The man who created the world’s first 3D-printed plastic gun has created a new device that allows users to print untraceable, metal AR-15 lower receivers at home.
Last year, Cody Wilson gained worldwide media attention for inventing the world’s first functioning 3D-printed plastic gun, the “Liberator.” This week, Wilson and his company Defense Distributed are back in the headlines for their newest creation: the “Ghost Gunner.”
The $1,200 device is a desktop CNC machine—similar to a 3D printer—that can transform almost any 80-percent complete AR-15 lower receiver blank into a fully functioning part. With the device and additional rifle components, a user can assemble a working AR-15 without a serial number from home. Load the part’s design into the device’s software, add the 80 percent blank to the machine itself, and in under an hour you’ll have a working AR-15 lower receiver.
It’s groundbreaking technology that presents a number of political challenges. See it action in the promo below.
80-percent lower receivers are legal, and are readily available online and at most gun shops. As a stand-alone part, they’re useless – just billets of steel shaped like a part. Finish the remaining 20 percent of the design and you’ll have one of the most important components of an AR-15.
The lower receiver connects the rifle’s stock, barrel, magazine and other components. Each component—except for the lower receiver—can be purchased piecemeal through legal retailers. Functioning AR lower receivers on the other hand are not as easy to come by. They typically have more government regulations.
But with the Ghost Gunner, anyone can make a functioning lower receiver without the government or law enforcement ever knowing it was made.
That’s troubling for California lawmakers who want to serialize AR-15 lowers and restrict 3D printed weapons. The politician who spoke at the beginning of the video included earlier in this post is California State Senator Kevin de León. He authored the “Ghost Gun” bill that would have required homemade and 3D-printed firearms in California to have serial numbers. On Tuesday, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the bill. Wilson also had qualms with the law.
So much so that Wilson used De Leon’s political term “Ghost Gun” to craft the name for the Ghost Gunner. He’s even copyrighting “Ghost Gun” so that he can control how lawmakers gun-control advocates use the term.
If that sounds like the work of someone who doesn’t like the government, you’re spot on. Wilson is an outspoken opponent of laws that require serial numbers on 3D printed and homemade weapons. He’s a sort of techno-anarchist that believes the public should be able to freely produce firearms without government regulation.
“You can have an unserialized toothbrush, and you can have an unserialized rifle,” Wilson told CNET. “This is important to me.”
While Wilson is clearly trying to make a profit off the Ghost Gunner, he seems to be motivated by subversion. At least- that’s how it all appears in the promos and hype surrounding the product.
Anarchistic, groundbreaking, revolutionary, irresponsible—whatever you want to call it—the “Ghost Gunner” could have a significant impact on how AR-15s and other firearms are made and distributed in the US.