So What If Ghost Guns Make It Impossible To Regulate Guns?

I’d like to congratulate my friends in the gun control movement for getting everyone so riled up over this completely phony issue of 3-D, plastic guns that even the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said he would ‘look into it,’ and the Washington Post published a major editorial saying that by letting Cody Wilson post his 3-D drawings on the internet, ‘carnage’ was a step away.

plastic gun1             Why doesn’t WaPo publish an editorial saying that they have ‘proof’ Martians have landed at Area 51?  It would have the same degree of honesty and credibility as saying that “Ghost guns are already a problem; they are used not just by lone shooters but as part of criminal enterprises.”

In fact, these guns haven’t been used by anybody because they don’t work. Not only don’t they work, but the first thing you have to do after downloading Wilson’s blueprint, is to glue a 6-ounce piece of steel into the receiver which makes the gun detectable by even the most primitive security scanners, a point somehow completely missed by some sheriff who wrote a separate op-ed for WaPo warning everyone about the danger posed by ghost guns.

When it comes to molding public opinion, nobody on either side ever concerns themselves with narratives based on facts. However, this so-called threat to national security has finally given the gun-control gang an issue around which they can mobilize public opinion and win a hot-air battle against the gun-nut bunch. Which brings up a question: To the degree that Cody Wilson’s own rhetorical flourishes about ending government gun regulations of all kinds might actually come true, what would be the effect if the current regulatory environment defined by the Gun Control Act of 1968 went away?

First of all, it would mean that several thousand ATF staffers would be out of work – no great loss. It would also mean that the public health gun researchers at Harvard, Johns Hopkins and elsewhere would have to find some other topic to justify their whining about not having enough research funds to explain why gun laws reduce gun violence – also no great loss. But would the ability of someone to buy a gun with no more legal concerns than what’s involved in buying a Hershey bar lead to total carnage and a national security threat?

Let me begin by breaking the news to my gun-control friends. If I could walk into a gun shop tomorrow  and buy a gun without having to fill out any paperwork at all, it would never occur to me to do anything illegal or inappropriate with that gun. I’m not a law-abiding citizen because I own guns; I’m law-abiding because I just am. And so are just about everyone else in America whether they own guns or not. The U.S. happens to be an extraordinarily law-abiding country and the one category where we do rank above everyone else is automobile theft, which happens to be a function of the fact that just about every one of us owns a car.

You would think the way my friends in the gun-control gang lament gun violence, that everyone who commits a violent act against someone else is someone who has gotten their ‘wrong hands’ on a gun.  In fact, of the more than 1 million arrests made each year for aggravated assault, less than 7 percent try to beat the sh*t out of someone else by using a gun. So how come the other million who really try to hurt another person don’t use a gun? It’s not like they can’t get their hands on a gun, right? Guns are all over the place.

Sooner or later the sturm und drang over ghost guns will die down because nothing stays in the middle of the 24/7 news cycle for more than a week. Which means the gun-control gang will have to find a different way to rile everyone up. Which means they’ll give me a new topic to write about. I can’t wait.

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Sorry – But Plastic Guns Aren’t Guns.

plastic gun1             Now that Cody Wilson and his merry band of libertarian gunsmiths have been given the green light to post their 3-D gun drawings online, the gun-control movement might take a minute before going into overdrive about the terrible threat which this poses to our lives and our limbs, and at least figure out what it really means.  It doesn’t mean, contrary to some of the messaging floating around Gun-control Nation, that we will end up surrounded by all kinds of illegal, untraceable guns. It also doesn’t mean that after downloading a 3-D drawing, cutting and assembling the various parts, then fitting all these parts together means that – voila! – you now have in your hands a real, workable gun.

First of all, 3-D gun drawings have been floating around on the internet for years. The pic below is a drawing for the AR-15.

AR15 drawing

You’ll notice that I have drawn a circle around one part of the gun, the part known as the ‘receiver.’  This is the only part of the entire pile of parts which makes a gun, because it is the receiver on which is stamped the unique serial number, a number which is then registered by the gun’s manufacturer and follows the gun to a wholesaler, a retailer and a retail buyer, a.k.a., the gun’s owner.  There are hundreds of companies making and selling all the other parts that go into the AR-15, none of those parts carry a serial number, none of them require any kind of licensing process prior to purchase, none of those parts can be traced at all.

