A gunmaker who calls himself Buck O’Fama (get it?) has posted a video of his 3D-printed Ruger Charger receiver. This single part, which usually holds the serial number and is an integral part of the firing mechanism, is, technically, the only part that defines a weapon as an actual gun. By printing his (or her) own, O’Fama has essentially skirted the law that requires all firearms to be registered with the federal government.
Unlike the 3D printed Liberator, this 3D-printed part requires very little structural support and is simply used to guide the mechanism while firing. In other words, you can buy all the parts for a Ruger Charger (a .22-calibre rimfire semiautomatic that is essentially a Ruger 10/22 rifle in pistol form) online – except the receiver.
O’Fama is doing little novel here. Gunmakers wishing to exert their rights can buy “80% completed” receivers online now and, with the help of a guide and a drill press, complete the parts at home. In fact, his two-piece receiver seems a little dangerous as it requires the user to print it in two pieces and then stick them together. He has not made the model available for download, either.
In an anonymous-esque voiceover, O’Fama says:
“You may not condone the activity, but the fact remains that we are now living in a time when deadly weapons can be printed with the push of a button. The notion that any item so easily created could be eradicated from the earth is pure fantasy. The capacity to defend my family is a fundamental human right. If you take my gun, I will simply print another one. “
I will condone this activity until I’m blue in the face. But to make this sort of a thing a public issue full of posturing and puffery is wrong-headed. Any sensible person with some mechanical skill can build a receiver out of metal or plastic. However by politicizing the entire operation and turning it into what amounts to a thumb in the nose of “government overreach,” you hurt the entire 3D-printing and making industry. The right to bear arms shall not be infringed, etc. etc. but you don’t have to be smarmy about it.
My primary fear is that this sort of thing turns quickly in the national conversation from “guy makes a gun part” to “3D printers let terrorists build anti-tank missiles.” Like the Liberator before it, this video will sizzle for a moment and then disappear and it’s the makers who are actually trying to change the world for the better who will suffer under increased legislation.