Building A Better 3D Printed Gun

Back in 2013, [Cody Wilson] of Defense Distributed designed and built the world’s first completely 3D printed pistol. He called his gun the Liberator, after a World War II-era single-shot pistol designed to be cheap and easy to manufacture, easy to conceal, and for members of the French Resistance, ‘a great gun to obtain a better gun’.

cyl[Cody]’s Liberator turned out to be a great gun to obtain two or three fewer fingers. Not only was this a single-shot pistol, it was a single barrel pistol; with each round fired requiring a new 3D printed barrel. Tests were carried out, explosions happened, and we couldn’t even get the thing to print. For all the media hubbub, for all the concerned legislators, the first 3D printed pistol was much ado about nothing.

3D printers are still an extremely interesting technology, and if history has proved one thing, it’s that engineers and tinkerers will keep building guns. Last week, [James Patrick] released his latest design for a working 3D printed gun. It still fires the .22lr of the Liberator, but this is a double action revolver, it won’t blow up, and if you drop it, it won’t discharge. It’s the little things that count.

[James]’ revolver is either a 6 or 8-shot revolver uses a pepper-box design, where the gun has multiple chambers and barrels in one gigantic cylinder. The double action design first rotates the cylinder to the next chamber, pulls back a striker loaded up with a firing pin nail, and (hopefully) fires a round. In the video below, [James] goes over the design of his action, and ends up showing off a few test firings of his newly designed gun.

What’s very interesting about this build is how closely the development of 3D printed firearms is following the development of historical firearms. First, we had guns that probably shouldn’t be fired, ever. Now, the technology for 3D printed guns is about up to 1830 or thereabouts. Give it a few more years and we’ll be up to 1911.

Disclaimer: if you live in the US and think this sort of thing should be illegal, contact your state representative and tell them you support a constitutional convention to remove the personal right to own and operate firearms. This right has been upheld many, many times by the judiciary, and a constitutional convention is the only way your wishes could be carried out. Your state representative probably doesn’t read Hackaday; there is no need to comment here. Let’s talk about engineering and technology instead.

149 thoughts on “Building A Better 3D Printed Gun

    1. “beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks”
      This project closes the loop and goes back the other way.
      In my opinion this makes a shovel much mote dangerous than a 3D printer.
      I think the most dangerous thing is a creative mind.
      I love the explanation of the mechanism in the original post. Guns are almost as interesting as clocks.

      1. “Guns are almost as interesting as clocks.”

        And for mostly the same reasons, I believe. Both require extreme precision in mechanical engineering in order to obtain decent results. And the result of both are exquisite and intricate mechanisms that perform a specific function.

      2. The most dangerous thing is a creative mind that is misused. As a means of making guns easier to have with some margin of safety, its pretty cool. As a responsible gun owner I find it a terrible idea. All that projects like this really end up doing is giving the anti-gun nuts more ammo. Just the same as the easy to mill AR lowers. I believe in the right and the need for the common man( the Militia) in the US to have guns. I don’t think we need to have guns that are designed to be terrifying in nature or can spray a ton of lead into the air with a single trigger pull. I have a hard time with some conceal carry laws even.

        I will state that I was a member of the NRA until they started to back the “need” for the common man to have weapons that were designed not with accuracy and safety in mind but with looking dangerous. I grew up on a farm where hunting was part of our food chain. I learned early that accuracy trumps speed any day. I also learned that a well placed .22 can be more deadly than a badly placed .45 and is much easier to accomplish. I learned to treat a gun like a tool, not like a toy.

        For those who scream about how this will make guns easier to get a hold of now, it really isn’t that hard to start with. A gun law only keeps guns out of the hands of those that follow the law. If you are planning to commit a crime with a gun, you are likely to commit a crime to get a gun.

        1. I think we have to recognize that there’s nothing that can be done about the problem of misused creative minds in a society that the rest of us would want to live in. Freedom has a cost, and it’s most prominent cost is the fundamental necessity of law enforcement to be reactive rather than proactive. That means that criminal acts – some of them monstrous – will happen with greater frequency. North Korea very likely has an infinitesimally low rate of violent crime, but nobody who’s family name isn’t Kim would agree that their societal model is anything like an ideal one.

          1. That’s just a different definition of “freedom”.

            Someone else might argue that a people that is reduced to only reacting when the shit hits the fan is not really free, because you’re precluding them from taking actions to problems that are predictable and preventable.

            It’s one thing to argue that the solution to this particular problem is worse than the problem itself, and a whole different thing entirely to deny the very possibility of even considering the solution because of your unilateral definition of what it means to be free.

            The upshot is, that a people who actually are free don’t have to mind what you think is free, because they’re free to do whatever they see fit.

          2. “you’re precluding them from taking actions to problems that are predictable and preventable.”

            DWB traffic stops are also ostensibly action in the prevention of crime that is predictable and preventable.

