A firearm, in a basic sense, is a rather simplistic mechanical instrument. While making a quality firearm is a real art, the truth is that making crude functioning firearm is not too difficult, as we’ll see in this article.
We are sharing this information to debunk the idea peddled by the antigun crowds that firearms will simply disappear from a society if governments try to ban them. That idea we believe to be false. If people really want guns, they will get them. Simple as that.
Disclaimer: At this point I have to explicitly say that to make your own firearm is highly dangerous and highly illegal, DON’T do it.
We’ve reported on this issue of manufacture of firearms before, especially pertaining to the developments in the arena of 3D Printing.
3D plastic and 3D metal printing is sure to revolutionise the manufacturing process. People will be able to download files from the internet and print them in three dimensions on 3D Printers. The potential this will have for the manufacture of firearms is enormous. A group called Defence Distributed is already working on this.
But even 3D printers are not really needed at all for making home built firearms. In it’s most basic sense, to make a functioning shotgun, all you need is a pipe, and a nail, and a way to keep the shell in the pipe (barrel).
See the video below illustrating a crude functioning home-made shotgun. Note this is a 12 gauge, the most powerful shotgun shell typically used. Also note that this information is already on You Tube, readily available to anyone that’s interested.
Here is another example of a home made pipe gun. Note: this is NOT legal in South Africa, not by any stretch of the imagination.
Here is an example of a home made 12 gauge shotgun pistol.
The makers of these weapons listed the prices for components falling in the region of 7USD to 35USD (about R56 to R280). Not much money at all.
What about semi-automatic or automatic firearms? Do people home make these?
In short, yes, and there’s no doubt in my mind that 3D printing will eventually make this possible to many more people. But at this stage, making a semi-auto firearm is more difficult as it has more parts that need to work together in precision.
However, it certainly is not impossible. To make one, you’re likely to need a milling machine and some technical skills of a machinist. But both are already abundant in our society.
Speaking of machinist skills, check out this sophisticated design by a clearly talented machinist. Below follows a video of a functioning Semi-auto Sten rifle that was allegedly home built. Seems to be working rather well, I’d say.
Many more people on You Tube claim to have made functioning Sten rifles. I could not verify that, but when you think about it, making a crude semi-auto, or even an auto firearm, may bot be as complicated as some would believe.
Basically a pipe, a piston, a spring, and a nail for a striker pin is needed, with some other parts and refinements. (Putting it together to function properly is not as easy though, but certainly not impossible.) A magazine is basically a box, with a spring and a depressor plate. People also made these, and, recently 3D printer technology was used to print an AR15 Magazine. See the Cuomo AR Mag.
Even Wikipedia was kind enough to provide a link to the following document: “The Sten MKII, complete machine plans”, just scroll down the Wikipedia page to the bottom of the page to see it under external links. These plans, on Wikipedia, explain how to make an automatic Sten rifle. In a few years, advanced AR 15 CAD plans will also be readily available. That is unless they stop the internet. (Proving that one attempt at prohibition always builds on another.)
Ever since that little thing called the internet came into being, plans for firearms are no longer difficult to come by. Many are floating around in cyberspace. Heck, Wikipedia are dishing them out as evidenced above. But if you are still ignorant about this, there are many internet sites with plans for the production and building of home made firearms.
Yet even without plans, people managed to make some impressive home built firearms over the years. Here’s another You Tuber that made a 22 calibre pistol completely from scratch. And another with an example of a paintball gun converted to a 22 calibre pistol. I’ve even seen a staple gun converted to a firearm.
In the clip embedded below, the person made a very professional looking 22 calibre pistol. The commentator mentions that it took him about a week to produce the firearm below and cost about 10 USD (approx. R 80) worth of scrap metal welded together. That is substantially less than a 9mm Glock 19 that retails for about R 8000-00 at present.
Formally, firearms are manufactured in countries with comparative advantages in the manufacture of arms. But let’s say we limit the import of arms from those countries and we restrict access and possession. At some point, home production of firearms will start up again, providing people perceive a real need for firearms and weapons.
