Texas' Printable Gun Guys Actually Printed -- and Fired -- a Gun

Categories: Technology

PrintableGunFiring.jpg
When Cody Wilson, a libertarian-minded University of Texas law student, first announced plans to fabricate a gun using a 3-D printer in hopes of radically democratizing access to firearms, it seemed a bit like tilting at windmills, especially after the printer he was using was seized.

But Wilson forged ahead, getting help from a San Antonio defense firm, freaking out the New York Times and eventually creating The Cuomo, a 30-round AR-15 magazine.

Now, BBC reports that Wilson has made -- and fired -- the real thing. The process is pretty simple: Design the gun's components on the computer, feed the instructions into the 3-D printer Wilson got off eBay for $8,000, and snap the pieces together. The firing pin -- an ordinary metal nail -- is the only thing not made by the printer.

The end product is rather ugly, with none of the primal allure of brushed steel, but it gets the job done. The BBC piece ends with Wilson firing the thing, dubbed The Liberator by Wilson. He's still sticking to the original plan to put the blueprints online for anyone to access, free of charge.

And thus begins a brave new world in which anyone can get their hands on a working gun. All you need is a 3-D printer, which, come to think of it, is rarer and several times more expensive than an actual gun. Still, though: BE AFRAID.

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51 comments
TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

Wake me up when we can print something useful, like a pizza .

maryjfrosty
maryjfrosty

This is all so stupid you can make a gun for 5 dollars at home depot and assemble it in minutes anyone can go buy shotgun rounds and do it. literally takes two pieces of  plumbing some glue and something smal attached to an end cap to act as a pin......Homemade firearms are nothing new. What is special is a lot more specific than the fact that people can just make a gun at home. whats so special about this is anyone is now capable of manufacturing some very sophisticated firearms with little to no skill

Joshua Mcneely
Joshua Mcneely

You can get a build it yourself 3D printer kit for 200 bux and make whatever you want. It's not expensive at all.

Tyler Strange
Tyler Strange

Kelli that is not the point at all. He just wanted to prove you can make anything out of a 3d printer. Even complex mechanisms with a single machine. I am glad we live in a world were technology is screamingly increasing in advancement.

Barry Boyd
Barry Boyd

We used to teach metal shop in high school so that the common man would be proficient at operating a lathe, mill, and shaper. Take away the manufactured firearms, and the citizens will just start making their own. Read some history. Whats the government gonna do, take away the steel? Now we got plastic. We will not go peacefully into the night!

Jimmy James
Jimmy James

And, anyone can already make their own working firearm out of conventional materials/means using easily available instructions (because it's legal), as long as BATFE rules are followed. 3-D printing's not much of a game changer IMO.

Jimmy James
Jimmy James

Don't know if the author has any firearms experience, but he should know that successfully alluring firearms are typically blued steel. A firearm with a brushed steel finish would be potentially impractical and universally ugly.

tape_is_glue_and_bac
tape_is_glue_and_bac

It's not safe to murder a large group anymore, you never know who might shoot you in the back.

 Bummer. 

jwest567
jwest567

Really interesting story.

Sidenote: does the author have any idea what "tilting at windmills" means?

Russ Coffman
Russ Coffman

These are for Americans killing other Americans if you read the right-wing blogs.

Joshua Mcneely
Joshua Mcneely

We can print organs why would this be so hard? lol

Erik Ashby Hubner
Erik Ashby Hubner

The point is that we are developing a technology that can create functioning complex mechanisms, its not so much about what they made as much as it is about that they can even make it.

Kelli Sanders
Kelli Sanders

The point is that these fools want to make untraceable guns. And they'll be able to get on planes with them. Feelin safer already.

Alejandro Monjaras
Alejandro Monjaras

What's the point? You can also make a gun from items found around the house, google homemade guns.

John Nguyen
John Nguyen

"This compact disc burner cost so much money, this is stupid it's cheaper to buy the music album haha." Newer technologies tend to be expensive when they're first launched. The prices will come down. This new product category has a chance to become mainstream.

Alejandro Monjaras
Alejandro Monjaras

This plastic printers cost so much money, this is stupid it's cheaper to buy a real gun haha

DucatiRider
DucatiRider

Freedom, you have it or you don't.

When the government is angry that you are making something that is constitutionally protected, then clearly the government is tyrannical.

DktrStrangelove
DktrStrangelove

Could this video be a little more overblown? The soaring music is ludicrous.

frakkero
frakkero

Indeed, be extremely afraid of gun-control fear mongers and their laughable mongering.

ryfitz
ryfitz

"Be Afraid"   - No doubt where you stand on the gun issue. Misleading people to think that a 3d printer costs, 8 grand. It is our inalienable right to own a firearm. Everyone needs one in their home. If a criminal / government comes to steal from you, whether your belongings or your rights as a free human being, you have the means to protect yourself.  You can call the police for a break-in, but they will just be there to bag your dead body after the perp kills you and your family. 

bealotcoolerifyoudid
bealotcoolerifyoudid

So we have Fans of the NRA and this article to start the week.  Is this week's theme going to be guns?