            “[It’s] a whole different thing entirely to deny the very possibility of even considering the solution because of your unilateral definition of what it means to be free.”

            Opinions – particularly about where the limits of freedom lie – are like assholes. Everyone has one, and they usually stink.

          3. “DWB traffic stops are also ostensibly action in the prevention of crime that is predictable and preventable.”

            Indeed. When you are actually free, you are also free to be racist and stupid.

            There are various ways in which freedom can be abused and misused, and none of them mean that freedom should be defined narrowly so that only what you consider free is permitted. Every definition of “freedom” that include clauses that essentially say you can’t do something are self-contradictory.

            A definition that says “the cost of freedom is…” is basically making the claim that you have to do something in order to be this “free”, which is already a restriction on your freedom. Well then, if you choose not to be “free”, what’s to stop you?

        2. ” If you are planning to commit a crime with a gun, you are likely to commit a crime to get a gun.”

          Sometimes, yes. But if Adam Lanza’s mother didn’t have guns at home, and if he were unable to buy guns at a store, I’m not sure he would have had the social skills or connections to obtain an illegal gun, and I kind of doubt he would have been inclined to resort to burglary or robbery. Similarly with the Dark Knight shooting guy, and maybe the Tucson shooting guy.

          IMHO we simply need to accept that “street criminals getting guns” and “crazy mass-shooters getting guns” are two orthogonal problems, and it’s okay if each requires a distinct approach. Keeping guns away from the Lanzas won’t keep them away from the Chicago gangs, but that’s okay. Something else can be done about the gangs.

          1. Well we’ll never know now will we? One thing is for sure about all of them, they were gutless fucking pussies that went were they knew THEY were safe from anyone ever providing resistance…

            Who’s the crazy ones again?

          1. The white elephant in the room is that gun manufacturers stand to profit from people shooting people. The more the people are scared and intimidated, the more guns they buy, because you’re selling the guns as an effective solution to their problem – whether it actually helps or not.

            Selling people scary guns is simply throwing more fuel into the fire. They are double-action: they intimidate the people who don’t have guns, and make the person with the gun believe they’re more powerful than they really are because they have a “tactial military weapon”. In this way, the gun manufacturers are attempting to create a specific kind of culture around guns, not centered on any proper use of guns, but simply having as many as possible to profit as much as possible.

            It’s a psychological thing, like how the tobacco industry sold cigarette shaped candy sticks in fake cigarette boxes to kids for the positive association. There’s every reason to want to curtail such behaviour.

          2. Ah yes… education…. maybe if we spent as much time educating people about guns (like we did up through the late 80’s) as we do media propaganda about ‘scary’ guns, maybe just maybe people wouldn’t be scared of them.

            I dunno, seemed to work well up to the point where we took them out of schools and made them scary, you know, for like 200 years…

        3. No human being has a right to force people to face gunmen unarmed as the government did and continues to do in France. Never – Ever can a living person earn a right to coerce other peaceful individuals into replacing their won personal choices with the coercive persons choices. No human can earn a right to designate himself or his own group or collective as the only ones allowed to defend themselves against deadly force with deadly force. Creating a victim underclass is criminal and should be dealt with like any other accessory to murder. Those on the outside of the special elites allowed self defense who promote such immoral force on peaceful humans are no better than voyeuristic fans of serial killing. All of these preferred killing zones (some as small as a school others as large as a country) are maintained by people threatening your immediate death with a gun or caging to impose choices upon you. It’s a culture of gutter violence designed to keep you helpless and in need of your wise overlords. Insisting people fight back by running, hiding or throwing their cell phone at gunmen is so vile a position, it’s a wonder anybody represents it as their own.

          1. Lax gun-ownership rules in France would simply arm the terrorists.

            Because the terrorists are part of the population – they’re citizens – and they could then obtain all the legal guns they want, amass and keep an undeground army completely legally without any fear from intervention from the authorities, and then simply wait for the signal. The gun laws as they are at least prevent a larger-scale operation because the risk of being discovered as you try to distribute the weapons increases exponentially the more people are involved. Not so if every would-be terrorist could simply walk into a store and buy a gun years before the act, and simply wait.

            The terrorists might not even know they’re going to be terrorists when they buy the guns, because they could own them anyways and get recruited later on, as the people are radicalized and polarized against each other.

            You can’t make a law that says “no muslim shall own a gun in France” without instantly making the whole social segregation problem worse.The second-amendment style militias only really work when the people is united against a common oppressor. If there is none, and the people are not of one mind, then handing everyone guns is just creating a powderkeg that is waiting to explode into a civil war.

          2. To Dax: “Lax gun-ownership rules in France would simply arm the terrorists.”

            Your comment misses the point, which is that the good people only played victims for lack of effective self-defense. Is the world more complicated than black and white? Yes. Does more access to guns help bad people too? I can’t say… But, “good” people without guns, for any definition of good, is bad, by definition.

