Video: How 3-D printers will make magazine-capacity limits obsolete

posted at 4:01 pm on February 19, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

I’ll admit to being a rube about 3-D printing technology, and its implications for issues like gun control and other kinds of restrictive laws on devices, so this video from the Washington Post is an eye-opener for me.  Travis Lerol builds a receiver for his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle in the convenience of his own home, or at least the casing for it; some of the other components have to be bought separately.  None of those are restricted — yet, anyway — and the only issue preventing people from creating their own high-capacity magazines for their firearms is just the need for a design:

It might be possible to build the weapons themselves, although the technology for that would still require significant contributions of components other than plastic:

Twenty minutes into his State of the Union address last week, President Obama entered the realm of uber-geekery — three-dimensional printing. The magical devices capable of printing prosthetics, violins and even aircraft parts have the potential, the president said, “to revolutionize the way we make almost everything.”

Forty miles away from the Capitol, in Glen Burnie, Md., Travis Lerol is proving Obama’s point — with guns. …

Though printing guns is a craft still in its infancy — Lerol hasn’t tested his parts yet at a gun range — technology experts, gun rights proponents and gun safety advocates say the specter of printable firearms and ammunition magazines poses a challenge for Obama and lawmakers as they craft sweeping gun-control legislation.

One controversial idea, pushed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), is to outlaw high-capacity magazines. But some proponents of 3-D printed guns have already made high-grade plastic replicas.

“Obviously, that has to be one of her nightmares,” said Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, a lobbying group opposed to additional restrictions. “If her ban was to pass and this technology moves beyond its infancy, Dianne Feinstein is going to have a bit of a challenge.”

Custom-made firearms aren’t exactly new, but precision is difficult to achieve.  Not any more:

Making guns for personal use has been legal for decades, but doing so has required machining know-how and a variety of parts. With 3-D printers, users download blueprints from the Internet, feed them into the machine, wait several hours and voila.

Attempting to revive the 1994 assault-weapons ban ignores the lack of impact it had on gun violence, a point made repeatedly since its 2004 expiration and the subsequent annual decline in overall gun deaths and the small percentage of those related to rifles of any kind. It’s politically and statistically obsolete — and now it’s close to being technologically obsolete, too.  Perhaps government should focus on the criminals and the crime rather than on the legal possessors of firearms in the future.

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