The following excerpt is from Wired senior writer Andy Greenberg. He does a short take on the infamous “ghost gun“.
This is what some people call a ghost gun. It’s an Ar-15 semiautomatic rifle that has no serial number. It’s untraceable. I didn’t have to go through a background check or any sort of waiting period to get it. The government has no knowledge of its existence in fact and that’s because legally speaking I didn’t buy this gun. I made it.
Anyone can buy every part of an F-15 on the Internet. There’s one part though that you can’t buy without a background check. And that is a functioning lower receiver. The body of the gun which you can buy is this. This is not a lower receiver although it looks like one to the government. This is legally just a chunk of aluminum but any gunsmith it’s an 80 percent lower. That’s a lower receiver that’s basically 80 percent finished.
All you have to do is remove a few cavities of aluminum from this as you’re left with a true functioning gun for years DIY gun makers have been legally creating their own lower receivers to skirt gun control laws and builds untraceable weapons.
I wanted to see if new digital tools make building one of these ghost guns easier for someone like me with little firearms or power tools experience. If I can legally make a semi-automatic rifle and circumvent all gun control anyone can. So I tried making my air 15 lower receiver three different ways with a traditional drill press with a 3D printer and with a new computer controlled milling machine called the Ghost Gunner. So first I’m going to try to do this the old fashioned manual way of really not just.
A hole there. This is now the task. This I will know that wasn’t supposed to happen.
I’ve just made like a total mess of the inside of this thing. I don’t think that this is a working firearm component by any means.
So next I use the maker baud replicator and free plans I downloaded from the web to 3D prints a plastic air 15 lower receiver from scratch. The process was incredibly easy but the results were somewhat flawed. I cut a finger trying to remove excess plastic. Finally I tried what could be the future of homemade gunsmithing the fifteen hundred dollar goes Gunner is a computer controlled milling machine.
The latest invention of Defense Distributed a controversial group known for releasing 3D printable blueprints for gun parts including a fully 3D printable pistol. The ghost Gunner doesn’t print parts in plastic though the machines them out of aluminum and it works on the same 80 percent lower as I tried with the drill press method but requires far less equipment and skill. I can already tell it a lot better than I am. As I watched the ghost are precisely carved away aluminum it became clear that the barrier to legally obtaining a fully metal untraceable semi-automatic rifle is lower than ever before.
This is the youthfully Mills aluminum lower receiver for an F-15 that we built today.
Before I put actual explosive rounds through anything I’d made I thought I should check my work with a professional so I took my box of gun parts to Neith and render at bay area gunsmithing.
Please don’t laugh. This is the lore that I try to make with the drill drill. I’ve seen worse than this.
You can argue that only the lower receiver had made it with the ghost scunner was functional and safe. We could totally assemble this. He was nice enough to let me muddle through the final assembly of the AR15 at his shop. I test fired my homemade air 15 for the first time at a nearby firing range.
I can’t take this with me on a flight back to New York and I can’t sell it to anyone here in San Francisco or even give it to someone else wire legally. So instead I have to take it apart and either destroy or turn over to the police. The lawyer is here.
That was the end of my gun. But it’s just the beginning for a defense distributed ghost Gunner.
The group has already sold more than 1000 of its milling machines. Everyone is a tiny anarchic rifle factory and if they work as well as the one I tested there will be many more ghosts guns to come.
Sources: Wired, Andy Greenberg, photos by Josh Valcarcel/WIRED, original story here