Restrictive gun laws don’t keep guns out of the hands of bad guys. They’ll get their guns on the black market, or simply make them as you’ll see below. J.D. Tuccille details the efforts of various criminals, rebels, insurgents, and enthusiasts to produce their own firearms. He writes:
The types of weapons people produce for their own use range widely in sophistication: “from crude, improvised single-shot guns to semi-professionally manufactured copies of conventional firearms.” The trend is toward more advanced weapons—including mortars, recoilless weapons, and grenade launchers—to satisfy the demands of non-state groups that are often locked in conflict with the governments attempting to disarm them.
That illicit production is so common shouldn’t be a surprise. The authors point out that production techniques for firearms continue to be based on 19th-century technology. In an era when home-based hobbyists have access to equipment that would make industrial age entrepreneurs drool, that means there’s little barrier to making what can’t be legally purchased.
“Consequently,” the report notes, “individuals with the desire to undertake fairly straightforward research and acquire basic tools and equipment can manufacture viable homemade small arms.”
While many headlines have been devoted in recent years to 3D printing and CNC machinery, which ease the task of manufacturing goods including firearms, these high-tech approaches haven’t been necessary to kneecap efforts by governments to disarm their subjects. They do, however, lower the barrier to entry for those who would make their own guns.
“3D manufacturing will not render current international and national controls on firearms obsolete,” the report’s authors say. “It may, however, make applying these controls more difficult, in effect posing new law enforcement challenges. As additive manufacturing technologies continue to improve and become more readily available to private individuals, it will become increasingly difficult to enforce regulations on firearms manufacturing.”
A technology that is already making a major difference in easing DIY gun manufacturing is the internet. “The online sharing of expertise and instructional videos is facilitating the craft production of increasingly sophisticated weapons, including sub-machine guns and anti-materiel rifles,” the authors write. But you don’t need to take their word for it; instead, you should check out Reason‘s handy-dandy guide to making your own off-the-books handgun. Video instructions are included.
As of yet, DIY weapons probably constitute a small fraction of the firearms in circulation. Nobody knows how many homemade guns are out there for sure, of course, but commercially manufactured guns remain legally available in much of the world, and easily accessible through black market means in much of the rest. Buying what you want is generally easier than manufacturing the goods.
Read more here.