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

"The firing pin -- an ordinary metal nail -- is the only thing not made by the printer."

Not entirely true.  There is also a non-functional steel plate that is part of it, because there is a law banning the possession of a firearm that isn't easily detectable by magnetometers.  

roo_ster
roo_ster

No need to be afraid of the diffusion of manufacturing capability, be it guns or tractor parts. Well, UPS and Fedex might want to be afraid.  (I have many times paid more for shipping than the part and remember those times with little joy.)

Because folks who live in BFE may decide to download a 3-D scan of a product or part and print it instead of buying it and having it shipped.  They might even do so with the acquiescence of the part manufacturer, who could supply the schematic to feed the printer for some discount relative to the cost of the part.  This would be especially useful for, say, farmers in the middle of West Texas (or West Africa) who own some John Deere machinery and break a part.   

I can envision 3-D print shops popping up in small towns and servicing the surrounding areas.  At first, lots of their products might be pirated scans/schematics, but later the smarter manufacturers will set up licensing agreements to keep their customers happy in the middle of West Texas (West Africa).  

"This year, in 2025, the John Deere Factory OEM Parts Department sold $159million in physical parts and $83million in virtual parts.  By 2035, we expect the virtual parts market to quadruple as 3-D printers become available in Africa and South Asia, making our machinery the most easily-serviced and economical agricultural equipment on the planet and helping to feed the poorest of the poor." [Excerpt from "Deere & Company Annual Report, 2025.]

This is a wonderful technology with wonderful possibilities, only _one_ of which is to monkeywrench the dreams of fascists from taking away the ability of free men and women to arm themselves with firearms.

JohnConnor
JohnConnor

This technology is way too scary. What happens when they make other 'printable' weapons say, like a club, knife, or God forbid, a bow and arrow? Jeez... WTF!?!  What if Cyberdyne Systems becomes self-aware!?!

observist
observist topcommenter

I'd like to see a credibly-sourced venn diagram of Libertarians, Gun Enthusiasts and Texans.  I predict the area encompassed by all 3 circles would be larger than the non-overlapping area.

Sharon_Moreanus
Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

I'm more afraid of what crap you'll blog about next.

observist
observist topcommenter

@roo_sterAll the wonderful possibilities, like sociopath teenagers printing guns to kill their teachers, ex-cons with restraining orders printing guns to kill their abused wives,  schizophrenics printing guns to shoot their congressmen, and Chechen jihadis printing guns to kill strangers on the street!  I can't wait for the new utopia of home manufacturing to free us from the tyrannical oppression of background checks!

11,000 gun murders and another 20,000 gun suicides every year in the US, and you think the danger is a fascist government takeover of the oldest, most stable, most successful democracy in the history of the world.  Seriously, I can't tell if you're stupid, insane or both. 

roo_ster
roo_ster

@JohnConnor Or the dreaded 3-D Printed Board with a Nail in it!!!!1111eleventy!

bealotcoolerifyoudid
bealotcoolerifyoudid

@observist I would think you are right, but not sure where you would get a credibly-sourced diagram (or anything about the LP for that matter).

roo_ster
roo_ster

@observist@roo_sterDude, you live a sheltered life.  Or an intellectually incurious one.  Incurious about chemistry, history, and who knows what else?

Better living _and_ killing through chemistry.  Tell me again who started the Nobel prizes and how he made his fortune?  

Someone inclined to mayhem can get all the makings for a big, honking bomb at the grocery store and/or hardware store.  I am not just talking home-made black powder (piece of cake) and BP-level burning materials that require a pressure vessel to cause serious damage, I am talking some truly energetic stuff.  

Perhaps you prefer your mayhem gaseous & toxic rather than explosive?  Same deal.  Commonly accessible materials will do the trick.

Or maybe kinetic energy is your thing.  Look on craigslist an buy a big, late-model truck and you, too, can mow down pedestrians by the dozen in downtown Dallas.  If you don't want to buy off craigslist, steal or carjack one.

The reality is, the makings for weapons of mayhem are all around us, no matter if we may be too dull to notice them.  And all the folks you mention already have access to them. 

Background checks on firearms are a waste of time in an environment where such materials are available.  If we truly think some adult is so dangerous we do not want them able to access such items, they need to be institutionalized in prison or old-timey state mental hospitals.

And I love this, "That is the way things have been and the way they always ever shall be!"  

Could you be any more short-sighted, from an historical perspective?   The Western country with the best of culture, science, and economic development went apey the last century and murdered its own citizens wholesale, in the 7 figures.  

Do you think America has been inoculated from such horror via our genetics, culture, or Divine Providence?  You think this state will always stand?   Do you have any conception how much America's ruling elite admired fascism & naziism & communism before we became involved in WWII?