There are also lots of people out there – machinists, lathe operators, tool & die makers, do-it-yourselfers – who can take a block of carbon steel, set their cutting machine to the proper specs and produce a homemade receiver as well.  But here’s the point: you can build an AR-15 or an Abrams Tank, as long as you live in a state which has no legal barrier to buying or owning heavy ordnance like the 120mm shell fired from a tank.  What you can’t do is sell or give your homemade weapons system, rifle or tank, to someone else.

Which happens to be the same law that applies to any and every gun that Cody Wilson would like to design. And frankly, the idea that a ‘mentally disturbed’ individual would go to the trouble of buying one of Wilson’s $1,700 cutting machines, then learn how to use it, then actually cut and then assemble all those parts before ever firing the gun – that’s absurd. As for all those criminals out there who can’t wait to manufacture their own guns, give me a break. Know how difficult it is to simply go out to the street and buy a gun?

And now we get to the most important a point that seems to be ignored by everyone in Gun-control Nation busily spreading the alarm about the threat posed by 3-D guns.  The simple fact is: they don’t work. Cody Wilson stopped making his 3-D gun because the gun he designed, a 22-caliber thingie called the ‘Liberator,’ was, according to Wilson, successfully tested except that as far as anyone can tell, not only does the gun fail to shoot at all after 8 or 9 shots, but a weapons lab in England warned that the chances of the gun blowing up and injuring the shooter was more apt to happen even if the 3-D gun was only fired once.

Want to own a gun that can’t be traced?  You don’t need to go through all the rigamarole, spend two grand and wind up with a piece of plastic junk. All you have to do is get your hands on any old gun and run the receiver’s serial number against a metal lathe. No serial number, no trace.

My friends in the GVP should stop worrying about plastic guns and get back to dealing with the real reasons why we suffer from 125,000 gun deaths and injuries every year.

 

 

 

Here Come The Plastic Guns.

The first gun I ever owned was a silver six-shooter made out of hard plastic which I carried around wherever I went.  I was six years old so I could more or less carry my gun just about anywhere except the first grade. A couple of years later I graduated to another plastic gun which shot ammunition we used to call ‘caps,’ but I abandoned this toy when I was 12 years old and bought my first real gun.

plastic gun1             From then until now, if you wanted to own a gun which shot real ammunition, some of the parts, particularly the barrel, had to be made out of steel. Until the 1980’s all the other parts of a gun were also made out of steel or some metal alloy except for the gun stock which, if the gun was a rifle or shotgun, might be made out of wood.

Thanks to a guy in Austria named Gaston Glock, we began substituting polymer for metal in the non-moving parts of the gun, particularly the frame. Polymer is actually a plastic material reinforced with metallic compounds which makes the finished product more resistant to wear and tear, and in the case of a gun also reduces the overall weight. Most handguns sold in the United States today are put together with a polymer frame; when Glock first started shipping his gun to the US, it was referred to as a ‘plastic’ gun.

Now for the first time we have the appearance of a gun which is almost totally made out of plastic, engineered and developed by a young entrepreneur out of Texas, Cody Wilson,  who has become something of an iconic personality in the community which believes that personal freedom and self-made guns are one and the same thing. Wilson owns a company, Defense Distributed, which made a plastic pistol and got into a spat with the U.S. Government by releasing instructions on the internet for how to take a 3D printer and use it to make a plastic gun.

Wilson promotes himself as an innovator but he’s much more than that. What he’s really doing is finding a clever marketing niche for a segment of the gun-owning population that really believes in the idea that an individual’s freedom can only be secured at the point of a gun.  Here’s the mission statement on Cody’s site: “The specific purposes for which this corporation is organized are: To defend the human and civil right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the United States Constitution and affirmed by the United States Supreme Court; to collaboratively produce, publish, and distribute to the public information and knowledge related to the digital manufacture of arms.” Notice which statement comes first.

