Forget 3-D Printing: When It Comes to DIY Guns, There's a Much Bigger Danger

When it comes to gun control, one of the biggest issues has always been the question of where one can buy weapons. After the Kennedy assassination, for example, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the 1968 Gun Control Act, which made it illegal to sell rifles and shotguns through the mail. Later, in 1993, the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act instituted background checks on gun sales, unless the sale occurs at a gun show. That little loophole has led to a thriving gun show business, a factor that still bedevils reformers attempting to regulate gun sales.

These days, one of the biggest concerns with gun access revolves around 3-D printers, particularly around the possibility that a shooter could produce an unregistered weapon in the privacy of his or her home. But, for all the fuss about 3-D printers, a much bigger -- and more dangerous -- gun loophole is looming.

Recently, Mother Jones reporter Bryan Schatz told the story of how he constructed a fully-functioning, perfectly legal semiautomatic AK-47 assault rifle. Most of the parts came from disassembled guns that were made elsewhere and are totally legal to sell. The receiver -- basically, the only part whose sale is closely regulated -- had to be constructed by hand, a process that took Schatz a few hours in a machine shop.

Homemade AK-47s are legal, as long as the owner doesn't have a criminal record. They also don't have serial numbers, which makes them basically untraceable and impossible to regulate. And, unlike a 3-D printed handgun, AK-47s can fire ten rounds per second, are extremely durable, and can be easily repaired or replaced.

But what about price? Most 3-D printers that are capable of printing a gun cost over $1,000, making them a far from economical choice when it comes to firearms. While Schatz was circumspect about the cost of his gun, it's possible to buy basic AK-47 kits online for as little as $119. A brand-new barrel (the original barrels are cut into pieces) costs another $200 or so, and -- assuming one has the proper tools -- the cost of making a receiver is negligible. If one goes to a "build party," like the one Schatz attended, the price drops more.

In other words, while 3-D printed guns may be the cutting edge of technology, the biggest safety danger on the market is a bit more modest: 65-year-old, extremely common bit of battlefield armament that can be constructed in a garage and ordered on the internet.

Bruce Watson is DailyFinance's Savings editor. You can reach him by e-mail at, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.

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Robert Fowler

Private citizens have always been able to build their own guns. A check with the ATF tells that the gun is to be for personal use only and can not be transferred. So why the PSH? Just another liberal crying over something that is perfectly legal.

May 28 2013 at 2:44 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

You think a 3-D printer is high cost , try buying Machine shop equipment ! Then you have to have the ability to use it !! A machine shop is a never ending cost ! This story is so stupid in so many ways, every time I read a story on huffpoo it is 90% false and this is one of them.

May 28 2013 at 2:17 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

LOL... silly silly libs.... fantasies are for kids!!!

Homemade guns have been around a LONG LONG time.... heck, YouTube has THOUSANDS of videos detailing how to make them... From very simple "zip" guns to more complicated rifles and handguns.

Bottom line, the liberal mind operates solely on emotion rather then Facts, History, and Raw Real Statistics!!! Violent gun crime was a FRACTION of today's when there were NO gun restrictions!!! Hollywood has lied and the libs buy it hook-line-and-sinker!!! Events like the OK Corral were so rare, that the stories where sensationalized and are still told today.

Even "regular" gang violence proves this... 96 out of 100 shootings in the inner cities that are gang related, occur when the "target" is UNARMED!!! even the gang bangers wait until the other person is unarmed!!!

Oh and another fun fact... the Ft. Hood, Virginia Tech, Aurora movie theater, and the Newtown school shooters were ALL registered democrats!!!! The Columbine kids were to young to vote, but BOTH of them were raised by democrat registered parents!!! Even the Boston bombers spoke openly on social media that they voted for ole obama...
Here's some more, Almost 77% of ALL shootings, occur in densely populated "city" areas, where guess what??? the democrats enjoy almost 80% of registered voters, AND... the murder rate per 100,000 African Americans is nearly Quadruple that of Caucasians, and here's the funny part... almost 90% of African American registered voters are....... That's right..... DEMOCRAT!!!!!

I LOVE Facts and History!!!! The lib's need to take a LONG look at those pesky Facts!!!

May 28 2013 at 2:12 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Nothing new here. Well-equppied home machine shops can make most anything, including artillery.

May 28 2013 at 2:07 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

The media is back in form today. So far, there are three articles about guns - I'm sure there'll be more as the media digs through all it's sources. Didn't see anything today about the kid that wanted to blow up his high school but then obama's not trying to ban pipe bombs.

May 28 2013 at 1:12 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

No semi-automatic gun can fire 10 rounds per second. The finger just doesn't move that fast.
It is possible to make many guns fully automatic, if you know what you're doing.
But, possessing a fully automatic weapon is already a law of the highest order. If they catch
you with one they'll put you UNDER the jail - for a long time. That's what caused the "Branch Davidian" deal in Waco. Koresh was making semi's into full-autos and the ATF was after him.

May 28 2013 at 12:18 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

I'm more than slightly disgusted that liberal authors INSIST that when law abiding citizens have a firearm, no matter how obtained, it is a "danger." Always, always, placing the emphasis not on enforcing existing laws to keep BAD PEOPLE from having guns (or punishing them when they do get them), but rather on how to keep guns away from EVERYONE by passing even MORE restrictive laws. The statement "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns" has ALWAYS been a true, self-fulfilling statement. I don't want to be an outlaw, but I do INSIST that I have the right to protect myself from those who ARE outlaws.

May 28 2013 at 11:22 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Gun shows were popular long before the Brady (bunch) Bill, not a result of it. The ban on mail order guns following the Kennedy assasination had in reality almost nothing to do with the assassination ... Oswald could have bought that gun anywhere. The reason for the ban on mail order guns was that mail order was about the only way many Black folks could get one since most firearm retailers were in the non-Black neighborhoods, then as now. In any case, hopefully this story will cause insomnia to run rampant among gunapobes. :-)

May 28 2013 at 10:49 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Why do you print the official lie to the public. Gun dealers at gun shows must do back ground checks there is NO GUN SHOW loop hole. A private citizen does not have to do back ground checks whether at a gun show or any where. Please stop the lie to the public

May 28 2013 at 10:20 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Well DUH! People have been making guns at home for 100's of years. Suddenly it's a big "danger". People also make cars at home, and airplanes and boats and all sorts of things. How scary!!!!

May 28 2013 at 10:19 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply