A 3D-printing machine that can be used to create an untraceable metal firearm known as a 'Ghost Gun' has raised fears from authorities as it could allow anyone access to a handgun without any serial numbers, making it almost impossible to be tracked if used.
It is not the first time the controversial Ghost Gunner milling machine has been able to create a 'Ghost Gun' but now it can be programmed to carve out the metal frame of a handgun instead of plastic in just under an hour. Its creator is gun rights advocate Cody Wilson – the same person who created the world's first fully 3D-printed gun in 2013 from his Defense Distributed company.
Wilson has released new software for the tabletop $1,500 milling machine, which can create three-dimensional objects, and in this instance the Ghost Gunner can precisely shape a piece of aluminium to form the chassis of a semi-automatic pistol.
The rest of the DIY gun kit such as firing pin, barrel and slide can be easily purchased online anonymously and assembled at home to create a firearm with no traceable serial number leaving authorities in the dark.
This means anybody who purchases the machine could potentially own a lethal weapon, regardless of age bypassing background checks, criminal history and mental health scrutiny.
The spectre of homemade firearms has prompted California to ban 'ghost guns' but there is no law in the United States at federal level prohibiting anyone downloading and creating their own custom-made firearms.
In an article in Wired, California state senator said: "The ghost gun threat is real and growing. Are they being made by gang members? Are they being manufactured to sell to individuals who are prohibited from possessing firearms? Technologies that make it possible for the general public to manufacture guns raise serious questions."
It is claimed over 4,000 Ghost Gunner machines have been sold already with new updates being sent to customers on a USB stick via the post. Within an hour owners could possess a M1911 handgun frame – a popular chassis used in the production of the Colt 45. Wilson has said he plans to roll out further updates to enable the manufacture of untraceable Glock handguns too.
He has defended the latest update by saying customers will require a high level of expertise and skill to assemble the printed handgun, however this has not detracted from the number of alarmed authorities who are calling for a nationwide law that requires DIY gunmakers to apply for a serial number and engrave it on their firearm.
Technology has also seen the rise of the smart gun, whereby it can only be fired by the owner who has to be wearing a special smartwatch. The idea is to improve the safety of gun ownership by ensuring only approved persons can use the pistol. However, hackers were able to crack the technology using only a simple system of magnets to expose worrying vulnerabilities.
Gun control will once again be in the spotlight following the tragic machine gun massacre in Las Vegas on 2 October, where a gunman opened fire on a crowd at a music concert. With at least 58 dead and 406 injured it is the deadliest massacre in modern US history and many will be protesting at the 'relaxed gun laws' in the country.