Could Your Home Milling Project Be Illegal?

7 October 2015
 Categories: , Articles


A miniature end mill can provide the dedicated craftsman with the ability to create a nearly endless variety of metal crafts or functional pieces of equipment. However, when news broke that some individuals had been able to craft a fully functional, completely untraceable semi-automatic weapon using only a $1,200 end mill, legislators and law enforcement officers took notice. 

While you may be interested in creating guns or other weapons for hobby use only, you could potentially find yourself in legal trouble if you sell or give away any of your creations. Read on to learn more about the types of weapons that can be crafted with a miniature end mill, as well as the criminal statutes governing the use and sale of such items. 

What types of weapons can be created by milling?

End mills have long been used to create intricate, detailed knives and swords that are unlike any you can find in a store. You can also use these machines to modify and customize store-bought knives, swords, and katanas.

Rudimentary metal guns have also been created using miniature end mills. These guns can often look more like a prototype or an alien rendition of what a gun may look like than a store-bought weapon. However, these milled guns are just as effective (and deadly) as the real thing.   

The design of the "ghost gunner" milling machine, created to craft only a single object (the lower receiver of an AR-15 rifle) has revolutionized the home weapons-crafting business. This lower receiver is the most crucial component of any weapon, particularly a semi-automatic weapon, as it connects the magazine, barrel, and other key parts. While some gun enthusiasts have been able to modify semi-automatic weapons to fully automatic by tweaking the lower receiver, it was only recently that these enthusiasts were able to entirely craft their own lower receiver.  

Could you be arrested if you mill an item that could be used as a weapon? 

Blade weapons, like knives and swords, are generally unregulated by federal and state governments except in a few specific situations. You probably won't be able to bring your katana sword into a government building, and if you're planning to bring a knife with your carry-on luggage on a flight, it will need to be below a certain size threshold to avoid being forfeited or placed into checked luggage. However, other than these exceptions, you should be permitted to mill and sell or keep any number of blades. 

Gun control laws, on the other hand, are much stricter. With a few exceptions, those who purchase firearms are required to undergo a criminal background check to ensure that there are no felony convictions that would prevent the applicant from legally owning a gun. This can include "homemade" guns, as well as those purchased from retailers.

Because legislators did not predict that technology would advance enough to allow individuals to easily and inexpensively build functional, untraceable semi-automatic weapons at home, the actual building of these guns (including the milling of the lower receiver) is legal. However, if you sell, or attempt to sell, a gun that was home-milled, you could face significant criminal penalties. Most states codify the sale of an unlicensed or unregistered gun as a felony, which means you could face prison time if caught and convicted. 

Even if you have no plans to sell your homemade gun, it's wise to keep this gun in a highly secured location. If this gun is stolen during a break-in and later used to commit a crime, you could find yourself called onto the carpet to answer for this crime, and could be sued in civil court by the surviving family members of any victims.

It's likely that gun-control laws will soon catch up with technology, criminalizing the milling of lower receivers if these receivers are later used to create a semi-automatic weapon. Stay ahead of the game by collecting information or protection from law firms like Bare Law Firm.