Like any computer-numerically-controlled (or CNC) mill, the one-foot-cubed black box uses a drill bit mounted on a head that moves in three dimensions to automatically carve digitally-modeled shapes into polymer, wood or aluminum. But this CNC mill, sold by Wilson’s organization known as Defense Distributed for $1,200, is designed to create one object in particular: the component of an AR-15 rifle known as its lower receiver.” – WIRED
You can preorder this specialized CNC machine today, but maybe you’re wondering… how is this legal?
The Gun Control Act of 1968, the same law that kicked-off gun control in America, has a provision that allows an individual to manufacture their guns for personal use.
For your information, per provisions of the Gun Control Act (GCA) of 1968, 18 U.S.C. Chapter 44, an unlicensed individual may make a “firearm” as defined in the GCA for his own personal use, but not for sale or distribution.” – ATF.gov
The AR-15 is one of the most popular guns in America and one of the easiest guns to build. After the Sandy Hook School Shooting gun control law threats from our government shot through the roof – and so did gun sales in response. Out of that buying frenzy emerged a growing gun hobby segment – the homemade gun market.
Today if you search for “80% receiver” you will find many small companies selling the key ingredient – an unfinished lower receiver for an AR-15. If you were to buy a complete AR-15 at a gun store, this would be the single part on the weapon that has a serial number. All the other parts are just pieces of metal as far as gun laws are concerned. If you finish the lower receiver yourself you are not required to put a serial number on it. But you may never sell the gun. To manufacture guns for sale you must be licensed by the government.
So the Gun Control Act of 1968 is what allows Defense Distributed to sell the Ghost Gunner CNC printer legally. But the truth is that anyone with a block of aluminum and a common CNC machine can make the same part. The Ghost Gunner CNC machine just makes it easy to finish this AR-15 part at home without any other skills or tools.
How to Make an AR-15
Normally if you wanted to finish an 80% receiver without a CNC machine all you’d need is a drill, router, and jig – which would be much less expensive than a CNC machine. The advantage of this new CNC machine is that it makes it easier because it automatically makes all the cuts for you.
Freaking out yet? It gets worse… Once you’ve finished this single part (above) you need the rest of the parts to build your gun, kits can be purchased online for as little as $500.
So if you went the DIY route and bought a jig and unfinished receiver you could in a few hours have yourself a semi-automatic AR-15 for about $700 (not including tools).
You could argue that these parts and tools empower bad guys… and that’s partially true. But remember, if this is news to you you’re way behind the curve. Bad guys already know this. Bad guys have been able get the tools they need to do bad things FOR EVER. Bad guys ignore gun laws and do whatever they want. The Second Amendment protects your right to defend yourself from bad guys.
What to do?
Guns are not going away any time soon. Neither is the wheel or fire. We’ve eaten from apple of the forbidden tree. The cat is out of the bag and has long since left the building. We can either chose to ignore the reality of our situation or face it head-on and mature.
Someday I think humanity will mature to a point where we can handle the huge responsibility of technology. Technology can be used for good and bad. Until we learn to prioritize balance over acquisition, greed will drive some people to use technology for violence. Until then peaceful people will need to use technology to defend themselves.