Anybody who has looked into the history of the politics and legalities of firearms knows that the people who write and interpret laws regarding firearms are generally clueless about the subject matter. The same is true for technology (and possibly more so). The people who write and interpret laws regarding technology are almost always completely clueless about the subject matter. But what happens when you combine firearms and technology? An entirely new level of ignorance is unlocked:
On Monday, a federal court in Washington state blocked Cody Wilson and his company Defense Distributed from putting his 3D-printed gun schematic online. The court’s order—the latest in a years-long legal tussle that has picked up this summer—largely focuses on government rulemaking procedures, but a number of times it has to consider how technology works. When it does, it manages to get the technology remarkably wrong.
Perhaps the most comical of these is when the decision considers whether letting the schematic go online will cause “irreparable harm.” Most of the files are already online, Wilson’s attorneys argued, so what’s the harm in putting them up yet again? Yet the court disagreed, saying those online copies might be hard to find—only “a cybernaut with a BitTorrent protocol” could locate them “in the dark or remote recesses of the internet.”
If you think downloading a schematic for a firearm is insane, just want until you see what else I can do with a BitTorrent protocol! You’ll have to wait though since I’m short on BitTorrent protocols at the moment (please donate).
In addition to the use of the word cybernaut, I find it comical that the Internet Archive is considered a dark and remote recess of the Internet by this judge.
What should really stand out about this story though is that court officials who are entirely ignorant about the subject matter that they’re ruling on are allowed to make official rulings. When this judge issued their spiel about cybernauts using BitTorrent protocols to obtain schematics from the dark and remote recesses of the Internet, it had the force of law. If Defense Distributed violated this ruling, armed thugs with badges could be sent out to kidnap Cody Wilson or even kill him if he resisted their kidnapping attempt because an idiot in a magic muumuu has the power to make whatever they say an enforceable law. If that isn’t a great case against statism, I don’t know what is.
A federal judge may have told Defense Distributed that it couldn’t provide its already widely available 3D printer files but the saga hasn’t ended. Since Defense Distributed can no longer provide its files for free, it will sell them on a USB drive:
AUSTIN, Texas—During what he called his first ever press conference, Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson announced Tuesday that he would continue to comply with a federal court order forbidding him from internationally publishing CAD files of firearms. Wilson said he would also begin selling copies of his 3D-printed gun files for a “suggested price” of $10 each.
The files, crucially, will be transmitted to customers “on a DD-branded flash drive” in the United States. Wilson also mentioned looking into customer email and secure download links.
Now that the files aren’t leaving the United States, the primary argument being used to censor Defense Distributed is no longer in play.
What I find just as funny as Wilson’s unwillingness to roll over like a good little slave is how he has also become the biggest thorn in the side of gun control advocates seemingly out of nowhere. For decades gun control advocates have focused all of their attention on the National Rifle Association (NRA). While the NRA has acted as the 800 pound gorilla in the room, it has also been an extremely moderate organization. The NRA never pushed anything truly radical. Then along came Cody Wilson. He advocated something truly radical, the complete abolish of the State and by extent gun control. He also showed the world the biggest weakness in the concept of gun control: that guns a mechanically simple devices that can be manufactured with relative ease. While gun control advocates are trying to censor him, he has already done is damage. The world knows that firearms can be easily manufactured. Moreover, the designs for some basic firearms that can be created with a 3D printer have been released to the Internet and are therefore impossible to censor.
A bunch of states decided to sue Cody Wilson’s company Defense Distributed after the Justice Department gave up its futile fight against the company. As part of this ongoing lawsuit a federal judge has extended the ban against Defense Distributed distributing its 3D printer designs for firearms:
A federal judge in Seattle issued an injunction today that blocks Defense Distributed from publishing its 3D-printed gun designs online. The move extends a temporary ban issued last month and the injunction will remain in place until a lawsuit brought forth by a number of state attorneys general is resolved. Washington, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Oregon, Maryland and Washington, DC signed onto the suit last month in an effort to reverse a US Department of State settlement that allowed the 3D gun designs to be published online. Eleven additional states joined the lawsuit earlier this month.
Gun control advocates, who have never been the sharpest tools in the shed, are celebrating this ruling. In their fantasy land where laws have power they view this judge’s ruling as a strike against 3D printed firearms. The problem is that this ruling, just like the previous ruling it extends, is meaningless because you can find the designs all over the Internet.
