WL Gore & Assoc

Why a New AWB Soon Won’t Matter

Even if Congress decides to enact a new AWB tomorrow, essentially, it won’t matter. 3D printers are coming and they can’t be stopped. Along with those printers will come a whole new set of enforcement challenges. That’s why outlawing guns, or even just certain types is unworkable. Instead, society needs to come to grips with the root cause of mass shootings. Part of that answer is most assuredly going to involve mental health care. There’s no free lunch here folks. Meaning, you might want to consider your stance on public healthcare vice your position on the Second Amendment and personal ownership of firearms. We used to institutionalize the insane but stopped doing it because it cost too much. Enhanced security will also cost, and will most assuredly result in some level of compromised individual liberty. America is clamoring for a nanny state and there are those all too willing to satisfy them.

“Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”
– President Thomas Jefferson

But I digress.

Consider the use of this argument when you debate gun grabbers. They can round up every last one of them but the technology will soon be available for virtually anyone to manufacture a firearm in the comfort of their home. And that firearm won’t necessarily be in compliance of the national firearms act or other laws governing the manufacture and features of firearms. Building these guns won’t require expensive machinery or special skills. Simply download a file and press a button. Assemble when finished.

Check out this article we published less than six months ago for some real world application of 3D printing of firearm components.

Tactical Fanboy picked this up the other day. Despite assertions elsewhere, by no means is this the first 3D printed firearm. It’s starting to make its way into the Main Stream Media and of course timing couldn’t be better so the ‘plastic’ gun and ‘anyone can print a gun’ talk has already started. To be sure, 3D printing is the next big thing. Industry is way out on front of Government on this issue as they are more concerned with patent and copyright infringement than anything else. Expect to see industry propose legislation to attempt to throttle printers in order to suppress certain types of items being produced.

The big issue in this instance is that a lower was produced. As far as ATF is concerned, that is the firearm. It is legal to build your own gun. However, as this technology proliferates, what would stop someone who cannot legally possess a firearm from printing critical parts and assembling a gun from the parts he couldn’t produce in house? A heavy question that balances liberty and social responsibility.

Will LE one day be on the lookout for unlicensed printers connecting to the network? Will everything we print have to be approved by a central server? Will printing certain items become illegal? These are all issues we will face in the not-too-distant-future. The capability presented by the 3D printer makes it an absolute Disruptive Technology.

HaveBlue of AR15.com has managed to create a working polymer AR-15 lower made from a 3D printer, specifically a mid 90’s Stratasys 3D printer. So far, the lower has been combined with a .22 LR upper, with over 200 rounds fired and no issues. A 5.56 upper was also used, with some feeding and extraction issues, however according to the creator this upper has also had problems with a standard aluminum lower.

A few other articles I’ve seen on this project have instantly jumped at the chance to (incorrectly) claim people now have the ability to create fully-functional firearms using just a 3D printer, so in the name of truth and fairness, I feel it’s important to mention that only the lower was created with the printer, not the trigger assembly and other required components.

AR-15.com thread detailing the project


16 Responses to “Why a New AWB Soon Won’t Matter”

  1. Matt says:

    I’ve seen a lot of news about this and a lot of people dismissing this technology, especially when the one that was used with a 5.7mm upper broke after three or four rounds. However, 3d printing technology only gets better over time. Especially watch the titanium printers.

  2. Chris says:

    These 3D printers have a very long way to go…We use 3D printers to make our prototypes and today they are no way capable of real world combat environment.

    • SSD says:

      You have to shift your paradigm. Don’t think M16. Think very short-term use firearm. If you’re a criminal making an illicit weapon, you’re not looking for a long term thing but rather just enough to get you through the job, whatever that is.

      • Alex says:

        Now that is a troubling thought. When I read the blog post I was thinking more in the area of lawful individual use. When you add a “throw away” criminal use that a very big concern.

        • Mr. Gray says:

          Even now you could make a throw away use with a few parts from the hardware store. No matter what sort of bans and regulations there are, people will find a way. The issue should be figuring out how to help those people that could be at risk of doing these things.

  3. Chris says:

    There are several machines available such as powdered metal machines and machines that used reinforced plastics. As a matter of fact Boeing and airbus are currently use such technology such as this to produce components for the b787 and a350 as well as space craft that are subject to high stresses! The cost is a lot right now but the cost of these machines are reaching consumer levels and with in 2 years should be ready for high end consumer purchase.

    Another technology that has has exploded is DIY cnc routers/mills/lathes and for 1500 but you can buy a machine that is more than accurate to make firearms components. 3d models are available and does not take more that a few minutes of “click to convert to g code” to have a machine producing parts!

    Are they going to produce firearms that can shoot 1000s of rounds? Maybe but all it’s is 1!

  4. Stretch says:

    I would find this more of an article of “don’t worry if they take your weapon off you, just build your own!” veiled as a community service announcement.

  5. Barry-Shrub says:

    I like it. Start thinking like a partisan, people. Politically correct thoughts only hamper your survivability.

  6. Those that say that 3-D printed materials aren’t strong enough for firearm manufacture miss the point, especially regarding the AR-15. The lower receiver, which is the serial numbered accountable part undergoes little or no stress in firing. It merely holds the trigger, hammer, and magazine catch. All of the pressure is contained in the barrel and upper receiver which can be purchased by mail by anyone. They are considered just parts.

    Parts is parts!

  7. Cailean says:

    As a person living in the Scotland, where it is near impossible for a civilian to buy a gun, never mind a mil-grade one, I’ve always found the US stance on this quite bemusing.
    Just looking at your neighbour to the North – Canada have more guns per head that the States, yet less gun crime. Could this be because of their version of the National Health Service? I haven’t really looked into it in great detail, but surely the issue is trying to get people out of the mindset that goes out and commits atrocities – that way the aforementioned people would not think of using technology like this to make weapons in the first place.

  8. Reverend says:

    You’re also missing a huge point in the news about increased gun sales…. There will be MILLIONS of semi-autos out and about in the hands of the general public.

    Most will have on hand a minimum of 5 high cap mags.

    Multiple that by MILLIONS of GUN OWNERS who will not give up something they paid hard earned money. The genie is out of the bottle, we need to address mental health issues, not firearms.

  9. Bushman says:

    Any new gun ownership limitations will cause less use than harm from the point of law. Just imagine, how many gun owners will have to face the choice: to give their guns up or to say, that it was lost/broken/stolen and turn themselves into criminals, hiding illegal guns somewhere. How many currently loyal people will turn into criminals just because they don’t want to support that stupid limitations?

    Many years ago, my friend told me the story that happened in his philosophy class in the university. Professor was telling something about different ways to see the world and asked the question: “Maybe, crazy people are just seeing the world in different way and we don’t have to lock them?” My friend answered: “We have to lock them not because they see the world differently, but because nobody really know, what exact dangerous thing will they do next minute.”

    Student can give the right answer, why many other people can’t?

    If guns will be inaccessible for everybody, including insane people, they’ll grab knives, handmade bombs, hammers or anything they could use to kill somebody, if “voices” will tell them to do it.

  10. Lawrence says:

    This whole situation with the rising rate of mass shootings, whilst the overall rate of violent crime in general and gun crime in particular, is an issue of individual mental and collective social health. Read this outstanding article for a good look at it: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323723104578185271857424036.html

    As far as firearms manufacturing technology is concerned, sure its moved on and 3D printing offers some intriguing possibilities – but it doesn’t even need to be that sophisticated. Anybody remember the STEN gun?