Feb. 26, 2015 | By Roberto

The 3D printed gun has always been a controversial topic, one of those subjects which sees the opposition of two political stances, especially in the US. On one side, some people defend the right of on being in favour of the free circulation of firearms, while on the other there is the public opinion concerned for a society in which being armed could become too easy. Although obtaining a gun through mainstream distribution is probably easier, and it will provide the customer with a more reliable firearm than one made on a desktop 3D printer, the topic is still hot.

For this reason, Defense Distributed, a gun-making advocacy group led by Cody Wilson, has developed and released the Ghost Gunner, a compact CNC mill that enables the machining of metal parts for untraceable firearm manufacturing. The problem is that FedEx has refused to ship the device to the ones who pre-ordered it last October, when all the digital mills were sold out within 36 hours.

This is only the latest of several troubles related to the activities of Defense Distributed: it all began after the NGO published CAD files to its Liberator pistol and the State Department ordered them to be taken down from the group's website. Nonetheless, the files had already been downloaded 100,000 times, and they are still available on many torrent sites. Previously, the advocacy group was kicked out of Indiegogo after it had started a crowdfunding campaign in 2012; moreover Stratasys seized their professional FDM 3D printer when it discovered it had been used to print gun parts.

According to FedEx spokesperson Scott Fiedler, the global courier delivery services company says there is a big issue regarding the shipping of the Ghost Gunner:

"This device is capable of manufacturing firearms, and potentially by private individuals. We are uncertain at this time whether this device is a regulated commodity by local, state or federal governments. As such, to ensure we comply with the applicable law and regulations, FedEx declined to ship this device until we know more about how it will be regulated."

Although Ghost Gunner is a $1,500 machine that can carve out aluminum objects from CAD files, not only guns, the fact that Cody Wilson marketed the milling machine as a firearms maker must have raised concerns. The above-quoted previous initiatives by the founder of Distributed Defense did not help him to build a good reputation, nevertheless the ownership and selling of the technology itself is not illegal. As argued by Adam Winkler, law professor at UCLA:

"Buying, selling, or using the Ghost Gunner isn't illegal, nor is owning an AR-15 without a serial number. Federal law does not prohibit individuals from making their own firearms at home, and that includes AR-15s."

A new generation of makers using 3D printers and milling machines has opened an era in which anyone can potentially make anything – from prostheses to guns – behind the curtains of his of her comfortable living room. Nonetheless, this potential can be put into action only if this new technology actually reaches people's houses.

Wilson argues that:

"The artifact that they're shipping is a CNC mill. There's nothing about it that is specifically related to firearms except the hocus pocus of the marketing."

Moreover, the list of objects FedEx does not ship does not include guns or gun-making tools. Wilson tried also with UPS, but received again a negative response. In fact, UPS spokesperson Dan Mackin stated:

"UPS reserves the right to refuse to provide transportation service for, among other reasons, any shipments that create legal, safety or operational concerns. UPS is continuing to evaluate such concerns with regard to the transportation of milling machines used to produce operable firearms but, at this point in time, will not accept such devices for transportation."

On one hand the issue is related to the delivery of 3D printers that are not used only for printing firearms, that is to say that is hard to consider them illegal, on the other hand the possibility of making almost any kind of object from home urged the adoption of strict forms of regulation and policy.




Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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Dave wrote at 3/3/2015 7:58:19 AM:

If ANYONE, ANYWHERE, wants to stop wrong from being done.... We do not need to focus on the "WRONG" that has being done. The focus needs to be on the consequences for the wrong doing. Lets face reality, if everyone knew that if, ANY act of violence committed would get them publicly hung, or had there head in a guillotine on tv watching their loved ones cry for the punishment that was about to be carried out. We would not have to worry about the wrong being done, bc the consequences for them would make people learn to turn the other cheek and walk away! Instead all they see is 3 meals a day, gym, and tv in a climate controlled environment for the rest of their life...Which, might i add, is a better life than more than 40% of the population..........

John wrote at 3/1/2015 7:54:57 PM:

It's just little Cody feeling neglected again. Every few months, when the fuss dies down, and nobody is inviting him to spout nonsense on daytime TV, he throws another little publicity bomb. Oh noes Fedex is not gonna carry my over priced toy router.. Oops.. sorry.. Freedumb gun making magic robot of prepping and short sleeved shirts. . . What ever will I do.. Will I approach any of the many many other courier services, and just tell them it's a machine tool? Because really, that is all it is. Hell no. I'll get the word out on every news outlet I can. And hope they are still dumb enough to keep covering this non story again, and again, and again.. OMG.. non 3D printed guns.. We are all doomed.

Red blooded american wrote at 3/1/2015 12:28:43 AM:

Being armed is already too easy.... What these new machines do is make it easy for everyone ... The govt. has aiready lost the fight to protect tax paying citizens... This machine is good, it protects citizens when the govt. Does Nothing

realist wrote at 2/28/2015 6:52:24 AM:

FedEx and UPS are either stupid, or hypocritical. They ship plenty of machines that are capable of making untraceable guns, as long as they aren’t advertised as capable of making guns. Any small combination lathe / milling machine, such as the one sold at Harbor Freight for about $500, can be used to make guns. Do FedEx and UPS ship those? All the time.

TheMike wrote at 2/27/2015 7:41:57 PM:

I hope Roberto's native tongue isn't English.

Anon1337 wrote at 2/27/2015 12:56:49 AM:

LOL @ calling the uPrint an "industrial" FDM 3D printer. Professional maybe, but not industrial. It isn't a Fortus.

PinkAsso wrote at 2/27/2015 12:30:28 AM:

This is just Cody Wilson drumming up press. He could have started shipping but is just using this for more delays and free press. He wanted them to say no so he told them what it was for. The "Ghost Gunner" is over 2 month late in shipping.

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