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.”