The following website provides various interesting examples of self-made or home-built firearms. These weapons were apparently seized by the police and Russian Army in Chechnya.
The writer of the article argues that “there was even a self-made machine gun” among the weapons seized. Below are some pics taken from the website illustrating the home made weapons.
An example of a very crude home built firearm follows below.
Here’s another picture from the same website, showing a more sophisticated example. Notice the magazine that seems to be a functioning medium capacity magazine.
Yet another pic from the same site follows: I suppose this is what happens with enough practice and experience. The designs below seem much improved and reflect, from the looks of it, functioning magazine fed semi-auto firearms comparable to store bought weapons.
The guy that conceived the next example below should be the winner of some form of ‘evil genius’ award. Imagine the creativity needed to come up with this idea: turning an electric drill into a firearm.
That’s the thing about people, for better or worse, people are creative and make stuff, even guns.
The gun, as a psychological archetype is firmly engrained in the human psyche. Humans as “tool making animals,” will also not stop making tools. That holds for guns as well. The gun as a tool will not be going away any time soon.
That turns the gun control debate into a political question, as all states will be able to do about guns is to affect ownership patterns.
People will make, or try to make guns, even if they are banned, even if they are previously confiscated. If you think this only applies to the East Block, think again, Dallas News reports that “ATF seized homemade firearms from Waxahachie man.” The story reads:
“Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Dallas seized three homemade firearms from a Waxahachie man last summer after being tipped off by the man’s son.
Agents took one 22-caliber rifle and two 22-caliber pistols from the home of Bennie Nephous Adams, 70, on the 700 block of Becky Lane in July while executing a search warrant, federal records show. They also took a three-ring notebook with “drawings and manufacturing specifications.”
People assuming that governments will be able to ban all the guns, and get all the guns, in society, are living in a dream world. Governments simply won’t be able to do so.
Ultimately, guns don’t come from boxes, gun stores, or pistol fairies; they are designed and made by people. And people that want to have guns, will have them; even if they have to make them themselves.
Note that the morality of the perceived need for a gun doesn’t matter at all. What matters is that people can make them if they want them. This evident production of firearms is often forgotten in the gun prohibition debates. That doesn’t mean it’s not real and applicable.
The question then becomes: under a firearm prohibition, who will make the guns? Who will own the guns? Who will smuggle them? And who will fire them? The short answer is, by definition not the law-abiding people, that choose to comply with the prohibition laws in the first place.
A market for illegal home made guns is sure to produce very dangerous products. That is evident from the crude examples considered. Firearms are presently manufactured with high degree of quality control. This won’t be so in an illegal market for home build firearms. That’s another problem to consider.
Ultimately the ‘gun genie’ is firmly out of the bottle. Any restriction on firearms will only be upheld by law abiding people in any case.
At this point in time, I don’t think we’ll see people making home made firearms at a greater scale in the very near future. Smuggling guns is still very easy and profitable for the illicit firearms traders running circles around law enforcement efforts.
In truth, I think you can still get an illegal gun in most places in the world if that was your desire. Home building illegal guns is not yet needed, but that does not exclude it from happening if the conditions change.
Since drugs could not be contained even in the US, it is logical to think guns also won’t be contained and will be smuggled in as easily.
Think about illegal “basement Meth labs” as a similar example. Such labs are also highly illegal. Yet they seem to be springing up everywhere. No sooner than one is closed down by the authorities, another replaces it, led by yet another ‘black market’ entrepreneur willing to take the risk.
The flow of drugs has not yet stopped, not by a long shot. I think the same thing will happen with ‘home factories’ for illegal guns. If only 1% of the criminal class enters a market to produce illegal firearms, how many of such factories will there be? Hundreds? Thousands? How many guns will they make? Who knows?
Even if authorities ‘get’ all the guns in a civilian prohibition by magic (clearly impossible); people as ‘tool making animals’, if perceiving a need for a firearm, will simply start making more.
What concerns me then is who the ones making them and owning them will be. To conclude this post, here’s a youtube clip with interesting examples of home made firearms from across the world.