DIY rifles are untraceable and completely legal
"Ghost Guns" are starting to show up at crime scenes in Texas. One Austin man is in the middle of this controversy and he says we may start seeing even more of these guns in circulation.
He doesn't condone illegal gun activity, but Cody Wilson will not shy away from the contentious debate around guns and gun control.
Gunfire echoes through the Best of the West gun range in Liberty Hill as the 29-year-old Wilson assembles his gun.
He says his aim is clear. "We are trying to affect American gun politics," Wilson said.
Wilson is a pretty good shot, hitting the target time after time as he fires off rounds with his AR-15 rifle. He says he's trying to forge a new future for firearms by removing the barriers for access and ownership.
"We will force a kind of respect, political or otherwise, upon the people's free and universal access to arms," he said.
Wilson made history by developing the first 3D printed single shot handgun in 2013 called the Liberator.
His mission is to create the world's first Wiki weapon and share the plans of the 3D printed gun on the internet.
"We were shut down like two days after that pistol was developed then released," Wilson said.
As he continues fighting the US State Department in court, Wilson's company Defense Distributed in Austin launched a new operation.
"The government will shut down one project," Wilson said. "We start up another."
Wilson now makes and sells what he calls the Ghost Gunner milling machine. The machine precisely drills the holes in a metal piece called a lower receiver so you can build an AR-15 in your garage.
"I feel confident that there are at least 20,000 AR-15's out there that wouldn't be out there without this machine and there's not strings on them," Wilson said. "You don't know where they are."
You don't know where they are because the government can't track this weapon. Once Wilson's Ghost Gunner machine drills out the trigger mechanism on the lower receiver of the AR-15 you can buy the rest of the parts off the internet and assemble the rifle.
People have been doing for years but Wilson's machine makes it easier than ever. There is no serial number, no registration, no background check and it's perfectly legal.
But, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms says there are serious concerns with un-serialized weapons like this.
"Any gun without a serial number that's untraceable is a concern of ours," Special Agent in Charge of Houston Field Division Fred Milanowski said. "And it should be a concern for the public."
Agent Milanowski says we are starting to see these Ghost Guns show up on crime scenes Texas but he said he could not reveal details surrounding ongoing cases.
"If it shows up on a murder scene we don't have any way of going back to see who originally purchased that gun and then track it to hopefully the person who pulled that trigger," Milanowski said.
"Our job is harder," he said. "It's impossible to figure out where it came from."
Wilson says he respects ATF and the job they do but he also says ATF should be concerned. He says it's inevitable that Ghost Guns will end up at crime scenes but he says there are not a lot of them out there yet.
"It's still completely outside the norm for gun crimes to involve these types of weapons," Wilson said.
But he welcomes the controversy.
"This is thoroughly an enjoyable thing and it's kinda like playing battleship when I see fire and the government bureaucrats scatter and stuff I know that I'm on to something," he said.
As Wilson continues to promote the decentralized distribution of weapons he says there are new plans in the works for the Ghost Gunner machine and milling new gun parts.
"There's no full stop way to kind of lock innovation," Wilson said. "You cannot put the brakes on it. We'll simply route around attempted censorship and attempt things that are legal."