            One shot could have saved dozens in France, and any where else people are victimized by those with more choices and leverage.

            Gun crime in the US is often cited exclusively as being bad, as if it couldn’t be worse if good people didn’t have guns either. Guns are used to protect and defend the innocent in the US too, but those numbers aren’t mentioned as part of the whole picture. It’s one-sided, with every shot only counting towards the “bad” team. It’s just not reality.

          3. “One shot could have saved dozens in France, and any where else people are victimized by those with more choices and leverage.”

            One shot at the wrong target – a mis-identified terrorist for example – could have also started a full-blown turf war and kill twice as many people. Once people have labeled someone else as an enemy, they’ll shoot first and ask the questions later.

            The main fallacy is in thinking that the people are able to identify real threats from simply other people with guns, which means that the terrorists can incite fear and confusion and conflict in the population until they simply start killing each other.

          4. No arachnidster, they were stopped by either a lack of ammunition, police finally showing up with guns, or a couple of brave souls taking one for the team… The victims were not allowed to be armed to protect themselves… ‘for their own safety’…

          5. @arachnidster– The perpetrators of the horrific mass shootings you refer to tend to pick areas where the victims can be expected to be unarmed- schools, churches, movie theaters that are posted as “no gun zones”, etc. Even in areas with more liberal gun laws, some areas remain off-limits to legal carry. This keeps the law-abiding “good guys” out, but for some reason, the prospect of committing a serious misdemeanor or minor felony (by carrying a weapon in a prohibited area) tends not to deter those preparing to commit multiple 1st degree or capital felonies.

          6. 3 days after the Paris shootings the US Police notched up their thousandth kill this year. Your police kill 10 times as many people per year as the worst terrorist attack in Europe for years. The vast majority of these killings were due to the gun culture in the US, and the way your police are scared of everyone else having guns, so all carry guns themselves and too frequently shoot as a first response.

        4. “A gun law only keeps guns out of the hands of those that follow the law. If you are planning to commit a crime with a gun, you are likely to commit a crime to get a gun.”
          A black market gun in Australia costs $30,000. That’s assuming that you have the connections to the black market. Which people going on shooting sprees likely don’t have. And it isn’t like you can just go in some random house and steal one. Nobody has any.

          Sure, somone who has no moral qualms about committing a crime will have no moral qualms about committing a crime to get a gun. But there is still the question of logistics that can’t be ignored.

      1. It’s telling, however, that the lower receiver is the part that you can’t readily get ahold of, as that’s the part of the weapon that bears the serial number and is therefore the focus of BATF regulations.

        The specter of “ghost guns” is, basically, people obtaining all of the other pieces of a gun openly and manufacturing their own lower receiver, resulting in a complete, unregistered weapon.

        See my other reply for more about those prospects.

        1. I have built several guns that way. Because it is allowed by federal law. And because it allows me to hand pick the components used to create a gun that suits my needs at less cost than going to a dealer.

  1. unfortunately, 3d printed guns remain highly illegal in the US for specific reasons. one distinction between a rifle or pistol versus a shotgun is the presence of a rifled barrel.

    not able to see rifling in the barrel? you’ve got a short barreled shotgun, my friend, and that’s VERY BAD.

    one quick solution – .22 barrel liner pressed into a .375 hole. jus’ sayin….

      1. Ithaca makes a 12-gauge one for many years called the Deerslayer, meant to shoot slugs. There are probably others. For ownership purposes most states treat shotguns and rifles the same, so long as the barrel is at least 18″ and it’s a pump/bolt action or double-barrel. If it’s a semi-auto it may require different licensing in some states (like my home state of MA) but again rifles and shotguns are treated the same.

        The big difference comes with hunting regulations. In many states, deer hunting is broken up by county into rifle, shotgun, and bowhunting-only areas based on how densely-populated they are. In some areas rifled shotguns are treated as rifles, others as shotguns.

      2. The Taurus Judge is a revolver that shoots 45 Long colt pistol ammo and 410 shotgun shells. Since the barrel is riffled most states classify it as a normal handgun. They are illegal in California, under California Law, they are considered a short-barreled shotgun.

    1. 18 U.S.C., § 921(A)(5) and 27 CFR § 478.11

      The term “Shotgun” means a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder, and designed or redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of the explosive in a fixed shotgun shell to fire through a smooth bore either a number of ball shot or a single projectile for each single pull of the trigger.

      I think that you could get away with owning it by A. Not notifying local law enforcement that you have one and B. Have a good lawyer in the event the law enforcement finds out.

    2. “unfortunately, 3d printed guns remain highly illegal in the US for specific reason

      Prove it. Cite the the paragrph in 18 USC Section 922 that says as an American I cannot make a gun on the 3D printer. As long as it has a certain amount of metal in it, and I don’t sell it, there is no problem.

