you cannot ever sell it or even give it away as a gift.  It is for your own personal use only. 
c.     You cannot manufacture an undetectable gun.  It MUST by law, contain enough steel to be detectable by common means such as x-ray machines or metal detectors.  A truly undetectable gun is already illegal under existing law.
We have enough laws in place already to cover 3-D printers.

What can a 3-D printer actually do?

Can you 3-D print a functioning firearm?

Well, yes and no at the same time.  Let me address the no side first.

1.    First, No. 
a.    You cannot produce a fully functioning AR15 with a 3-D printer.  The material science is not good enough. The plastic parts will blow up if you tried. You need metal for the barrel, bolt, bolt carrier, trigger assembly, springs.  So the idea of producing a fully functioning gun as you would buy in the store is complete fantasy.

2.    Next Yes, here is what you can actually produce with 3-D printer.
a.    Low stress piece parts for guns.  For example, the lower receiver of the AR15 that houses the trigger assembly and buffer assembly.  BUT the upper receiver must be made out of metal.  And many parts such as the barrel, bolt, bolt carrier, gas block and firing pin MUST be made out of steel or other high strength material so they do not blow up when fired.  The common 3-D printers are not capable of producing these parts. 
                                               i.     Some will say there are 3-D printers that print metal parts.  Yes, but parts produced on these machines cannot maintain the tight tolerances necessary and the parts require secondary machining with a mill and/or lathe.  At this point, you have just geared up for major manufacturing and are spending tens of thousands of dollars.  None of this is done on a $1000 hobbyist 3-D printer. 
b.    What else can you print?
                                               i.     A very simple, single shot gun such as the Liberator by Defense Distributed
1.    Very simple.  Not very accurate.
2.    Fires a small pistol caliber only, thus not very powerful. 
3.    Only fires a limited number of rounds before it falls apart. 
4.    Single shot only.  Slow to reload.  Must be reloaded after each shot.  Not something you will use to commit mass murder. 
5.    Must include a block of steel to be legal.
c.     Can you print plastic ammunition? 
                                               i.     Not really.  I don’t think this is realistic.  Especially when brass cased ammunition is readily available off the shelf. 

What is to be done?

Nothing really.  This is 99% anti-gun hysteria.  The anti’s are trying to create a mountain out of nothing.  Using the ignorance of 3-D printing technology to create fear in the general population so it is easier to pass gun control and strip more freedoms away from the citizenry.  

Even if you ban Defense Distributed from distributing their computer files.  The criminals and terrorists can program the computer themselves.  They are not necessarily stupid.  All it takes is a computer and off the shelf software to program whatever you want.  3-D printers are 30 year old technology.  They were not designed to make guns. They can make almost anything.  If you can design it in the computer, you can print it.  In the future the frame of your car and house will be 3-D printed with large industrial size printers. 

Even if you ban or regulate private ownership of 3-D printers, you can still buy a lathe and mill and make a gun out of metal.  I can even make a simplified, single shot “zip gun” from material I buy at Home Depot. 
Give me a drill press and a Dremel and I will make a functioning gun. 
If the criminals really want to build guns they can.  Home workshops are not illegal, nor are the necessary generic tools.  Guns can be made with existing technology.  Nothing new is needed.   
(Side Comment:  I bet the gang-bangers really didn’t know about 3-D printers before all the hysteria.  But now they do, thanks to the anti-gunners screaming about 3-D printers to everyone.  If undetectable “ghost guns” were actually a problem, we would have seen it by now.  If we do see it, I bet we will be able to trace the idea back to the anti-gunners screaming about 3-D printers to everyone.  Just food for thought.)   

Don’t believe the 3-D printer hype.  That’s all it is, hype.  Designed to scare the uneducated masses into giving up their freedoms.
Why print a single shot “zip gun” or lower when it is easier to steal a real gun or buy off the black market?  Especially when the real guns last longer and are more powerful. 

Finally comment, Look what happened on 9-11-2001.  4 airplanes downed, 3 buildings demolished, a 4th damaged and all those guys used were box cutters.  No guns needed.
Don’t fall for the hysteria.
And never, ever give up your freedoms.  Not even an inch.   

By: Mez

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