The Rachel Maddow Show | March 01, 2013
>>> okay it is 1985 , and you have a phone call , you specifically have a cell phone call. do you want to answer it? have you been working out? how is your bicep strength? early cell phones were huge, so big they required their very own carrying kit like a little suitcase. but at the time they seemed awesome, right? the very idea of taking your own phone with you out in the world was so amazing, that who cared if you had to have a car battery in place to do it. either way , they were so clunky and so expensive, the idea evolved quickly from the suitcase nuke in 1995 , they got smaller and smaller until they finally had to figure out how much computer audio work we do on them. so it has taken a long time but we have made the leap. and who knows what they will do in the future? but the way it traveled has not just changed the device but it changed the way we lived. we're at the part of another change driven by technology, where the technology now is clunky and awkward, but if you can imagine your way around that clunkiness and awkwardness, you can see the device leaps forward the way that cell phone tech leapt forward, then these guys may change, too. this is 3-d printing, i don't know if we'll call it that forever. but that is what they call it now. just as a printer, it uses ink and light to create a two dimensional object on paper, these computer-driven machines can use plastics and resins and inks to create the 3-d objects, anybody can become a manufacturer of anything. the set of instructions that map out the shape of the object you create using the printer, that comes in the form of a computer file . you plug in the file and leave in the 3-d printer to do its work, then protest -- presto, you can manufacture something yourself. these printers are still pretty slow and clumsy and expensive. usually in the thousand or several thousand dollar range. but they have the futuristic objects, that can create like a 3-d printed car, or how about a 3-d prosthetic limb? or how about a 3-d printed gun? the part of this gun printed using the 3-d printer was the weird color there, the part called the lower receiver, in laymen's terms it is like the engine of the gun, the part that is registered and regulated. you can track all the other parts of the gun, like the metal and muzzle as if they were the part of the metal. that is the part with the serial number , the heart of the gun. and shortly after newtown we reported on this show on an initiative to use 3-d printing to make lower receivers for assault-style rifles. at home. people have started to make lower receivers for ak-47 style weapons at home using a file that you can download on the internet. you can actually download it, right here. i have one on my computer which makes me wonder about the next time i have one of those things where nbc comes and checks my computer. this is what happened when the folks that checked that lower computer, fitted other parts of a gun onto that piece that they printed with a 3-d printer. this is the video they released of themselves firing bullets out of it. and as you can see, the 3-d printed gun failed and busted apart after it fired about six rounds. which makes it -- yes, a gun. but the technical term for what kind of gun it is, is that it is a crappy gun because it blew apart after six rounds. but this kind of thing probably wouldn't stay a crappy gun for long, that is what i said the day we broadcast that on december 17th , which was three days after newtown. this week, the folks that 3-d-printed the receiver, the one that failed, the one i called the crappy gun. look at it this week, they unveiled this one, it with stood more than 660 rounds of high veve velocity bullets, that holds dozens of bullets. they only stopped firing with what they said was their 3-d home-printer. they claim this lower receiver is the one they -- the 3-d printed it out of plastic or resin, a and they say they believe it could have easily with stood a thousand rounds if only they had enough bullets to keep testing it. obviously, these guys are very proud of what they accomplished, and politically they wanted the attention. when they first posted the video under the blog, the caption said they welcome congress back from vacation. they also say we have the printed ar-lowers figured out. they say wither gun control , they are doing it for political reasons, they want guns to be unregulatable. 300 guns are not enough, more and more is the solution. but whether you agree with them or not. whether you find what they're doing exciting or terrifying or both, you have to admit it raises questions about law enforcement and guns in this country. i mean, how do you go about regulating the gun if everybody can make one themselves at home alone , one that can shoot a thousand rounds. there is no serial number on that receiver, and obviously, nobody bought it or sold it. it is homemade, how is law enforcement in this country going to grapple with homemade high-powered weapons. what will they do when they print the 3-d fully automatic machine gun ? the government agency that will have to deal with the challenges of this new technology when it happens is the atf . last month when president obama unveiled his proposed gun reforms at the white house , one thing he asked congress to do was confirm the nominee to run atf , a man named todd jones who has been acting as deputy director of the atf for five years. president obama asked congress to stop hindering law enforcement , and he called congress out for allowing anybody to be confirmed as director of the atf for six years now. this week we got news that even that part of what president obama confirmed on guns, even just asking the director of the law enforcement agency that is concerned with federal gun laws , yeah, republicans in congress may just oppose that too. they don't want anybody running that after six years. republicans increasingly make the case that we should not have any knew gun laws , even after sandy hook because we do not need new gun laws , what we need is better enforcement of the laws we have. we don't do a good job of enforcing for gun laws we have. they have made that case over and over again, they made it again at the public hearings. at the same time the continued unwillingness to confirm anybody to run the agency that is enforcing the gun laws we have. they have been stopping anyone from running the agency since 2006 , they still think that is the right thing to do for the count country. maybe watching this 3-d image of it spewing out some 600 rounds, that does it for us. now it is time for "the last word," have a great weekend.