I don’t often talk about it, but I’m a strong supporter of the second amendment. For that matter, I support all the amendments. What I don’t believe, though, is that the government in some way has granted us those rights. I believe we are born to those rights, and the government has simply codified our liberties into law, preventing tyranny from holding sway.

But that’s not what today’s post is about. Today’s post is about the hopelessness of the cause of those who naively believe either that they can somehow eliminate the ‘gun problem’ or those who are lashing out of fear and pain and making terminally stupid statements like ‘your rights are not limitless.’ Which, my former friend, of my rights would you limit? My right to life? to liberty, to the pursuit of happiness? I happen to feel strongly about my right to defend not only myself, but my family. And I am very, very aware that in the dead of night when peril falls on us, a cell phone is nearly useless to hold it off until police arrives (to use another stupid example a different former friend used to advocate for the limits he wanted to put on what guns I can own). All this aside: criminals will find a way to commit crimes. If not guns, they will use knives, bombs, baseball bats, hammers, their own fists… Pandora’s box is flung wide open. Closing the lid isn’t going to put all the pain back inside. Blindness to the nature of criminals and utter ignorance of criminology is no excuse for irrational panic about guns. I empathize with the fear and pain. I abhor the ignorance and inability to think logically about the issue.

But never forget that at the bottom of Pandora’s box was one last thing. Hope. Closing the box only traps hope because the guns are not going back in. No matter how much you think it’s not so, your feelings do not outweigh the facts. Feeling that it ought to be this way…

I’m digressing. One of the things that flew out of Pandora’s gun safe when it was opened (by the Chinese, by the by, when they first developed black powder. Sorry, it’s been so many centuries you can’t possibly wipe that level of knowledge off the face of the earth) was the Liberator. The what? The 3D printed plans of a gun. Not even a gun. Just files that could be made into a gun by anyone with a 3D printer and a computer. Internet access to get the files, maybe, or maybe a thumbdrive delivered to someone in a country without freedom of internet and information. With only one metallic component – the firing pin, which is described in this paper about the forensics of detecting the use of a 3D printed gun as a metal nail. The remainder of the weapon is polymer. It’s not easy to make, I gather. You need a stronger filament than normal, but that’s not hard to find. You need really diligent quality control, which frankly most criminals aren’t capable of. But it can be done. And given that we are turning libraries into Makerspaces with free access to 3D printers, you could even do it just for the cost of the filament. Maybe make some parts in one place, some in another, and assemble at home. I don’t know. I don’t plan to make one. But it’s enough to know that it could be done readily.

Forensically speaking, the weapon leaves traces and it can be determined what was used by those traces, on the bullet, and debris from the friable barrel as the bullet was fired. Even if it’s a single-shot weapon, which it sounds like it is, it’s not big nor heavy. We could hark back to the days of dueling pistols which were carried in pairs so if one didn’t fire, the other one probably would. Even if the gun misfired, the wound would still be significant – the paper describes a ‘splinter’ wound but 14 cm is a long way when you are measuring into the human body. I think it might be difficult to trace the fired bullet back to a specific weapon (which we can do with a traditional gun) as it also sounds like many of the Liberators they test fired couldn’t be fired a second time. Disposable guns. The scientists conducting the study on the Liberator sound a bit surprised at their conclusions, but me? I think it was inevitable.

First, the experiments proved that it is possible to discharge a Liberator, though important damages are sometimes caused to the weapon itself. Secondly, the projectile can reach its target despite its lack of precision, causing wounds in line with those of fragments. As a third point, polymer fragments and pieces of the weapons are ejected in the environment when discharging a 3D-printed Liberator.

Pandora’s gun is out there. We can brace ourselves against what we already know of crime and criminals, and stand ready to defend our homes against it. Or we can bury our heads in the sand and slam shut the nearly-empty box.


47 responses to “Pandora’s Gun”

  1. While the printer is cool, it’s not needed.

    The equipment in a normal jeweler’s shop can make MAC 10s; my grandfather, in the 50s, with a hobby blacksmith shop, made a rifle that uses standard bullets. (while holding down 1.5 full time jobs, raising five kids and being a standard issue pillar of the community)

    The level of totalitarian state required to remove guns would fully justify removing that state.

    1. except a rifled barrel, most good car shops can make an AK.

      1. Actually, a primitive rifled barrel can be made by using a hydraulic press to drive a scored plug through the barrel. A tight fitting metal plug has the reverse image of the rifling filed into it. This plug can be as short as an inch. The barrel is mounted in the press and a follower rod used to drive the plug through. It won’t be the best rifling but the gent who I learned the method from (video probably no longer on YouTube) did get more accuracy from a pistol with it.

        And good car shops have hydraulics and could be rigged up for the work.

        1. What do you know, it is still out there: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D43ZeYu9dnM

    2. Oh, I know it’s not needed. And part of the, ah, novelty of the printed gun is the lack of dectable metal parts. It’s not durable but it would defeat a metal detector.

