Defense Distributed, the world's first maker of 3D-printed guns, has managed to obtain a federal license to manufacture and market firearms in the US.
The cheeky and controversial outfit has gotten plenty of coverage in recent months, as many observers expressed fears that 3D-printed weapons could prove tough to regulate. However, since anyone with a pulse and a body temperature in excess of 35 degrees Celsius can already get an assault rifle in the Land of The Free, we really don't understand what all the fuss is about.
Getting a proper licence could help Defense Distributed shake the largely negative public perception. Now it is a legitimate gun maker, and gun makers don't take a lot of flak in the States. That's what the National Rifle Association is for. It takes the heat and gets the limelight, while at the same time few people can name a single exec in the industry. On the other hand, NRA Chairman Wayne LaPierre is a household name.
However, although it now has a federal licence, Defense Distributed has a long way to go before it can churn out complete guns using solely 3D-printed bits, like its open source Wiki gun. It is focusing on specific components instead, such as receivers, grips and high capacity magazines. The latter are perhaps the most controversial. Any legislative effort to limit the capacity of magazines could be rendered pointless if anyone with access to a 3D printer is able to download and print a high capacity magazine.
Defense Distributed openly mocks the ongoing gun debate in the US. The outfit chose to name its high-capacity magazine prototypes "Cuomo" and "Feinstein", in honour of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senator Dianne Feinstein, two fairly outspoken advocates of gun control. In fact, Feinstein became mayor of San Francisco after mayor George Moscone and supervisor Harvey Milk were gunned down by a rival politician in City Hall. Feinstein was one of the first people on the scene and she even tried to plug Milk's wounds with her bare hands.
With that in mind, naming a high-capacity rifle magazine "Feinstein" sounds rather tasteless. However, it should be noted that Defense Distributed is incorporated in Texas, parts of which could be considered a Mecca of bad taste.