Austin, Texas 3D printing innovator Defense Distributed has been making headlines the past few weeks for doing what seemed impossible at first: manufacturing quality firearms parts using 3D printers and uploading the blueprints for anybody else in the world to download, and it’s driving gun control proponents (excuse me, “gun safety lobbyists”) absolutely crazy.
In January, we reported on Defense Distributed’s groundbreaking printable 30-round AR magazine. Defense Distributed says the schematics for that magazine have already been downloaded over 200,000 times, spreading it far and wide. (Their latest revision of the magazine, the “Cuomo Series,” is available for download here).
The organization’s latest landmark gun part is a sturdy lower receiver capable of lasting more than 650 rounds, as exhibited in the group’s latest awesome video. It has already been downloaded more than 10,000 times.
That’s a big improvement from their first attempt at a lower, which only allowed them to fire only six rounds before it cracked. But this time, they didn’t stop firing on account of a material defect; Defense Distributed says their lower could easily have withstood 1,000 rounds, if they had the ammo to spare.
Ars Technica, in a detailed piece, described how the recent lower receiver improvements came about: “Last year, [the] group famously demonstrated that it could use a 3D-printed “lower” for an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle—but the gun failed after six rounds. Now, after some re-tooling, Defense Distributed has shown that it has fixed the design flaws and a gun using its lower can seemingly fire for quite a while. (The AR-15 is the civilian version of the military M16 rifle.)”
Our January report highlighted Defense Distributed’s gamechanger, a downloadable 30-round assault rifle magazine and how the open-source innovation would make it extremely difficult for legislators to regulate them.
In a sitdown interview that was picked up by Guns.com, Alex Jones got a chance to talk with Defense Distributed frontman Cody Wilson about the success of his group’s downloadable 30-round AR magazine. “It is a symbol,” Wilson said. “They can try to go back to 94, and ban these things. But there’s new methods of manufacturing and the Internet will preserve that file forever.”
Guns.com’s David Higginbotham immediately saw the immense importance of the open-source magazine and what it meant to preserving the demonized firearm, noting, “The 3D printing that seemed like an expensive novelty (or at best a proof-of-concept) may now be an integral means of preserving the AR-15.”
Higginbotham goes on to say, “This is the start of something huge. Forgive my sense of hyperbole. I don’t think I can exaggerate this enough. The AR platform, at age 50, is going the way of the AK 47. What once was a rifle built and regulated by the postwar industrial machine, will now be built, modified, and kept alive by individuals. And there’s little the legislators can do about.”
Gun Grabbers Shaking in Their Boots
Obviously, those wishing to restrict gun rights are none too happy to see these successes come to fruition. Our report from last October noted how various corporate entities tried to stifle the group’s vision early on. (See a more in-depth report in November’s issue of Infowars Magazine.)
In a segment Friday, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow used the video of Defense Distributed’s latest successful lower receiver test to disperse fear propaganda, urging Republicans, Conservatives and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to consider regulating the potential 3D printed weapons:
Here’s an excerpt from the Maddow piece:
These guys are doing this for political reasons. They want guns to be, not only unregulated, but unregulatable. 300,000,000 guns are not enough. More, more, more is the solution.
But whether you agree with them or not, whether you find what they are doing exciting or terrifying or both, you have to admit that this does raise all sorts of interesting questions about law enforcement, and gun laws in this country. I mean, how do you go about regulating a gun if everybody can make one themselves at home, alone, one that can shoot a thousand rounds. There’s no serial number on that lower receiver and honestly nobody bought it or sold it, it’s homemade.
How is law enforcement in this country going to grapple with homemade high powered weapons? What will they do when these guys inevitably distribute the computer code for 3D printing a fully-automatic machinegun?
At the risk of sounding like a pro-Second Amendment broken record, I’ll repeat what’s come to be a characteristic gun rights mantra: what part of “shall not be infringed” don’t you get?