    3. If anything it will be classified as “Any Other Weapon” under Federal law for being a smoothbore handgun.
      AOW requires a 5$ BATF stamp under the NFA and not the 200$ stamp.
      In any case you can make any NFA item yourself as long as you complete the form 1 and pay the tax this includes short barreled rifles, shotguns, silencers and new machine guns*

      *Post ban MG’s require a Class III license to make.

  2. What excites me about these developments has nothing to do with the second amendment, rather the first. In Bernstein v. US we came within a hair’s breadth of deciding that computer code was speech in the first amendment sense, when the government quickly mooted the case lest that happen.

    Defense Distributed’s latest effort is far more on-point. They are selling an inexpensive CNC mill that is capable of converting an “85%-er” into an AR-15 lower receiver. The significance of this is that the BTF regulations say that a block of aluminum that has had 85% or less of the operations done to make it a lower receiver is unregulated, but beyond that it is. And the lower receiver is the part of the gun where the serial number lives and is the focus of the regulation. The rest of the parts for an AR-15 are freely available.

    A CNC mill has many, many otherwise non-infringing uses, meaning that prior restraint on its distribution is untenable. The control files to instruct a CNC mill to convert an 85%er into a lower receiver is code, and ostensibly according to the 9th circuit, therefore speech, meaning that prior restraint has a far higher bar to cross.

    The impact of a ruling that code is speech would be profound and wide-reaching. I can’t even completely fathom the doors it would destroy, much less open.

  3. “Your state representative probably doesn’t read Hackaday; there is no need to comment here. Let’s talk about engineering and technology instead.”

    How about discussing whether or not this sort of post belongs on HaD? Is that okay?

  4. A clever design, that leverages the anisotropy of 3d printed parts.
    Does it have to be *strictly* 3d printed material, only? Someone above suggest using off-the-shelf barrel liners for the most highly wearing and stressed part of the design.
    Similarly, there was *just* a post on HaD a day or so ago about strengthening parts by using castable epoxies and urethane. The cylinder could potentially be printed semi-hollow, and then be filled up with a fiber-filled epoxy or something.

    1. i think he is already using a chamber insert,the video annotation during the test firing mentions it, how that differs from a barrel liner in this design is something i cant really suss out.

    2. As others have pointed out, if you really want to make a gun you’re better off with some bits of pipe and a metalwork bench, than a 3D printer. You can make a zip gun out of anything. You can fire a round with a nail and hammer. It’s really the ammo that has the dangerous part in it, the explosive charge.

      It’s a bit of a red herring. Anyone could make a low-quality gun if they wanted to. If you wanted a plastic one for some reason, again you’re probably better off with a hacksaw and some files.

    1. Safe my ass!

      Drop into almost any small town ER and take a look at the sort of mess kids make of themselves and/or others with this sort of thing.

      As one of my british colleagues likes to say. This is obviously some alternative definition of the word ‘safe’ which I’ve not previously encountered.

      For the hard of thinking: This is intended as sarcasm to emphasis a usually serious point. In this case, very serious point.

        1. And such a group of fine, upstanding members they are too.

          An alternative would be to disable comments but that would also cut off the people who want to discuss the engineering aspect. If you can find their comments in amongst all the ‘noise’.

      1. This is exactly why *I* never try to explain English expressions to Americans.

        Just like politicians, journalists, trendy lefties, etc. Most of the ones I’ve met have a very nasty tendency to deliberately ‘misinterpret’ anything they can.

  5. Hmmm… am I missing something here… is this really what the world needs, cheaper easier access to guns… I think there are probably more rewarding and interesting ways to spend you short time in this life, than figuring out how to shorten and destroy the lives of others.

    1. Not sure how is this cheap, as it requires the 3D printer and at least 20$ just in raw material, then there’s the time and energy…
      If you want a cheap hand gun, you’re better off of buying a used one. I’ll be more effective and much less likely to harm YOU when used as intended.

      as for shortening/destroying someones life – to completely avoid that, you’d have to kill yourself (even that in itself would probably shorten somebody else’s life), almost anything you do will have an impact on someone’s life, no way around that…

        1. “Crap. Just when I had finally talked myself into getting out of bed this morning.”

          Sorry about that Jim… I wouldn’t bother… slide back under the duvet with a hot coffee (or whatever other warming things come to hand), and let the world get on with shooting itself.. you sound like the only person with any sense round here…

  6. Im slightly saddened by your attitude, or lack of ethics. I understand the need to report on current 3d printing activity, but this is the ONE thing our government could grip on to take more freedoms away. This type of media attention towards the beginning of our version of the industrial revolution is nothing but harmful at the very least. This poses no real threat, i understand that. But its the idea behind it, that will ruin any future. Sandyhook with a 3s printed gun anyone? Media will take over and the sheeple will follow. 9/11 brought along the Patriot Act, letting these refugees into the US… What type of Act will be enacted once the inevitable attacks follow? God forbid they use 3d printed parts… And as for the second amendment… you’ve all forgot its true meaning. It was so we could overthrow our government if needed. Cause hell, back then all they had was guns. Bring your gun to a drone fight….goodnight. So all your reassuring, half humorous quotes may let you sleep at night, but its far from reality my friend. Ignoring the morality of an issue… should there ever be a good excuse?

