AUSTIN, Texas — In 2013, Cody Wilson printed the Liberator. The Liberator was the first 3D-printed firearm. His goal was simple. It was to make all gun control obsolete.
Wilson hoped that the gun world would embrace 3D printing and other methods of getting around gun control. Wilson’s dream came to fruition. Talented gun designers used computer-aided drawing (CAD) software to design and print firearms at home on 3D printers that cost as low as $100. At the same time, companies like Polymer80 sprung up to sell kits that let home users finish a piece of plastic into an unserialized firearm frame.
The revolution caused the Biden administration to order the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to make new rules to prevent the dissemination of these kits that he and other anti-gun zealots demonized as “ghost guns.” The ATF rolled out a new rule that would make it a crime to sell a frame blank with a jig, but the market adapted. This adaptation once again forced the ATF’s hand. Two days after Christmas in 2022, the ATF would give anti-gun groups a belated gift. It would unilaterally declare frame blanks firearms. Giffords, Brady, and Everytown celebrated the closing of the so-called “ghost gun loophole” and the banning of “tools of criminals.”
Their victory would be short-lived as the injunctions from Federal courts in Texas started rolling in. First, it was 80% Arms, then Wilson’s Defense Distributed, and finally, Polymer80, meaning the original kits were back on the market. Although most of the industry was now back to selling the original product, liberal states started banning the sale of unfinished firearm frames and receivers.
Defense Distributed would take these states head-on by releasing a 0% AR-15 lower receiver for the company’s Ghost Gunner, a desktop CNC machine. The 0% lower was a hit with the gun-building community. All the user had to do was mill out the middle section of the lower and attach it to a top piece and a lower portion. Even if a state were to ban 80% AR-15 lowers, it would be impossible to ban a block of aluminum, although states like California have tried to ban the Ghost Gunner itself.
Wilson and Ghost Gunner are now tackling handguns by releasing a 0% handgun fire control unit (FCU).
All the user has to do is mill out the FCU using the Ghost Gunner 3 (aluminum) or the Ghost Gunner 3S (stainless steel) and install Gen 3 Glock parts. The user can then print the chassis on a 3D printer using the files supplied by Defense Distributed or buy a pre-printed chassis from the Ghost Gunner website and add a complete slide and barrel.
Mr. Wilson, who has faced some controversy over a relationship with a 16-year-old girl who lied about her age and claimed to be 18, recently had the case against him dropped, which frees him up to keep attacking ATF regulations.
“This is a homecoming ten years in the making,” Wilson told AmmoLand News. “The 0% pistol allows anyone to make a Glock type pistol in their own home with just a Ghost Gunner and a 3D-printer.”
This move by Defense Distributed, along with advancements in 3D printing, is the downfall of gun control. No matter what bans the government institutes, the market will adapt. With the rise of cheap 3D printers and machines like the Ghost Gunner, it has never been easier to circumvent gun control laws.
Let me make it clear, 3D-printing and CNC machining firearms are not illegal on a federal level. I also do not believe there is a will in Congress to attack that aspect of gun control because it will highlight that technology is empowering the people. The machines are available everywhere, from Amazon to Microcenter. The files live in cyberspace, where anyone can download them. Even if the files were banned (huge First Amendment legal challenge), they still would be traded anonymously on the Dark Web and by using VPN services.
The signal cannot be stopped. The internet has ushered in the fall of gun control, and there is nothing the Biden administration or states like California can do about it.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at www.crumpy.com.