There were then and are now plenty who won't mind breaking a few eggs to impose their omelet on everyone else.  I don't cotton to such thinking and actions and hope we harden up so as to prevent those with their utopian ideas from even trying to break us.  I hope that through enabling technologies such as 3D printing that we may all be richer and more free in the future.

bruceleroyjones
bruceleroyjones

@observist @roo_ster Did you read who you were replying to observist?  Roo_ster was talking about the overall benefit of 3-D printing technology.  So you felt the proper response was an anti-gun rant?  Also, yes, ex-cons are DEFINATELY going to turn to technology while planning to kill their wives.  Really?  Also, who said anything about background checks?

Oldest, most stable, most successful democracy.  Yes, the older the government, the lesser the likelihood of corruption.  Your logic is flawed.

Thanks for your nice stats on gun related violence.  Did you know that, according to The Institute for Healthcare Improvement, as many as 15 million patients are injured in US hospitals by malpractice each year?  And that as many as 200,000 of those patients are killed by malpractice, each year?  But we're not going to talk about that.  Why don't we talk about that?  Because it hasn't been sensationalized by the media yet, that's why.  You are SO outspoken about gun ownership, and you're so confident in your own righteousness.  Too bad it's not yours, it was spoon fed to you, and you lapped it right up.

cjastram
cjastram

@observist @roo_ster Paid shill, right here, being given good $$$ to spout this nonsense in front of the world.  Traitor.

rle35758
rle35758

@observist@roo_sterThe per capita murder rate is higher in Canada than the USA. And they have extremely restrictive gun laws. In fact, the murder rate spiked up each time Parlament passed new major gun bills.The Canadian murder weapon of choice (as it is in the US) is the knife. I cant tell if you are stupid, insane or both

mellowfellow0o0
mellowfellow0o0

Observist? You might want to try actually observing the world around you. The U.S. has a culture of violence that will not change based on the amount of weapons available. I also find it exteremely amusing that yout make it sound like the U.S.  is this great everlasting nation. It is a child with great promise, but still a child. 200 some years is a drop in the bucket. Finally are we supposed to be shocked by those numbers? Frankly I know it sounds harsh but suicides are completely meaningless and should be excluded from any discussion. If looking at homicide numbers FBI statistics have shown that the they have been on the decline. 

enig99
enig99

Jeez, relax... the printer, software, and printing materials, not to mention the time it.takes to print a gun, make doing so pretty impractical. A pragmatic sociopath would simply build a bomb. Thugs on-the-go would simply steal someone else's gun...

Too bad we can't print functioning brain cells.

enig99
enig99

He wanted to show off by using a "technical" term...

observist
observist topcommenter

@bruceleroyjones@observist@roo_ster Perhaps you didn't read his whole post:

"This is a wonderful technology with wonderful possibilities, only _one_ of which is to monkeywrench the dreams of fascists from taking away the ability of free men and women to arm themselves with firearms." 

 And he didn't have to explicitly say anything about background checks.  Let me walk you through it:  Who might want to manufacture their own gun instead of just buying one at WalMart?  Someone who isn't allowed to buy one.  Why wouldn't they be allowed to buy one?  Failed a background check.

As for relevancy, I was talking about 3d printing of guns - you know, what the article was about.  Malpractice, on the other hand, is completely irrelevant to this article or any of the comments.  

Nonetheless, 15 million per year seems grossly exaggerated - there are only about 35 million hospital discharges per year, so you're suggesting something like 40+% of all hospital visits result in malpractice injury or death.

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/hospital.htm

 This article suggests 1.2 million malpractice injuries over 3 years (2000-2002) for medicare patients, which is about 1/3 of all patients, so it comes out to about 1/10th of your 15m number.

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medical_malpractice

So, what were you saying about lapping up spoon-fed information?  Can you provide a credible source for your 15m number?

observist
observist topcommenter

@cjastram@observist@roo_sterWhat's interesting is that I've been commenting here for years, but when I make a somewhat provocative comment about guns, 6 new (or very infrequent) posters show up and accuse me of being a paid shill.

observist
observist topcommenter

@rle35758@observist@roo_ster I would say "nice try" had you even tried. The US homicide rate has been 3 times higher than the Canadian homicide rate in the past 30 years.  Most recently, US 4.8/100k,  Canada 1.6/100k.  

http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/data-and-analysis/homicide.html

Also, I don't know where you get the idea that the knife is the murder weapon of choice in the US.  About 70% of homicides are committed with a gun.  

http://projects.wsj.com/murderdata/?mg=inert-wsj#view=all


observist
observist topcommenter

@mellowfellow0o0

"The U.S. has a culture of violence that will not change based on the amount of weapons available."

The violence may not change, but the killing will.  Western democracies with limited access to guns have comparable rates of violence, but substantially lower murder rates.  I've said it here many times - guns are far more efficient and effective killing tools. 

So, not only is Rooster happy at the thought of more guns, he's rejoicing at the prospect of giving anyone and everyone unlimited access to guns, regardless of their criminal history or intentions, based on a paranoid delusion of impending fascist takeover -  of which there is little more evident threat than there has been since the founding of the country. 

 It's like saying he doesn't care how many people are killed, as long as it reduces the chance of getting hit by lightning.

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