What gun control advocates and the states that are bringing this lawsuit against Defense Distributed fail to understand is that the gun control debate is over. Once guns became data that could be uploaded to the Internet the ability to control them ceased to exist. It doesn’t matter what the outcome of this lawsuit is, the files released by Defense Distributed will remain available.
I would like to take a moment to say that I really love living in a world where gun control is no longer enforceable:
Gun rights activist groups found a way around the temporary halting of 3D-printed gun blueprints by publishing another set of blueprints on a new website Tuesday, which they say is activity protected under the First Amendment.
“Through CodeIsFreeSpeech.com, we intend to encourage people to consider new and different aspects of our nation’s marketplace of ideas – even if some government officials disagree with our views or dislike our content – because information is code, code is free speech, and free speech is freedom,” reads a statement on the site, which was created by a variety of groups including the Firearms Policy Coalition and the Firearms Policy Foundation.
I couldn’t help but laugh at the phrase, “temporarily halting.” Nothing was halted by that court ruling. All of the 3D printer files were available well before that court ruling was made and continued to remain available afterwards. That should have been the first sign that gun control can no longer be enforced. But seeing websites appear that overtly defy the court order should be a wake up call for everybody that gun control is dead.
The debate about gun control is over (it has actually been over for quite some time). Every organization and individual who is fighting for gun control is fighting a battle that they have already lost.
Shortly after Cody Wilson won his day in court the gun control crowd started screeching incoherently. Failing to understand the reality of the situation, which is their modus operandi, they started demanding that judges, politicians, and anybody else involved in the government stop the distribution of files for printing firearms on 3D prints. The latest futile attempt to stop Wilson was made by several attorneys and a federal judge in Seattle:
A federal judge in Seattle has issued a temporary restraining order to stop the release of blueprints to make untraceable and undetectable 3D-printed plastic guns.
Eight Democratic attorneys general filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to block the federal government’s settlement with the company that makes the plans available online. They also sought a restraining order, arguing the 3D guns would be a safety risk.
A judge issued a restraining order? Oh no, whatever shall we do? I guess those 3D printer files are lost to the world now. Game over.
I wonder if these gun control fanatics are actually stupid enough to believe that. While a judge may issue a restraining order that prevents Defense Distributed, Wilson’s company, from offering the files they are still available via the most censorship resilient website on the Internet, The Pirate Bay. If you know anything about the history of The Pirate Bay, you know that there is no way in hell that any judged in the United States will get those files removed from that site. Even if they could do that, those files are being hosted by a number of people so anybody with the magnet link can still get the files. The genie is out of the bottle.
You find some wonderful words of wisdom on Twitter:
If we don’t scream and yell, any person will be able to start printing 3D guns this Wednesday, August 1st.
As opposed to what we can print now, which are apparently only 2D guns!
Jeff sessions can stop this.
Oh, my sweet summer child.
Everytown for Gun Safety is not happy about Cody Wilson’s recent court victory and have started a campaign asking its members to write Secretary Pompeo to encourage him to “stop the release of downloadable files that will allow people, including convicted felons and terrorists, to make untraceable guns on their 3D printers.”
Image courtesy of the Anarchopirateball Facebook page.
It’s fun watching a gun control organization screech ineffectively. There is literally no way that any government official can stop the release of something that has already been released. Cody Wilson didn’t sit on the files he used to print the original Liberator, he released them to the Internet and a lot of people, myself included, downloaded a copy. Even if Pompeo could issue a decree to make downloading and sharing the files illegal, it wouldn’t stop the file’s proliferation. As we’ve seen with other illegal content, namely pirated music and movies, laws have no power to stop illegal downloading. The battle against the spread of 3D printer files for firearms is a battle that cannot be won.
When Cody Wilson demonstrated the futility of gun control once and for all but publishing specifications for a 3D printable handgun, the United States government was displeased. It didn’t like the idea that the language of the Second Amendment, namely the part that says “shall not be infringed,” might actually be enforceable by its subjects. In response to Wilson’s antics, the federal government tried to censor him. Wilson decided to sue on the argument that censoring 3D printer specifications was an infringement of his First Amendment rights. The Department of Justice (DoJ), the body of the government that tried to censor Wilson and got sued for its shenanigans, finally gave up:
Two months ago, the Department of Justice quietly offered Wilson a settlement to end a lawsuit he and a group of co-plaintiffs have pursued since 2015 against the United States government. Wilson and his team of lawyers focused their legal argument on a free speech claim: They pointed out that by forbidding Wilson from posting his 3-D-printable data, the State Department was not only violating his right to bear arms but his right to freely share information. By blurring the line between a gun and a digital file, Wilson had also successfully blurred the lines between the Second Amendment and the First.