      1. If you live in the US. Go read up on the patriot act. Rights have been gone. Side note. Everyone with a “dont tred on me” flag displayed is a tool. Ignorant tool. Were trappled on. Everyone is just so consumed with there own bs that no one can see more than 2 feet infront. Everyone complains and knows bout social security…… the scale cuts off at 70k income! Meaning, you pay more ss tax the more money you make, untill you get to 70k, it just stops. Donald Trump pays just as mush ss tax as most joe shmoes. Yea, dont tread on me….. get real people.

    1. Let’s talk about technology. I’ll try to be concise.

      I couldn’t care less about gun possession in the US. I don’t care why anyone needs one, and I don’t much care what anyone in the US does with one. (with the exception of what physically affects (effects?) me) I imagine it’s not hard to obtain a firearm legally, or even though a multitude of grayer means. If you want a gun, there are plenty of ways to get one. (hell, go to home depot and buy a length of pipe, It’ll prove far more durable a material and cost far less than a printer)

      That being said, I do care a hell of a lot about the future of 3D printing, in the home, school, and business. All it would take is a single incident even involving a 3D printed part. (if a firearm wielder were wearing a 3D printed keychain it would be enough, “they had the access to do it!”) Then every bit of “public relations” done to introduce the public to 3D printing (and the benefits to education, maintenance, and medicine) go right out the window.

      Toy companies coming after people with DMCA would be bad (we could deal with that), but for 3D printing this is far, far worse. People are and have been for some time been talking about the dangers of 3D printed weapons, all that’s needed is an example to point at. Anyone unhappy about how the word hacker became maligned by the public? People with a 3D printer become potential criminals in the eyes of the public, and the legislation hurried through will dwarf any other panic attack in recent memory. And supposing people look for some DRM scheme to make ‘safe’ printers, that’s going to kill of a LOT of companies and projects we kinda like, assuming you even can DRM a printer. (open-source printers with DRM? Forget about it!)

      Can I stop you from using a 3D printer to obtain a gun? no.
      Can I stop Defense Distributed from playing a legislative game of chicken with the US government? No, and I don’t care if they do, it’s their prerogative to do what they want and the legislation they might incite will probably never affect me.

      But PR spans borders and oceans, and I do wish people that want a gun so bad would go find a another fledgling technology to take advantage of. I can’t make people go find something else to do, but I do wish they would. (CNC milling anyone?)

      P.S. Defense distributed has a machine to automatically mill lower receivers, so maybe I might get my wish.

  7. The only way to stop bad guys with guns is with good guys with guns. In places (e.g. here in Wyoming) where Guns are legal, constitutional carry, etc. there is almost no crime and even few incidents of misuse – Guns are just another tool – and there are dangerous animals about. Accidents happen, but more happen on the roads. Ban cars? 25MPH speed limit?

    But to echo another above, this is where the second and first amendment intersect. We don’t normally put prior restraint on speech – you can say it, and in the rare case it is slander or incitement or a “true threat” you can get in trouble. The technology is all software – Guns are now publishable like PGP 5.0. “Ugly Gun”, “Spray Lead”, how can you tell or decide what arms you have the right to? The police are getting military equipment that I can’t see being used for a police purpose. But we just had the massacre in Paris. A handgun that has 6 bullets won’t stop 12 terrorists. Something that “sprays lead” would. But that is the threat there.

    There are also “perverse incentives”. I’m near a school, so it is a violation of some federal law to have a gun “used in interstate commerce”. Oh. So the only way I can legally have a gun under federal law here is to make my own. OK, My Ghost Gunner is on order, but I’m not only going to use it to do one…

    1. Hooray, arguments about gun control!

      Number of accidental gun deaths in the US in 2010: 600[1]
      Average number of people killed by wild animals[2] in the US per year: 63.15[3]

      [2]: Excluding small animals like bees, wasps, and spiders, which I’m assuming a gun won’t do much good against. I’m being charitable and assuming you’re somehow able to shoot at the shark.

      1. Number shot by US police this year so far 909 – and yes most were not innocent victims but few (or none if you’re a christian) deserved to die.

          1. It certainly means less every passing year. The third amendment is basically moot, the ninth amendment has been thoroughly worked-around by relying on the commerce clause (which itself has been turned into a truism by declaring that blowing your nose has an impact on interstate commerce), the sixth amendment doesn’t apply for infractions and misdemeanors anymore. Shall I go on?

