The ability to build a firearm for yourself has always been an issue for anti-gunners. If you can do so legally, you completely bypass all the controls they successfully put in place to dictate who can and can’t own a firearm and to make sure you’ve said “mother may I?” to the government before doing so. If you can just build a gun all on your own, well, you won’t have to do any of that.

Lately, they’ve been trying to push for a ban on homebuilt firearms, particular by addressing the less than 80 percent completed receivers people can purchase. With those receivers, someone can finish them up and have a firearm that’s completely off the books.

That has an appeal to some, especially in light of recent political talk about banning and confiscating firearms.

Up in Canada, though, they’re of the opinion that this creates a real issue for police.

The so-called ghost guns that have become an enforcement nightmare in different jurisdictions have come to Winnipeg, adding to the challenges faced by local police coping with a sharp rise in crime related to firearms.

Ghost gun is slang for a homemade firearm that doesn’t have an identifier such as a serial number. They’re often made by people who want to bypass background checks and registration regulations.

Homemade guns are nothing new in Winnipeg — earlier versions were dubbed zip guns or pipe guns — but modern technology, such as online ordering and 3D printers, has made it much easier to obtain the knowledge and pieces to construct improvised guns of much higher quality.

Winnipeg Police Service confirmed to the Free Press last week that ghost guns have been seized in this city, although fortunately, they are still relatively rare here. It’s not as if investigators need another source of guns to worry about.

I hate to break it to you, though, these firearms aren’t new.

Oh, the editorial notes that zip guns were a thing, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about what P.A. Luty did in 1998. He developed a submachine gun that could be built out of parts from the hardware store. It could be constructed with equipment that many garage workshops have. For more than 20 years, we’ve been able to build a fully-automatic firearm completely outside of the gun laws.

The truth is, gun control laws have been obsolete ever since.

With new technology, all it does is simplify the process a bit and allow people to construct different firearm designs. If anything, since most of these kits are for semi-auto weapons, the police should feel a bit of relief that the bad guys aren’t using Luty’s design. After all, semi-auto is usually preferable to full-auto if you’re on the receiving end of it.

Gun control laws will never again be able to truly restrict who can and can’t own a firearm. Not really. Not that they ever really did. Those with the know-how and tooling have always been able to build guns and they always will.

It’s just that when you have heavy restrictions on who can and can’t have a firearm, you create an environment where it becomes more profitable to do so.