“Download this gun”: More on 3D printing technology

As we’ve mentioned before, 3D printing technology is threatening to send the gun law industry the way of the buggy whip. And technology continues to march on. Defense Distributed has released their latest CAD files for an improved AR lower receiver.

Previous versions failed after a few rounds, but proved the concept: Printed guns are not something limited to world of CSI.

From Ars Technica:

Last year, [Defense Distributed] 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.)

The lower, or “lower receiver” part of a firearm, is the crucial part that contains all of the gun’s operating parts, including the trigger group and the magazine port. (Under American law, the lower is what’s defined as the firearm itself.) The AR is designed to be modular, meaning it can receive different types of “uppers” (barrels) as well as different-sized magazines.

“This is the first publicly printed AR lower demonstrated to withstand a large volume of .223 without structural degradation or failure,” [Defense Distributed founder Cody] Wilson wrote on Wednesday. “The actual count was 660+ on day 1 with the SLA lower. The test ended when we ran out of ammunition, but this lower could easily withstand 1,000 rounds.”

As you can see in this video, it’s the shooter’s trigger finger that’s getting the torture test, not the lower…

The key to success for this and future printed firearms designs is, as Wilson puts it, “not to print components for guns that are, but the guns that will be”. That first design was based on the AR lower as it exists today; a part designed with 1950s machine shop technologies in mind. But a printed firearm isn’t being made in a shop of yesteryear. Thus the shapes being used in the part need not be confined to shapes that your grandfather could make with his old Bridgeport mill.

Which brings us back to that old fashioned concept called the gun law. The legislative mechanisms in place today are designed around Grandad’s old Bridgeport. They assume a world where the secrets to building a gun are confined to a few, easily regulated manufacturers. That isn’t the case anymore. Anyone with access to a 3D printer can make their own. Furthermore, with FOSS CAD tools, such as FreeCAD, available, they can come up with, and build, their own designs. There is no reason to be limited to what traditional manufacturers can offer.

How does one outlaw that?!

And that’s the motivation for Wilson. He describes himself as a crypto-anarchist. “I believe in evading and disintermediating the state,” he told Ars Technica. Thus a goal of his project is to promote technologies that make legislation impossible; that makes the very concept of regulatory legislation unworkable. This in turn makes it harder and harder for the State to interfere in the affairs of its citizens.