      1. The presumption that any person can earn a right to be the “allow’r” is the flaw in this argument. If we accept in any circumstances a person can earn or posses the right to choose for another peaceful emancipated adult, then Liberty has already failed. No person has a right to force another to face a madman unarmed. Those who do should go to prison as accessories to the crime. They are criminals all around us we are failing to yield. I yield no wiggle room. I can hear the announcement now. “We’ve renamed out police “Bobby” and all their weapons have been locked away We’ll be by to collect yours shortly. Fairness.” The size of the massacre in France, the majority of the casualties are because of these “allow’rs” and the force they used to prevent people who wished to defend themselves from doing so. I reject any argument that there is any person who has a right to preserve these easy victim zones. Prison for the lot of them.

        1. Do you know what the terrorists in France really want?

          They want people to be scared, to start shooting each other in paranoia, to destabilize the society and make the whole place a mess like Syria, in order to then pull off a coup in the middle of the confusion.

          Arming the people to the teeth would grant them that in a day, because the people are not competent in identifying who is a terrorist and who is not – in a society where already people are rioting and burning cars over social tensions between groups – and any mistake would be met with return fire, which would justify even more violence in return.

          That’s a can of worms you do not want to open.

      1. Do a quick Wikipedia check. A comparison and contrast with a country that has historically had a high crime and murder rate, with incredibly restrictive gun ownership and usage laws might illustrate problems with your argument. Mexico has MUCH more restrictive laws (the only legal gun shop in the country is one Army base in Mexico City), but the homicide rate by firearm is equal to that in the USA. However, for the same time periods, the overall homicide rate was almost TRIPLE that of the USA. So in addition to a comparable rate of death by firearm (indicating that restrictive laws did nothing to reduce that), there was an additional component of almost two deaths by other means (knives, beatings, burning, vehicular homicide, etc…). So this would indicate that legal restrictions are ineffective, but social culture is still the most viable explanation for variable murder rates in different countries.

        US Americans are more violent than Europeans, but not as violent as Mexican Americans?

        1. Also, funny thing about Mexico that none of the other countries have: a very long border with a country with exceptionally lax gun ownership laws. Want to bet where most illegal guns in Mexico come from?

  8. I don’t think that Hackaday should end up in the guns debate, and I’m a bit saddened that Brian chose the wording of his disclaimer as he did.

    Brian asserts that changing the constitution would be necessary to remove the “personal right to own and operate firearms”. This is incorrect.

    Until 2008 the regulation of firearms consistent with operating a state militia was the standard interpretation of the US 2nd Amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    In particular, see US v Miller (1939) which was the law of the land for the 70 years prior to 2008.

    In 2008, in DC v Heller, by a party-line 5-4 vote, the Supremes essentially wrote in the “individual right” stuff by disregarding the first half (that bit about the militia) of the 2nd Amendment. There was no change in the constitution, but its legal interpretation _was_ changed.

    See the Heller decision ( and Stevens’s dissent (

    Contrary to Brian’s statement: “This right has been upheld many, many times by the judiciary, and a constitutional convention is the only way your wishes could be carried out”, the right of States (in contrast to the Federal government) to regulate their arms was the law of the land from the early 1800’s until 2008. In comparison, there has been very little gun-control legislation in the post-Heller regime.

    Nonetheless, the individual-right (as opposed to states’-right) interpretation of the 2nd Amendment is the current interpretation, and has been for _seven whole years!_, without any intervening constitutional conventions.

    But even so, concealed weapons and “dangerous and unusual” weapons are still controllable, and this loophole has kept particular weapons — assualt rifles, etc — illegal. Requiring that guns have serial numbers and be registered has also not been ruled in violation of the 2nd Amendment.

    Whether or not 3D-printed weapons are “dangerous and unusual” in the sense of the law is up to the states. Whether they comply with (individual states’) gun registration laws is another issue. The law here is _not_ settled, as Brian claims. And it’s not uniform across the 50 states either.

    And, for better or worse, we are only one Supreme-Court-Judge away from potentially reversing the individual-rights interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. It is, after all, a relatively new precedent.

    This is Hackaday, and I don’t think that we’re well-served with legal debates. However, Brian’s disclaimer is factually inaccurate. The situation is not cut-and-dried; the current state of the law is new and contentious, and it’s open to states’ interpretation as to what constitutes “dangerous and unusual”. Unregistered, 3D-printed weapons are definitely uncharted legal territory.

    Standard disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer, but it’s very likely that I’ve dated more DC constitutional lawyers (that being one) than most folks.

    For more background on Heller:
    but honestly, the Supreme Court’s rulings are pretty readable. And they’re the primary resource. (And the law.)

    1. Relax, Scalia says it’s okay for officials to ignore Supreme Court decisions they don’t agree with, unless they’re dealing with the specific people involved in the case.

