Facts on 3D Printed Guns: What They Are, What They Do, What They Don’t

The Associated Press
Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP, File

The settlement between the State Department and Cody Wilson’s Defense Distributed has put 3D printed guns into the spotlight and, sadly, the focus on them has included a lot of misinformation.

For example, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) describes a 3D printed gun as a “fully semiautomatic weapon,” other Democrats talk of how such guns allow terrorists to bypass metal detectors, and President Trump speaks against the idea that “3D printed guns would be sold to the public.” All three of these statements are confusing, inasmuch as there is no such thing as “fully semiautomatic,” 3D printed guns contain metal (that would set of a detector), and it is already illegal to sell 3D printed guns to others.

In order to clear the air, Breitbart News presents the following points to explain what 3D printed guns are, what they do, and what they do not do.

  1. 3D printed guns are firearms and/or firearm parts that are printed on a 3D printer in one’s home for personal use. The moniker “3D printed guns” is also often used to cover to firearms that are built out of kits that are purchased for 80 percent lowers. The latter is actually a case of machining metal, rather than printing it, but all manner of building a gun at home is being summed up as 3D printing by the left, and this certainly adds to the confusion many Americans feel when trying to under what is currently at stake.
  2. 3D printed guns — whether defined narrowly or defined broadly, as the left does — have been around for years. The State Department settlement with Cody Wilson does not mean something will suddenly be available which has not been available before. Rather, the settlement means Wilson can share his 3D print files online. (Yes, the left is exerting all this energy in an effort to simply keep Wilson from posting online what is already readily available in other formats.)
  3. 3D printed guns are already illegal to sell. To President Trump’s point about selling 3D printed guns, that option is already off the table because it is illegal to sell such guns. The settlement with Cody Wilson is not about one American building and selling 3D printed guns but about sharing information on how to make one.
  4. 3D printed guns are an expensive option. Gun controllers like Gabby Giffords and others like to talk about how 3D printed guns provide criminals with a new way to acquire firearms. This claim is wrong for many reasons, chief among them is the cost of making a 3D firearm. Consider a 1911 handgun that is made from an 80 percent lower and requires machining metal as part of the building process. The cost of the CNC machine to finish the lower is approximately $1,700, the parts kit for building the portion of the gun (beyond the frame) is about $500 and the expertise to make the parts fit and work smoothly will cost additional money with a gun smith. In all, one is looking at $2,500 to $2,700 for a 1911 handgun. Why would a criminal pay that when he can go into a dark alley in any Democrat-controlled city — i.e., Chicago, Baltimore, St. Louis, New Orleans, Houston–and buy a stolen 1911 for $300 or $400?
  5. 3D printed guns are a death knell for gun control as we know it. This is a driving force behind much of the left’s opposition to 3D printed firearms, they fear losing control of a population they have grown accustomed to keeping under their thumb. The left has been worked up in a frenzy for years over the fact that Americans can buy guns privately without first getting government permission via a background check. (Americans have been doing this since the Second Amendment was ratified in 1791). 3D printed guns afford Americans the opportunity to build a gun in their home the way our Founding Fathers would have done it, apart from any interaction with a government bureaucracy, and Democrats simply cannot abide that.

An overarching point is that 3D printed guns rest on the philosophy that the right to keep and bear arms really is a natural right, that it really is an individual, God-given right. As with freedom of speech, religion, or assembly, it is protected by the Bill of Rights and is a right which the American people are free to exercise apart from government infringement.

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News, the host of the Breitbart podcast Bullets with AWR Hawkins, and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com. Sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.

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