When Cody Wilson revealed the world’s first fully 3-D printed gun last year, he showed that the “maker” movement has enabled anyone to create a working, lethal firearm with a click in the privacy of his or her garage. Now he’s moved on to a new form of digital DIY gunsmithing. And this time the results aren’t made of plastic. Wilson’s latest radically libertarian project is a PC-connected milling machine he calls the Ghost Gunner. 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. That simple chunk of metal has become the epicenter of a gun control firestorm. A lower receiver is the body of the gun that connects its stock, barrel, magazine and other parts. As such, it’s also the rifle’s most regulated element. Mill your own lower receiver at home, however, and you can order the rest of the parts from online gun shops, creating a semi-automatic weapon with no serial number, obtained with no background check, no waiting period or other regulatory hurdles. http://www.wired.com/2014/10/cody-wilson-ghost-gunner/
Well if industry can make these things (the chemicals), enthusiasts probably can too (mercury fulminate was discovered in 1800). And from what I can tell, rounds for the AR-15 range from $0.30 [gunbot.net] to $1.50 [gunbot.net].
Remember the various surges in gun/ammo purchases [forbes.com]? Even rumors [vice.com] trigger a flurry of ammo buying activity. Don't forget state-by-state efforts [latimes.com] to regulate guns in the aftermath of massacres.
The industry portion of the gun lobby just grows more powerful as guns and ammo fly off the shelves:
(Forbes) The increased demand has prompted ammunition makers in the U.S. to expand facilities, add new shifts and streamline production. Federal Premium says, “Our facilities operate 24-hours a day. We are continually making process improvements to increase our efficiency and investing in capital and personnel where we have sustained demand. We are bringing additional capacity online again this year.”
Back to the Newtown massacre. Political will to regulate guns peaked around that time, Obama and other politicians were quite outspoken on the need for new laws. The public opinion shift as measured a year later? A small bump in desire to regulate, and a large bump in anti-gun control sentiment [pewresearch.org].
The genie can't be put in the bottle fast enough, no matter what gun control regulation is being considered, and assuming the political will exists to pass it among Republicans. Rounds will be stockpiled. CAD files will become CAD torrents. 3D printers will get cheaper and escape attempts to regulate. The ideology will help to foster a cooperative black market. On Wilson's own CNC mill, I read more about it and confirmed that it could create things that aren't lower receivers. In the next couple of decades, if people can create printers that spit out ammunition or drugs, they will do it.