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OMG! With nothing but machine tools, steel and parts you can make a GUN!!

'3D printed plastic gun' man talks more rubbish

American? Been shot dead? Was it an accident? NO. Was it someone else? UNLIKELY. Was it an assault weapon? VERY UNLIKELY

"Assault weapon" is an emotive term used mainly by gun-control advocates and their opponents; it doesn't mean quite the same thing as "assault rifle". In general it refers to rifles like AR-15s which can hold a large number of cartridges and which are semi-automatic only (ie they fire one shot per trigger pull, rather than firing a burst or continuing to fire rounds as long as the trigger is held back). The fact that they are semi-auto only means they are easily and legally obtained under US law, but in most respects they are just as deadly as a similar military combat weapon capable of bursts or full-auto. (As an illustration of this fact, British combat troops are trained to fight with their SA80 assault rifles set to semi-automatic in almost all circumstances: the use of full-auto is seen as an unprofessional waste of ammunition except for certain tasks which are mostly done using other equipment.)

US gun-control advocates think that civilians shouldn't be allowed to have such weapons, or failing that, that they should be licenced or at least regulated or recorded in some way. US gun-rights advocates disagree, and mostly seem to be having things their way, though public emotion around "assault weapons" means that some states do have special laws about them.

It is perhaps worth noting that quite a lot of Americans do die by gunshot every year: at first sight it appears to be an issue about as serious as accidental poisonings or car crashes (all three causes did for similar numbers of Americans in 2009, around 30,000 each). But, significantly, when an American dies by gunshot it is normally suicide: when it is homicide (around a third of the time, so gun homicide is a noticeably less serious problem than cars and poisonings) it is very unlikely that the weapon used will be an "assault weapon" or indeed a rifle of any kind. Nearly all US gunshot homicides are carried out using handguns, not longarms. If the USA has a gun crime problem, it is nothing to do with "assault weapons" like the AR-15.

It might also be worth noting that, as gun-control advocates claim, it is rare for civilian US gun owners to use their weapons legally against criminals (for instance in "home defence" scenarios). However there are between 200 and 300 justifiable homicides of this kind every year, a number not so very much lower than the fatal shootings accounted for by law-enforcement types acting in the line of duty. This is a small phenomenon in such a big country with so many privately held guns: however one can say that gun owners justifiably shooting felons in the act is a bigger phenomenon by orders of magnitude than school attacks or other criminal mass-shootings.

So America's gun culture has its costs and its benefits: but neither are actually big issues. After all, a Brit from the gun-control paradise existing in the UK*** seldom says to himself or herself "no, I shall not go and visit/work in the USA, they have guns there and I might get shot" - it would be silly. It would exceptionally silly to worry about being shot with an AR-15.

So perhaps gun control doesn't really need to be such a big issue in the States. It absolutely certainly isn't a big deal that the Ghost Gunner is on the market, no matter what earnest US gun-control types may say. It's a damn sight more difficult to arm yourself with an AR-15 by means of Ghost Gunner than it is to just go and buy one legally.

So sure, the gun panickers in the US "tech" media are behaving like fools over this.

But then on the other hand you have nutcases like Wilson and the lunatic fringe among American gun owners, who say that yes it is a big deal because the Ghost Gunner will prevent the damn guvmint from taking away their guns as (they believe) it is always conspiring to do.

Leaving aside for the moment the fact that the guvmint just isn't conspiring to take their guns away - it is proving politically impossible to introduce even so much as compulsory background checks on purchase, let alone registration or licencing, let alone any form of ban - you have to wonder why it is so very vital to preserve an absolute right to own small-arms. We've just seen that, no, statistically you are vanishingly unlikely to need deadly force for home or self defence: and indeed you can reasonably question whether it genuinely makes you safer to have a gun, as US deaths in firearms accidents - though very rare compared to suicides or homicides - are a bit more common than justifiable homicides by private gun owners. Have a gun or a whole lot of guns by all means, but don't kid yourself that's why you've got them.

Well that may be, the argument goes, but there's more: if the people are armed the government can't oppress them.

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