      1. Which would get you in to, say, a court house– and get access to better weapons. 🙁

        1. Exactly. Sigh. This is why the whole ‘guns must be banned’ makes me so crazy, but I know you’re on the same page with me.

          1. Yep. *shudder*

            I just run into a lot of folks whose immediate response is to ban/license/control 3-D printers.

            And they don’t even get the reference when I ask if they’ll be doing the same with typewriters.

    3. You beat me to the punch. I am much more comfortable with building something along the lines of Luty’s SMG, itself a near copy of a Sten gun, in my carport due to a mix of skills and tools. There is also the sheet aluminum lower receiver for an AR-15 with plans out there.

      In researching such weapons one thing the gun grabbers might like is the conclusion that forced to make my own I’m more likely to build an automatic instead of a semi-auto because at the garage level the mechanism is easier.

  2. And that’s nothing to say on someone having access to a cnc machine….

    or a Home Depot, which carries parts for other things

    1. Yep. Although I was more thinking low-level criminal, here.

      1. Nobody of Import Avatar
        Nobody of Import

        Ah, but this is the level we’re talking about with these things, Cedar. It isn’t rocket science to make effective guns.

        Efficient and reliable may be on the table there, requiring more skills… But it should be noted that the criminals in Australia (that place they keep saying they’ve gotten all the guns out of people’s hands in…) make ultra-high quality submachineguns, pistols, and shotguns that match or rival the commercially made ones.

        Don’t presume “criminals” means low-grade or quality. It’s just that they’ve not needed to go there here in the States…yet.

        1. I don’t presume all criminals are low-intelligence or don’t have skills. Actually, there’s much to the argument that prison is college for criminals (right up to an including machine-shop training for some, pertinent to this article). However, the vast majority of them are. Lazy, too. But you can’t count on that all the time.

      2. Hardware shop weapons similar to the Luty SMG are routinely seized by police in the developing world. They are perfect for low level crime.

          1. I promise not to tell my wife you showed me that site.

    2. Nobody of Import Avatar
      Nobody of Import

      Pretty much all the parts to make a pretty effective submachinegun- and the tools to take parts to completion.

      Oh, and they have all the parts to make a brutal, efficient, and reliable 12 Ga Zip-Gun.

  3. If you think you need a gun to kill large numbers of people, you are critically information challenged. While on a good day, I will stipulate an anti-gun nut’s good INTENTIONS, arguendo, most days I consider them only useful idiots.

    1. I try to give most of them some leeway, because it’s the media who are driving the story they’ve swallowed hook line and sinker. But the stupidity, it buurrrnnnssss….

      1. I am heartened by the fact that no matter what laws they manage to pass, there is NOTHING, in any way to be termed practical, that can be done to disarm Joe BagaDonutz. You wanna be the lead dog on any team tasked with a thorough house-to-house search to confiscate newly banned weapons in the average middle-class neighborhood? Didn’t think so.

  4. Massachusetts banned bump stocks. Now, there is some question as to how common they are, in that friends who are fond of firearms and have seen all the gear owned by a fair number of gun owners remark that they had never seen a bump stock. (Except on Facebook, where someone made one, tested it, and destroyed it, full cost $4 or so.) In any event, the Attorney General sent a post card to every gun owner in the state (well, everyone with the needed license) ordering them to hand in their bump stocks to the local police. A grand total of under ten were turned in to the authorities. Readers may suspect that the AG gave her supporters some needed jollies, while knowing that her actions were quite meaningless. But a postcard is safer for the sender than a house to house search.

    1. Yeah, just an ammo waster. I can’t think of anyone who has one either.

    2. Not very effective law anyway when a thumb through a belt loop can achieve the same rate of fire (I’ve seen that demo’d).

    3. Ehh, Mass has no problem with house to house searches when they want to do them, even without warrants.

  5. A high % of ‘progressives’ don’t have much understanding of how things are *made*, and really have no interest in the topic. So the idea that guns can be made other than in an official gun factory is not something they would be likely to consider.

  6. gamergrl Avatar

    A significant number of people would consider it their duty to learn to build a gun, and to share that knowledge with as many others as possible. Heck, there are already gun-making parties with people who own metal based 3-D printers.

    1. Given the number of the polymer ones that blew up in testing, metal sounds much more reliable!

      1. I R A Darth Aggie Avatar
        I R A Darth Aggie

        People have made 1911 Colts from metal “printers”. (Aren’t those more of a cnc mill?)

        Also, a nit: dueling pistols came in pairs, one for each participant. So that they’d have nearly the same weapon, and no one could complain that the fix was in because someone had a “better” pistol.

        1. Yes, but pistols of the era were usually carried in pairs to allow for either more than one shot, or in case of failure (Dad re-enacts the F&I war and Rev War era).

        2. nope, there are printers that print using sintered metal.

