On Monday, with little fanfare and less comment — primarily because none was needed — Defense Distributed unveiled a 3D-printed lower receiver for an AR-15 that stood up to hundreds of rounds of fire. Succinctly, the video on Youtube was accompanied by the statement, “Does not fail from firing stresses. 600+ rounds.” Just as important, and the purpose of all this effort, the group made plans for the receiver available for download by all and sundry at DefCad. Defense Distributed’s video and 3D printer plans are a clever and powerful blow to politicians’ efforts to restrict Americans’ abilities to own the means of self-defense. They may also be a glimpse of a future in which human liberty is largely dependent on an ability to limit the reach of the state through technological innovation and grassroots defiance.
It wasn’t long ago that Defense Distributed was getting some ribbing for the quality of its subversive efforts when its first attempt at a receiver fell apart after six shots. Then, the group 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 control-freaky governor. Not so much ribbing.
Now, within months of the initial experiments we have a rifle lower receiver — the legal “gun” part of an AR-15, so far as the government is concerned — that can handle hundreds of rounds and keep going. As Defense Distributed responded to New York Democratic Rep. Steve Israel’s announced intention to develop some sort of magical legal blockade to the home manufacture of firearms and magazines, “Good luck.”