The UK’s BBC also felt it necessary to weigh in on our country’s gun control debate, crafting a slick Second Amendment hit piece geared to demonize Defense Distributed and their vision:
The quality of the BBC video report can be gauged by its first sentence. The reporter, while running video of Defense Distributed’s most recent successful lower receiver trial, says, “At first glance, it’s simply an automatic rifle…” making the same stupid mistake that first lady Michelle Obama recently made when she stated that 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was shot with “automatic weapons,” – an error that stoked controversy after it was exposed that ABC edited the comment out of an interview. Nevertheless, the reporter continues referring to the AR-15 as an automatic weapon, despite the fact that people in the video are seen pulling the trigger each time a bullet is fired. (The people that don’t even understand guns in the first place are the same ones trying to take them away.)
Another Crowdfunded 3D Printed Firearms Company
Defense Distributed may be the 3D printing firearm company that is getting all the media attention, but there’s another 3D printing firearms groups who is also looking to flood the market with 3D parts, even exploiting gun law loopholes to do so.
A project called 2nd AM Arms recently reached their goal of $30,000 to fund a project that will flaunt gun laws by selling 80 percent completed receivers. In the way of Ikea furniture, this means a degree of effort would be required to make the part functional.
2ND AM sets forth their mission on their RocketHub posting:
2ND AM ARMS support the 2nd Amendment and we are starting an open-source rapid prototyping shop. We are offering “commemorative” 80% AR15 Lowers to those who support our project (these are not classified as firearms and can be shipped directly to your address). You will also be supporting the Second Amendment and 2% of all funds raised will go to the NRA.
For a $5 donation, the group says it will also send a copy of the Bill of Rights to notorious gun grabbers Dianne Feinstein and Barack Obama, with added text saying, “Not only will you not be allowed to take away our rights but your attempt at creating a ban has put one more gun into the hands of a responsible citizen. So, thank you. Signed, [Your Name Here].”
PopSci describes 2nd AM Arms’ method of skirting current laws, and spells out the differences between Defense Distributed and 2nd AM: “The argument made by 2nd AM Arms… is that an 80-percent completed receiver is just part of a gun component, not a full-blown firearm, and as a such is not subject to the same degree of federal regulation.
“What that might mean: Buy it, and you could have complete anonymity.”
[...] “With Defense Distributed, it’s about people freely downloading schematics. With 2nd AM Arms, the dodge is by offering only a mostly complete product.”
Obama Calls 3D Printing the “Next Revolution in Manufacturing”
The government is getting into 3D printing. During Obama’s last State of the Union Address, he announced the launch of “manufacturing hubs” where workers would “master the 3D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make everything.” Defense Distributed would say he’s definitely right about that.
Could the federal government be edging into the industry so they can later craft laws regulating it? Some legislators, like Congressman Steve Israel (D-NY), have already called for renewal of legislation outlawing undetectable firearms, but this will likely do little if nothing to curb the technology’s potential.
Tony Cartalucci, writer for LandDestroyer, believes big government meddling in the technology is a surefire way regulate the technology.
Obama’s mention of 3D printing is akin to the buzzing of a parasitic mosquito’s wings before it lands, with its hungry, ever-searching proboscis preparing to bury itself inside its host and begin to feed. It is a warning, not a ray of light. It is a reaffirmation of the gravity this emerging technology holds and the responsibility that falls upon those in the tech community to protect it, keep it open, independent, free of the meddling of big-business and their political proxies, and instead, in the service of humanity.
While the gun control lobby is busy wondering what its next move will be in trying to regulate the emerging technology, gun enthusiasts are busy pondering more important questions like: “How long until we get the whole gun?” and “What are you gonna make the barrel out of??”
Indeed, it will be interesting to see what solutions Defense Distributed and others have in store for these phases, but if the past is any indication of what the future may bring, in my opinion, we could begin seeing a fully printed firearm by year’s end.
It will also be interesting to see what new legal hurdles, if any, the government can conjure up to try to thwart these 21st century gunsmiths.
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