“If code is speech, the constitutional contradictions are evident,” Wilson explained to WIRED when he first launched the lawsuit in 2015. “So what if this code is a gun?”
The Department of Justice’s surprising settlement, confirmed in court documents earlier this month, essentially surrenders to that argument. It promises to change the export control rules surrounding any firearm below .50 caliber—with a few exceptions like fully automatic weapons and rare gun designs that use caseless ammunition—and move their regulation to the Commerce Department, which won’t try to police technical data about the guns posted on the public internet. In the meantime, it gives Wilson a unique license to publish data about those weapons anywhere he chooses.
Realistically, the DoJ had no choice by to relent. As soon as it tried to censor Wilson’s 3D printer designs, the Streisand effect kicked and ensured that the files were obtained by so many people that censorship became impossible. Beyond Wilson’s case, the DoJ was also fighting a losing battle because even if it managed to censor his designs, anybody with an Internet connection could upload their own designs. The DoJ is one agency that only has authority here in the United States. The Internet is a global communication network. The odds of a single agency winning against a global network are pretty much zilch.
I’m fond of pointing out to prohibitionists that the era of enforceable prohibitions is over:
In the very near future, governments will lose the ability to keep guns, drones, and other forbidden goods out of the hands of their subjects. They’ll also be rendered impotent to enforce trade and technology embargoes. Power is shifting from the state to individuals and small groups courtesy of additive manufacturing—aka 3D printing—technology.
Additive manufacturing is poised to revolutionize whole industries—destroying some jobs while creating new opportunities. That’s according to a recent report from the prestigious RAND Corporation, and there’s plenty of evidence to support the dynamic and “disruptive” view of the future that the report promises.
Throughout history power has ebbed and flowed. At times centralized authorities are able to wield their significant power to oppress the masses. At other times events weaken those centralized authorities and the average person once again finds themselves holding a great deal of power.
Technological advancements are quickly weakening the power of the centralized nation-states. Encryption technology is making their surveillance apparatus less effective. Cryptocurrencies are making it difficult for nation-states to monitor and block transactions. Manufacturing technology is allowing individuals to make increasingly complex objects from the comfort of their own homes. The Internet has made freely trading information so easy that censorship is quickly becoming impossible.
We live in exciting times.
Politicians have been quick to descend on the corpse in Florida to push their gun control agenda. A flurry of gun control bills have been introduced throughout the United States. Many of these bills are a hodgepodge of restrictions that gun control advocates have been drooling over but have lacked the body count necessary to make a strong emotional appeal. One of these restrictions is a ban on bump fire stocks. Why would a ban on bump fire stocks be introduced after a shooting that didn’t involve a bump fire stock? Because there is a tragedy to exploit and everything on the wish list is introduced.
But a ban on bump fire stocks is meaningless at this point because anybody with a 3D printer can fabricate one:
My Google search of “3D printed bump fire stock” revealed exactly what I expected: a YouTube video of the test firing of a 3D printed bump-fire stock, which was posted by SilkyDionysus4 in April of this year. On October 10, 2017, gun rights advocate, The Jack News, published an article called “Here’s How to 3D Print Your Own Bump Stock Before Congress Bans Them. The article links to a collection of FOSSCAD digital blueprints for a variety of AR-15 parts, including a bump-fire stock.
We live in an age where firearm prohibitions are pointless. Although manufacturing firearms and firearm accessories has always been doable by anybody with a modest shop and a decent amount of knowledge, technology has advanced to the point where even individuals without a shop or a decent amount of knowledge can manufacturer firearms and firearm accessories. 3D printers can print up any number of firearm accessories. Products like the Ghost Gunner allow individuals to finish 80% receivers without any metal working skills.
And it’s not just firearms, prohibiting anything has become pointless. The same technology that enables individuals to easily manufacture firearms and firearm accessories also allows them to manufacturer almost anything else. I’ll reiterate once again that laws are irrelevant and the only thing keeping individuals safe the choice of other individuals to not to bring harm against them.