      “In the evening’s most important comment, he declared that though Supreme Court rulings should generally be obeyed, officials had no Constitutional obligation to treat as binding beyond the parties to a case rulings that lack a warrant in the text or original understanding of the Constitution. Without prompting from me, he cited Lincoln’s treatment of Dred Scott. As it happened, I had a copy of Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address with me (you never know when you’ll need it), so I read Lincoln’s words on the case to the audience.”

      Princeton Professor Robert George, describing a public discussion he held with Scalia recently.

      Scalia was thinking about Obergefell, of course, implying that government officials are free to ignore it and discriminate against gays. But it surely would apply just as much to Heller.

    2. Assault rifles are NOT illegal as long as they are semi-automatic, contain less than 10 imported parts and comply with the CGA and NFA regulations. Clinton’s assault weapon ban expired in 2004.

      1. The term “assault rifle” comes from the Sturmgewehr 44 (literally “Storm rifle” or “assualt rifle” model of 1944), the first really practical selective-fire infantry weapon. It was an effort to provide increased firepower to individual infantrymen for assaulting heavily defended positions. The Kalashnikov AK-47 and the M-14 and M-16 were refinements or reinterpretations of the assault rifle concept. The essential feature of a true assault rifle is of course the fact that it it’s selective fire: flip a lever and your rifle is now a light machine gun.

        NONE of the weapons currently on the civilian market – not the AR-15, not any of the SiGs or HKs or AK-47 clones, not even the Springfield M1A or the Thompson copies that Auto-Ordinance sells, qualify as “assault rifles”, because NONE of them are capable of firing full-auto, nor are any of them modifiable TO fire full-auto. Internally, for example, an AR-15 is different enough from its military dopplegangers the M-16 and M-4 that it cannot be made to fire more than one round at a time. All the “tactical” stocks, pistol grips, 30 round magazines, accessory rails, lasers, IR scopes, flash suppressors or bipods you care to hang on your hideously expensive tricked out AR will NEVER turn that AR into an M-16. NOT GONNA HAPPEN.

        Of course, this trenchant and to-the-point discourse on the ins and outs of the armorer’s trade matters not a whit to the Administration or the Congress or to their fellow-travelers on the television news anchor desk. WHY it doesn’t matter I leave to another rant at another time. :)

        1. Well said. And this is the exact reason assault rifles are legal in the US, because they are semi-auto only. And even though M-16 bolt carriers are easy to get a hold of, the full auto / burst sear used in the M-16 is considered a firearm itself, and requires a dealers license to buy in the US, although there are plans available to make your own (illegally).

  9. Asking readers not to comment on the ethical side of this is the stupidest thing I’ve seen on here. ( Maybe the first really stupid thing I’ve seen here). We, your readers, are exactly what make your customers (aka advertisers) pay to make the site possible. Whatever your personal stance, let’s call a spade a spade, hackaday has taken an editorial position by running this. One which will offend some of your readers and cost you some readers. Maybe it will attract more, maybe you don’t care, who knows. It certainly lowers my opinion of the site, though not enough to stop coming back. But asking us not to comment “because we discuss engineering” is patently absurd. You sure as hell wouldn’t run DIY plans for chemical or nucleur weapons for instance, no matter how beautiful the engineering. Please don’t insult our intelligence and we won’t have to insult yours.

  10. An expert in English language usage was asked about the meaning of the 2nd amendment text,

    Despite not knowing which side of the debate it was for, and even being for gun control himself, the expert nevertheless concluded that “A well regulated militia” clause did not restrict the individual right to keep and bear arms any more than “A well schooled electorate” would restrict the first amendment. Perhaps someone else argued in this manner to win the Heller case.

    1. Ah, the “what is the militia” question… let’s see what the folks around the formation of the Constitution considered that term to mean…

      Exemplary quote: “I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.” – Speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 14, 1778, George Mason

  11. I am disappointed at your ‘Disclaimer’, which indicates, in a casual manner, that we should actually change our constitution! Are you smoking crack? Did it ever occur to you that many people much wiser than you, the very people who created this country, thought that personal gun ownership was a good thing? As far as amendments go, it’s the second one, right after freedom of speech, which you obviously enjoy. Maybe you don’t like guns. You don’t need to. But to advocate we casually destroy a fundamental right, that in essence makes us Americans, makes you look like a fucking moron.

    1. Sure, I can understand if you need them to hunt or protect yourself from wild animals, or live in an area where robbing and house murders are somewhat common, but other than that, I don’t understand why you need to have unsupervised, unlimited access to guns.

      I’m an advocate of gun control in the sense of actual control, rather than total banning.

      The circumstances in the 1800s were significantly different than they are now, and it’s debatable as to whether guns are a fundamental right.

    2. The Constitution could be changed, to put rational limits and conditions on gun ownership (such as specifying good mental health, no criminal record, etc.). Changing the Constitution doesn’t necessarily imply removing the 2nd completely.

