Second Amendment advocates learned of two new reasons for optimism last month. First, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., effectively killed the assault weapons ban proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., by removing it from the broader gun package in order to increase the bill’s chances of passing.
Reid made that move despite his fellow Democrat’s very confrontational encounter with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who questioned Feinstein’s understanding of the Constitution only to have her reply that she is “not a fifth grader” and then describe bringing the father of a child killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School to Capitol Hill so he could describe the last time he saw his first grader-alive.
Feinstein’s legislative setback was followed by a bureaucratic victory for gun activists: the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives granted a 3D printing company a federal firearms license. In a nutshell, 3D printing, also called additive manufacturing, enables you to take data and turn it into a 3D object. Now, anyone with a 3D printer can download plans from the web to fabricate items, layer by layer. The technology has been around for decades, but has just now experienced vast innovation which has made it much more cost-efficient.
Defense Distributed is a 3D printing company which is now legally allowed to manufacture and sell firearms and ammunition in the United States. As 3D printing continues to advance in efficiency and sophistication, proposed weapons bans will continue to become more difficult to enforce.
While no working firearms have as yet been built using only 3D printed parts, the technology is advancing quickly. Last year, a man using the name HaveBlue in an AR-15 forum put at least 200 rounds through a 22-caliber pistol that he had built with a combination of classically constructed and plastic printed parts. The CEO of Defense Distributed, Cody Wilson, has also publicly fired 600 rounds with a 3D printed receiver.
In addition to actual 3D printing, Wilson has begun a repository of plans called the Wiki Weapon Project. The purpose is to gather and make available plans for a working gun that could be made using a relatively cheap 3D printers. Another 3D printing company, MakerBot, has pulled gun blueprints from its repository of plans under pressure from anti-gun groups. Defense Distributed continues to host these controversial files and Wilson has vowed to resist political pressure to remove them. To date, the site’s files have been downloaded more than 400,000 times.
Wilson explained his decision to Engineering.com, saying: “We thought how interesting would it be not to just 3D print a gun, but to open-source it and then allow anyone in the world to 3D print a gun regardless of whatever their laws have to say, perhaps that would be a socially significant project.”
The self-described “crypto-anarchist” seems to take civil liberties very seriously. The decision to make plans available raises very interesting First-Amendment issues. Namely, are plans to build illegal weapons speech? While Wilson seems to think they are, and seems to be motivated by that belief, writers such as Kyle Maxey at Engineering.com are conflicted about whether Cody Wilson can be an “advocate of free speech” while still seeking profit from his innovations. Either way, the people who love guns the most may soon be able to make them.
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Joseph Hammond
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Emma Elliott Freire