Remember the ‘Ghost Gunner’? The CNC mill produced by Defense Distributed that gives one the ability to make a metal AR-15 lower receiver with ease?
Well, following it’s unveiling back in October of 2014, when it was available on pre-order for $1,200 (it’s now $1,500 due to the high demand), the machine is finally ready to ship! There’s only one problem. FedEx, the global courier Defense Distributed’s founder Cody Wilson opted to hire, is refusing to do its job.
“This device is capable of manufacturing firearms, and potentially by private individuals,” FedEx spokesperson Scott Fiedler told Wired in a statement.
“We are uncertain at this time whether this device is a regulated commodity by local, state or federal governments,” Fiedler continued. “As such, to ensure we comply with the applicable law and regulations, FedEx declined to ship this device until we know more about how it will be regulated.”
Wilson was blindsided by FedEx’s refusal to ship his product, not only because it’s perfectly legal but because of the relationship FedEx has developed with the nation’s gun lobby.
“I’ve got an account with another courier, but FedEx is bewildering because the reason I started with them in the first place was their [National Rifle Association] advantage program,” Wilson told Ars by text message.
Wilson believes that FedEx’s reluctance to ship the Ghost Gunner is politically motivated.
“They’re acting like this is legal when in fact it’s the expression of a political preference,” Wilson told Wired. “The artifact that they’re shipping is a CNC mill. There’s nothing about it that is specifically related to firearms except the hocus pocus of the marketing.”
In talking with a FedEx representative, Wilson tried to be explicit about what he was shipping. “This is no big deal, right? It’s just a mill,” Wilson says he told the FedEx rep. “You guys ship guns. You’ve shipped 3-D printers and mills, right? You’ll ship a drill press, right? Same difference.”
Nevertheless, FedEx decided not to ship it out.
The Ghost Gunner is designed primarily for 80 percent lowers, that is receivers that are 80 percent completed and just need minor but not easy-to-do tweaks to become fully operation. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives sets the limit at 80 percent complete, after which a receiver becomes regulated by law.
With its diminutive size (one foot by one foot), the machine isn’t built for heavy duty milling but can cut an aluminum 80 percent lower in about an hour.
And again, this process is perfectly legal, as Adam Winkler, a UCLA law professor and author of “Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America,” noted.
“This is not that problematic,” said Winkler to Wired. “Federal law does not prohibit individuals from making their own firearms at home, and that includes AR-15s.”
UPDATE, Wednesday 10:24am EST: It appears we can add UPS to the list of shipping companies that won’t send out the Ghost Gunner.
“UPS is continuing to evaluate such concerns with regard to the transportation of milling machines used to produce operable firearms but, at this point in time, will not accept such devices for transportation,” UPS spokesman Dan McMackin said in an email to Ars.