  7. Lanceman Avatar

    You are the first one to understand this. The modern firearm has already been invented. Ditto bump stocks and suppressors.

    But nevermind this 3D gun. 80% frames for popular [semi]automatic rifles and pistols are sold today. No serial number, totally legal unless they think they’re gonna regulate blocks of steel, impossible to regulate,

    Holding jigs and tools are sold to complete them. Guns are going nowhere.

    1. I doubt I’m the first, but thank you. As a Scientist with forensic training, I was surprised this study took so long to get done.

  8. John C. Avatar
    John C.

    In the Phillipines, there was an entire industry making firearms, from “slam-bang” shotguns to full-autos, going back decades, in workshops less sophisticated than most of those here have in their homes; look up “Paltik guns.” For those who worry about accuracy, take a look at http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2017/03/02/diy-barrel-rifling-using-salt-water-electricity-3d-printed-jig/

  9. And of course the original Liberator was a very nearly disposable pistol in WWII. Airdropped into Occupied Europe – the local Resistance person would use the single-shot pistol to blow away the mind of Herr Nazi and commandeer his Luger or Mauser. Yay freedom! Unit cost $2.10 in 1942.

    1. I think the polymer is going to cost more than that to print the new-fangled versions! But yes, that is the reason this pattern was named the Liberator, to hark back to the history.

      1. Naah, its about $1.50 in ABS.

        1. REplying to my own reply, apparntly none of the parts can be printed with infill so its more than that.

  10. The original, one-shot “Liberator” was supplied to the French Resistance in WWII. The philosophy behind it is virtually the same as today.

    Everyone agrees that a one-shot, short-range pistol is almost worthless… so what is the value in having one? The value lies in the ability to get other, more powerful weapons from those who have them.

    Even the most ardent gun-banner agrees that the police and soldiers will still have their handguns and rifles — the same as it was back in 1943 or so. Moving as many as you can of those into the civilian hands is paramount if you want a populace that can protect themselves (or overthrow) a police state.

    So you walk up to a policeman to ask him for directions, jam a Liberator into his chest (throat, head), and pull the trigger. Now you have a nice handgun and rifle for your own. Rinse and repeat until you have enough to consider attacking an armory where there are much more handy tools for you to use.

    And for those who say this is unlikely, I would suggest you study the tales from the French, Polish, and other Resistance movements before you decide what motivated citizens are capable of.

    1. The original Liberator was made to spec: Cheap, lots and lots of them, as soon as possible. Something like a million were produced, in matter of about 10 weeks by a single company. Someone figured that the production rate was such that they were being made faster than you could load and fire the weapon.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgOfbG3mi_0&t=10s shows one being fired; inaccurate, and not very pleasant for the shooter (you probably would be smart to wear a glove when shooting the thing). But potentially a way to get something better for your own use. That German soldier wouldn’t be needing his rifle, after all.

  11. After the first 3D printers were built someone printed an AR15 lower receiver and used it to fire several rounds before it was destroyed.

    1. Yep, this is why commercial plastic AR-15 lowers have metal reinforcement in the major failure area.

  12. Thomas F Maguire Avatar
    Thomas F Maguire

    FWIW, California has already had two mass shootings by perps with “ghost guns”. One had been disarmed by California’s Gun Violence Restraining Order law.


  13. Alistair Avatar

    Dueling pistols came in pairs because you carried two of them in case one misfired? Where did you get that idea? This is claptrap on the face of it.

    Rather, it’s intuitively obvious that they came in pairs to provide one of the same type of pistol to each of the two participants in a duel, and Wikipedia agrees: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duelling_pistol

    1. Not dueling pistols – carry in general. I’m aware that for duelling it was a matched pair for fairness. Sigh. I will have to change the post I suppose. I know what I was thinking. As I said in another comment, I’m quite familiar with the era, since my Dad does re-enactments.

  14. […] Pandora’s Gun D6: DIY Aluminum Lower […]

  15. I spent Easter Saturday afternoon at a meal with a couple in our neighborhood, and a number of their friends … all of whom were ancient libbies of the most conventional kind. They were oohing and ahing over the Parkland activists … sigh, And were all over Hillary, too.
    Yes, I was civil, but did not give an inch, when they asked me what I thought of Trump. I did admit in the sternest fashion to have voted against Hilary, rather than for Trump – but insisted that I really liked and approved of those that he had nominated for various offices.
    And when it came to a discussion of personal arms with one of the most libby-inclined (the woman who I walk dogs with – hers, since she is 80ish and frail, so I take HER dogs, while she takes mine – small and toy) she said when I mentioned that yes, I have a concealed-carry because of marketing events, and cash, and being woman living alone – “Oh, but you are TRAINED!” Again, sigh. Daughter and I are both ex-military, so that is TOTES OK.
    On a personal one-to-one-level, libs can be reasoned with. It’s on the abstract national level that everything goes … haywire.