      Anyone who isn’t in denial has to admit that the current situation isn’t working out very well for the US.

    3. I think the disclaimer was merely intended to point people away from Hackaday if they want to debate about how gun laws need to be more strict, etc. That way the conversation could be more focused about the technology, design, etc, rather than an endless debate about gun control. Though I agree the way it was worded makes it almost sound like a call to action, I don’t think that was the intention.

  12. I’m not reading any of these comments, because I know it’s just going to be the same fallacious, repetitive bullshit arguments I see everywhere else guns are discussed. I’m for control, by the way.

    Not reading any of the replies, either.

  13. Here’s an idea: Just delete any comments on this article about gun rights, and leave the discussion clean for the engineering aspects of it.

    Take for example my own posture: I’m not a very big fan of guns or private ownership thereof, but that doesn’t stop me from finding these articles fascinating.

    1. That looks like one helluva print. Which points out what should be obvious: instead of wasting time and effort trying to make guns out of inferior materials that will blow up on you, the emphasis should be on making better/cheaper printers that can print metals. The same applies to a number of other applications, like fully “printed” multilayer circuit boards. It’s all about updating processes that have traditionally been subtractive, to include additive capabilities that are more amenable to automated production. I don’t know how many separate machining steps go into building an M1911-type pistol, but that’s just one of many complex designs that’s way overdue for some major manufacturing improvements. For the moment, most additive fabrication technologies are slower and more expensive than traditional subtractive methods, but they’re catching up fast.

  14. I think the debates don’t need to be here myself so I’d suggest the original author trim his disclaimer down to just the first part about not doing it here and remove the rest where he makes his opinion on the subject clear and starts the debate.

      1. And the availability of parts for making nuc and 3d printer are on par….get real. This is trash media that has no positive influence on the tech. That exactly why this has no place one hack a day. Thank you

  15. I don’t live in the US, so I think the disclaimer does not apply to me.

    I don’t care if people print guns on their 3D printer, but I do think that combine these guns with potentially deadly ammunition should be restricted.

    Btw., does your constitution say anything about the right to fill the arms you are allowed to bear with bullets? Does it say anything about the type of arms you may carry? When will someone create a WMD at home and cite the constitution to defend it?

    1. The interpretation of the 2nd amendment has generally recognized the right to weapons that would be carried and used by individuals, such as rifles and handguns, and not weapons that would be crew-served such as mortars, cannon, rockets, etc. Under such an interpretation, WMDs would not be part of the recognized right to bear arms.

      I don’t think I recall any specific arguments for/against the implicit inclusion of ammunition as part of the right to arms, but I am confident that any such loophole has been thoroughly explored by anti-gun groups, and if weaknesses were found they would have been exploited.

  16. Just something to think about, In America, we have car licenses, dog licenses and in some places bicycle licenses but yet people still own and use cars, dogs, and bicycles. all of these things are less deadly than guns, but no one has a problem with them being regulated. What makes guns so different?

    1. Um, I don’t see references to cars, dogs or bicycles in the constitution or bill or rights. In America, we don’t have a right to have those things, we have a privilege to have them.

      1. “As far as the government of the United States of America is concerned, we don’t have licenses for cars, dogs or bicycles. That’s the work of state and municipal governments. ~ Jordan”

        Wrong. The existing state level drivers license were overhauled in the last few years to meet Federal guidelines for the National ID. The Feds knew that there would be an uproar about a national ID (in addition to the already abused Social Security Number) and so they forced the states to do this for them by doing what the Feds do best, threating to keep tax dollars (provided to the Feds by the various states) if the states don’t comply and in this case it s with the plan to create a common National ID that is administered/managed at the state level as drivers license but which are dictated at the Federal level.

  17. I feel my point was lost. This doesnt need to be so disected and sorce cited. It needs to be dropped at the least if not taken down. This avenue of 3d tech gives power to the people that wish to censor. As an extreamly long time visitor, this is disheartening. Everyone feasting on this topic in such narrow mindend aproach honestly is just plain frightening. How the author cant see how this can be damaging to the continued freedom of this tech is shocking. This is selling out at it finest. Congrats. Hope this was worth the advertising. S

  18. There is no need for a Constitutional Convention, you merely need to pass an amendment in Congress and have it ratified by 3/4 of the several states. That is how they did & un-did prohibition.

  19. This Cody Wilson character seems so cartoonish with his attitude that i had honestly wondered if this was set up to make the diy 3d printing industry look bad. But then again there are machinist with similar anarchist attitudes churning out ar15 lower receivers without numbers because its technically legal in the areas of the U.S. that they do it. Im not certain but you might need a common gunsmith license to sell them.

  20. The articles are 3d printing guns are usually neat but the comments are a complete mess. The comments are half the reason I read HaD – people know about the tech, make suggestions and note caveats, link more/better/related tech. I say either remove EVERY political, or don’t make the post.

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