I Made an Untraceable AR-15 ‘Ghost Gun’ in My Office—and It Was Easy
Garage made versions of old gun designs are becoming much more feasible to make. This time it’s not about 3d printing. Now, it’s gone from possible, to feasible, to easy for the inexpert hand. Gun control advocates are in freak out mode, calling these guns “ghost guns” as if untraceable to Colt or Bushmaster or an the owner via FFL equals invisible, undetectable, unheard and supernatural. Even more frustrating they can’t advocate making it illegal to sell these guns it already is.
How often is the registered owner the shooter at a crime? Certainly not the majority. So far one and one gun only from a garage shop has been known to be used in a crime. It was no more or less deadly. The fact it was not made at a major manufacturer made no difference in solving the crime. It was certainly no “ghost”.
This is not just about guns. Thanks to technology from the CnC mills mentioned above and the internet, even a CnC mill made specifically for producing AR-15 frames, pretty much any small arms weapon is easy most of us to make given access to the machines and raw materials. Pistols. Grenades. Guns in “wildcat” or custom non production calibers and configurations. Bigger, faster, more accurate. harder hitting. It’s all easier to do now. This is the future now, fully decentralized manufacturing of hard goods. Mortar anyone? Some of you might be thinking “ridiculous, a mortar is just a tube until you have a warhead and propellant”. True, but IED tech has advanced to a highly dangerous state.
What does this garage shop gun thing really mean for crime? It’s unfortunate, but hardly disastrous. Troubling but not really a game changer. It’s still easier to remove a serial # than make a gun. Tig/laser welding anyone?
The good news is few people want to make a gun. Most by far of those have no criminal intent. Let’s say someone makes one and uses it. Unless they paid cash for all the other parts and the ammunition they still have left quite a retail trail.
Frankly if gun control advocates spend more than a small amount of time on this it’s counter productive. Universal registration, and a simple requirement to do the same with garage shop guns would take care of that. If someone needs a gun for a robbery, it’s easier to steal one than make one. That’s the criminal bottom line. Far and away easier to steal or buy underground than manufacture.
It’s not really all that common for the registered AR-15 or pistol owner to be the armed bank robber. In the instance of almost all the mass shootings and domestic shootings, there is no question who did it or how. There is no dirty gun dealer to discover as there was no gun dealer at all. There is no legitimate FFL to trace it to he or she does not exist. There is no big gun maker to hold responsible, none of them made the gun. This takes gun crime to the same place knife and club attacks have always been. Except it’s always going to be easier to make or get a knife or club than a gun.
Investigators have solved many crimes without the weapon being mfg. serialized, registered and wielded by the owner. Yes this will make resolving a few gun crimes more difficult. Exactly as difficult as when the gun is not recovered after the crime. No more no less.
THIS IS MY ghost gun. To quote the rifleman’s creed, there are many like it, but this one is mine. It’s called a “ghost gun”—a term popularized by gun control advocates but increasingly adopted by gun lovers too—because it’s an untraceable semiautomatic rifle with no serial number, existing beyond law enforcement’s knowledge and control. And if I feel a strangely personal connection to this lethal, libertarian weapon, it’s because I made it myself, in a back room of WIRED’s downtown San Francisco office on a cloudy afternoon.