Wilson announced the development of a plastic AR-15 right around the time that Adam Lanza took a real AR-15 into Sandy Hook Elementary School and began blasting away.  In a recent interview on NPR’s Planet Money he admitted that the Newtown massacre gave his company a significant boost, and while he mumbled something about the mass shooting in terms of the loss of life, he was much more positive about the need to develop self-manufacturing gun technologies in order to forestall the ability of the government to infringe on personal freedom by banning civilian-owned guns.

As the Planet Money interviewer discovered, give Wilson five minutes to shoot his mouth off and what you’ll get is the standard, neo-libertarian, neo-anarchist mishmash comprised of equal parts of Ayn Rand, Friedrich Hayek and maybe now Steve Bannon, all of which adds up to nothing more than childish, nonsensical crap. The same people who want to believe that a gun will protect you from government tyranny (particularly when the government is run by a Black liberal) are the same people who buy gold bars from the Glenn Beck show to protect themselves from the oncoming financial collapse.

Frankly, Cody Wilson and his crypto-anarchist friends are the least of our problems when it comes to dealing with the violence caused by guns.

 

Thanks To Shaun Dakin.

Want To Get Rid Of Guns? Let Everyone Get One.

There’s been lots of internet chatter about a new technology that allows anyone to print out and assemble their own gun.  The company that developed this interesting product, Defense Distributed, was ordered to remove the diagrams from their website but not until more than 100,000 downloads took place.  In order to make the gun you need a 3-D laser printer which runs about $1,600, plus about $25-worth of plastic and yes, the gun “functions,” according to some early tests, but it’s a single-shot, 22-caliber, and it shoots but not very well.

I think that if Mike Bloomberg is really serious about spending fifty million bucks to promote more effective gun control, he should consider bankrolling a company that will find a way to cheapen the cost of the printer, which would bring down the cost of the gun to perhaps less than what Glocks and other standard guns cost now.  At which point, I’ll bet you that all kinds of computer geeks will start developing software that will let people print out and assemble lots of different gun models – AR-15’s, concealable pistols – and you can kiss the gun industry goodbye.

Liberator pistol.

Liberator pistol.

Chances are, for technical reasons I won’t bother to explain, that the plastic gun will never work very well.  But imagine the demand for such products given the fact that as long as you don’t sell the thing to someone else, you don’t need any kind of license at all.  And since guns, like alcohol and tobacco, fall under excise tax regulations, you can’t really regulate home-made guns for the same reasons that someone who brews up his own wine down in his basement is not required to tell anyone what he’s doing as long as he consumes the booze himself.

But here’s the problem with home-made guns.  The point of alcohol and spirits is that they are made to be used up.  The problem with guns is that the damn things don’t break down no matter how often they are used.  I have a Browning Hi-Power pistol that was manufactured in the Herstal factory in 1968 and it shoots as well today as when I first pulled it out of the box.  Until my son “borrowed” it, I had a Colt 1911 pistol that was manufactured in 1919, and my son didn’t walk off with it because he wanted a gun that wouldn’t work. The esteemed gun researcher, Philip Cook, claimed that one-third of all crime guns recovered in Chicago were more than 20 years old.

Obama is correct.  Gun folks “cling” to their guns because those guns are the only thing they ever bought that didn’t immediately break.  Computers last 2-3 years, the average car has been on the road for 11 years, some of the glassware you bought last month at Crate and Barrel didn’t survive three weeks.  But like that old Timex ad says, guns take a licking and keep on ticking.  And not only do they keep ticking, they are also cheap as hell.  I bought a new 1911 pistol in 1979 for 300 bucks.  There’s an internet reseller who will deliver a 1911 pistol to your favorite local dealer for $450, which includes overnight UPS.  That’s hardly a big increase in price considering that we are talking about thirty-five years.

Turning guns into mainstream consumer products has always been the dream of the NRA.  And a plastic gun that kind of works is no different from the cheap iPhones and droids which also kind of work.  When guns become just another cheap, disposable consumer item, they may sell like crazy but they’ll do much less harm.  After all, it’s kind of tough to make people think that they can defend themselves with a gun when they know that after one or two shots they might as well throw the thing away.