Don’t Worry: You Can’t 3D Print A Machine Gun

Prepare yourself for an onslaught media panic because the Ghost Gunner, essentially a kit that lets you print your own AR-15 lower receiver, is ready to ship and getting press attention again.

The Ghost Gunner comes to us from Defense Distributed, the creator of the first 3D-printed gun.

Here’s the truth: the Ghost Gunner is not a gun. It is not even part of a gun. It is essentially a CNC mill that can be used to build part of a gun although the creator, Cody Wilson, is also selling an 80% complete lower receiver on his site as well, which saves you from having to spend $1,500 on a CNC machine. In short, it is a publicity stunt.

To use the pre-made part Wilson sells you have to drill a few key holes and this “loophole” has been a popular way to print assault rifles for years. What Wilson is doing with the CNC machine is saying you, the maker, can build the entire receiver at home, holes and all. It’s cool but silly.

Remember: making guns is trivial. Anyone can buy a pipe, a rubber band, and a nail and fire off a few rounds, albeit while flagrantly disregarding personal safety. The real trick is in making the manufacture of guns by 3D printing a political event. This gets the makers undue attention, makes police and politicians react in fear, and confuses the benefits of free and open source designs with the right of free speech. In the end, the only people who suffer are real 3D printing researchers who might want to build something more interesting than a detailed Yoda head and that, truly, is a shame.