Gun Control in the 21st Century: 3D Printing High Capacity Magazines
One of the most popular talking points for gun-grabbers in the post-Sandy Hook discussion is the idea of banning high capacity ammunition magazines. But a group of gun enthusiasts have devised a way of getting around such bans by using three dimensional printing devices right in their own homes to create plastic versions of the magazines.
During the weekend of January 11, a group calling itself Defense Distributed "printed" a 30-round magazine out of plastic and successfully fired at least 86 rounds through it.
Last year this same group used a 3D printing device to fashion the lower receiver of an AR-15 rifle to which they attached parts of a real rifle to form a complete and working piece. The homemade gun part actually fired several rounds before falling apart from the shock from firing the bullets.
Defense Distributed put out a rather triumphant video announcing its success at printing a 30-round magazine.
3D printing technology is not quite up to the task of creating an entire gun. Many parts of a firearm are made of high strength metals, and 3D printing devices cannot produce parts of that sort as of yet. Further, even the parts that Defense Distributed have printed experience high failure rates. But as technology progresses, solutions to these limitations seem likely.
Through its website (defcad.org), Defense Distributed plans to continue to offer blueprints and electronic files for 3D printers to print gun parts, but they have held off on exploring any effort to print an entire gun until they get licensed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) as a legal gun manufacturing business.
The success of Defense Distributed has made it a target for the attention of anti-gun activists and lawmakers alike, but so far no legal sanctions have been leveled against the group, nor have any laws limiting their actions been proposed.