Mills and drill presses have been around for a while, and pending legislation would ban any from private ownership that falls under a broad definition approved by a gun-control group. (Photo: Library of Congress)
Democrats on Capitol Hill have introduced a bill championed by anti-gun advocates to strictly regulate machines designed for the manufacturing of firearm frames or receivers.
The measure, titled the “Stop Home Manufacture of Ghost Guns Act of 2020,’’ would ban ownership of what the bill terms a “firearms manufacturing device” unless the tool is in the hands of a federally licensed firearm maker or of a business that produces such machines for use by FFLs.
Confusingly, the broad new definition to be added to federal code would place the regulation on “a device designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be used primarily to make or convert a product into, a frame or receiver for a firearm, and any combination of parts designed or intended for use in making” such a device.
While it could be argued by the bill’s sponsors that the measure is aimed at high-profile desktop milling machines like the Ghost Gunner and similar devices, it should be pointed out that there are dozens of different brands of hobbyist-level mini CNC machines for sale both online and at hardware outlet chains such as Harbor Freight that can be used in an array of metal and polymer fabrication work to include producing firearm frames or receivers. This suggests the bill’s sponsors may not be aware of what they are trying to accomplish, or, worse, are being coy with the scope of the legislation.
Moreover, such mills are not even needed in many cases. A variety of 20th Century firearms, such as STEN guns and the Luty SMG were specifically designed to be crafted in garage-level workshops with simple handtools. Guns such as the AK have had their receivers made from a shovel in recent years. Today, a host of commercially-available 3D printers can produce a range of polymer or, through metal sintering, aluminum firearm frames. These plans are widely shared.
Further, while NFA rules apply to home-built guns, firearms outside of NFA restrictions can legally be made by anyone who can possess them under the law.
With that being said, it is unsure just what a “firearms manufacturing device” may be under the proposed bill, a definition that could be far in scope and, like most gun control regulations, have little actual effect on crime. Nonetheless, the bill’s backers are sure that they are on the right track when it comes to adding a new law to the books.
“It is time for Congress to ban ghost guns and the flourishing traffic in the technology which manufactures them,” said the bill’s sponsor, U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat publically endorsed by Everytown last week. Everytown plans to spend $60 million on the 2020 elections.
The bill, entered as H.R. 7468 and referred to the Democrat-controlled House Committee on the Judiciary, also has the fast support of Giffords.
“We must stop the proliferation of these easy to make, untraceable guns that can be obtained with no background check, “Adzi Vokhina, Giffords Federal Affairs Director, contends. “Clamping down on the milling machines that make it virtually effortless to create an arsenal of untraceable weapons from a basement or garage is a good place to start.”