Ghost Guns
Hobbyists, Hackers, and the Homemade Weapons Revolution
by Mark A. Tallman
August 2020, 232pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-6564-0
$39, £29, 34€, A53
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-6565-7
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The United States remains one of the only countries where it is legal to make firearms without a license.

With thorough analysis and balanced reporting, Ghost Guns: Hobbyists, Hackers, and the Homemade Weapons Revolution is an essential resource for readers seeking to understand the rise of homemade firearms and future options for managing them.

For more than a century, strict gun control was possible because firearms were produced in centralized industrial factories. Today, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, combining old and new technologies, threatens to upend this arrangement. An increasing number of hobbyists, “makers,” technology provocateurs, and sophisticated criminals are proving that you don’t need a factory to make guns anymore.

The security challenges of this transformation are increasingly apparent, but the technologies behind it hold tremendous potential, and while ignoring the security implications would entail risks, the costs of new policies also must be evaluated. “Do-it-yourself,” or DIY, weapons will bring significant ramifications for First and Second Amendment law, international and homeland security, crime control, technology, privacy, innovation, and the character of open source culture itself. How can a liberal society adjust to technologies that make it easier to produce weapons and contraband?

Informative and thought-provoking, Ghost Guns: Hobbyists, Hackers, and the Homemade Weapons Revolution carefully analyzes the technical, legal, social, political, and criminological trends behind this challenging new area of illicit weapons activity.


  • Provides readers with informative background on DIY gun laws and legislative trends and fascinating descriptions of legal and illegal practices with homemade weapons around the world
  • Presents in-depth explanations of the consumer appeal, technology, economics, politics, and enforcement challenges behind America's quickly growing DIY gun-making phenomenon
  • Evaluates the current and future appeal of homemade weapons for differing types of crime and terrorism
  • Offers a series of forward-looking recommendations for weapons control and security policy in an increasingly "post-industrial" 21st century
Mark A. Tallman, PhD, ABCP, CIPS, RSO, WFR, is a security educator, researcher, and consultant. He is assistant professor of homeland security and emergency management at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Tallman previously instructed for Colorado State University-Pueblo's Center for the Study of Homeland Security and Center for Cybersecurity Education and Research, and was a project manager for the University of Denver's Program on Terrorism and Insurgency Research. Tallman is an experienced private security and emergency management consultant, and co-directs a security planning consultancy.


"Tallman’s point is clear: The trend to create guns that state and federal governments cannot trace is growing."—The New York Times, October 9, 2020

"5 stars for content and writing style." —, June 9, 2021

"The most important book ever published about the future of firearms. With expert scientific knowledge, Tallman explains firearms manufacturing past, present, and future—showing that the widespread return of homemade guns is unstoppable. His policy prescriptions provide thoughtful and realistic guidance about how policymakers can anticipate and adapt to the new industrial revolution." —David B. Kopel, Cato Institute; University of Denver, Sturm College of Law

"A factual look inside an emotionally charged subject with serious consequences for society. The insights that Mark Tallman delivers in this book have implications for crime, terrorism, militia activity, self-defense, and a panoply of related issues regarding weapons manufacturing. Ghost Guns provides a compelling rationale for better understanding the societal and technological elements of firearms development to achieve a set of pragmatic options for the ongoing gun policy debate."—Lt. General David A. Deptula, USAF (Ret.), Senior Scholar, Center for Character and Leadership Development, USAF Academy

"Ghost Guns is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the manufacture, distribution, and regulation of do-it-yourself guns. Tallman has written a thorough, balanced, reasonable account of the social and legal challenges posed by these weapons. A timely contribution to debates over gun policy."—Ann Larabee, author of The Wrong Hands: Popular Weapons Manuals and Their Historic Challenges to a Democratic Society

"Tallman has written the definitive guide to how modern small arms are actually being designed, manufactured, distributed, and used in the 21st century. This is the kind of deeply researched yet accessible scholarship that's essential if we're to drag gun laws and gun control debates out of the 1980s where they've been hopelessly stuck. Everyone who's involved in the gun policy debates needs to read this book immediately, before they design another research program or write another firearm law. It's that important."—Jon Stokes, co-founder of Ars Technica and Open Source Defense, deputy editor at The Prepared
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