Print Your Gun Parts at Home

New technology challenges gun control laws.



In February, the techie gun-rights group Defense Distributed unveiled a 3D-printed lower receiver for an AR-15 rifle that withstood hundreds of rounds of fire. A YouTube video of the component in action was accompanied by the terse statement, "Does not fail from firing stresses. 600+ rounds." 

This impressive development came just months after the group earned some ribbing for its first attempt at a homebrewed plastic receiver (the core of the AR-15 and the component that is technically regulated by law), which disintegrated after six shots. But success followed failure, as Defense Distributed unveiled a high-capacity rifle magazine that could be manufactured in a home workshop on a 3D printer. They named it Cuomo after New York's governor, who recently pushed a new, stricter magazine limit through the state legislature. 

3D printers, which are getting cheaper by the day, lay down layers of plastic or powdered metal to produce solid objects. Using digital specs that Defense Distributed plans to make available online, individuals will be able to produce this vital component of a gun that has become highly controversial (and popular) since the Newtown and Aurora massacres.

In February, Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) announced his intention to impose a legal barrier to the home manufacture of firearms and magazines. Defense Distributed's official response: "Good luck."