With advancing technology, the whole “gun control” (or, more accurately, “person control”) debate may soon become a moot point. Gun enthusiasts have been buzzing for awhile about the development of 3-D printers that are capable of printing usable plastic guns. Defense Distributed, out of Austin, Texas, got the ball running in January, when it uploaded schematics for a printable 30-round AR magazine. Since then, 200,000 fans have downloaded those schematics.
Defense Distributed has now upped the ante in the gun control debate by uploading the schematics for a lower receiver that’s capable of lasting at least 650 rounds. In trials, Defense Distributed ran out of ammo long before it actually needed to stop. Gun enthusiasts have already downloaded these schematics more than 10,000 times.
In addition to being a really cool piece of computer engineering, the new schematics also mark an incredibly rapid improvement over the first efforts at making a “lower.” Just last year, the 3D printed “lower” for a semi-automatic rifle worked, but it failed after only six rounds. It’s taken Defense Distributed mere months to work out those bugs and come up with a dramatically better product.
Defense Distributed isn’t just creating those innovations for money. The company is also about making a statement. Cody Wilson, the company’s spokesman, told Alex Jones that the downloadable 30-round AR magazine “Is a symbol. 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.”
What was once a cute, and unaffordable, computer gimmick that could create little chess pieces and doodads, is now an important element in the gun debate. According to David Higginbotham, at Guns.com, 3d printing has gone from being a novelty to being “in integral means of preserving the AR-15.” The magazine bans that Congress and various state legislatures are contemplating become meaningless if people can just go to their printer and create what they need.
Higginbotham is alive to the possibilities:
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.
Is it any surprise that those pushing for gun control are horrified by this development. Rachel Maddow, the unabashedly Progressive TV host at MSNBC, probably spoke for millions of pro-gun control Americans when she used the Defense Distributed video to warn her audience about the horrors yet to come:
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 machine gun?
Maddow is certainly entitled to her feelings, but the rest of us are entitled to our Second Amendment rights. The Founding Fathers (especially Jefferson) would have appreciated that this core civil right is being kept alive by technology the Founders could never have imagined.