Government Shuts Down 3D Plastic Gun Manufacturer

There are dangers associated with freedom. No system is perfect and society must strive to find a balance. The Bill of Rights is, essentially, a list of enumerated freedoms that are flawed in their own, unique ways.

3d printed gun

The First Amendment can allow obscene words. The Fourth Amendment can keep a heroin dealer’s stash safe simply because an officer does not have probably cause to search. The Fifth Amendment’s assurance of due process can fail and a criminal can go free. The list goes on…

In truth, I would always rather have too much freedom than not enough. I would rather have a world filled with too many books, even if some are obscene or offensive to me. I would rather have the protection of due process, even if a bullet would be a more fitting and expedient solution to dealing with a murderer. I am glad we have a protection against cruel or unusual punishment, even if what some people need is exactly that.

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To that end, I would rather have a citizen posting blueprints for a 3D gun online than a government who feels that it is their function to hinder the dispersal of such information.

Cody Wilson of Defense Distributed announced on May 6th, 2013, that he had made the first gun from a commercially-available 3D printer capable of firing. As an exercise in freedom, Wilson created the 3D gun from 16 pieces crafted by a 3D printer. Then, having exercised his Second Amendment protections, he exercised his First Amendment protections by distributing the 3D blueprint files online for free.

Almost immediately, the anti-gunners panicked like feudal lords having heard that the serfs now had a printing press.

On Sunday, Sen. Charles Schumer of New York became the most prominent lawmaker to call for: banning 3-D printed handguns. “Guns are made out of plastic, so they would not be detectable by a metal detector at any airport or sporting event,” Schumer told reporters on Sunday. “Only metal part of the gun is the little firing pin: and that is too small to be detected by metal detectors, for instance, when you go through an airport.”

The senator also proposed updating the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 – which bans guns that can defeat airport security metal detectors – to include printable gun magazines. Defense Distributed has a federal firearms manufacturers license, which Wilson sought after being questioned by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in 2012. That was shortly after a 3-D printer Wilson had rented was seized by its manufacturer over worries he’d violate the Undetectable Firearms Act. The law, which is set to expire this year, exempts licensed manufacturers to produce plastic guns for use as a models and prototypes.

Naturally, the inevitable occurred and the government demanded that he remove the downloadable diagrams.

“[Defense Distributed’s] files are being removed from public access at the request of the U.S. Department of Defense Trade Controls,” read a banner atop the website. “Until further notice, the United States government claims control of the information.”

Wilson tells that he decided to comply to a request by the Pentagon to take down the gun specs from his website while he weighs his legal options.

“They asked that I take it down while they determine if they have the authority to control the info,” he said. “It’s clearly a direct response to everything we did this week. 3D printing is clearly not the best way to make an effective weapon.”

Since the time of the printing press, man has used technology to enhance freedom. The feudal system worried that Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press would spread information to the masses and free them from ignorance. The U.S. government is afraid that the masses would use technology to arm themselves.

As technology progresses and this becomes a more-realistic capability, the government is going to have to come to terms with the fact that firearms are not the true culprits of violence- malice is. Whether it’s a Glock, a kitchen knife, a baseball bat or plastic pieces from a 3D printer, the tool is not what creates violence.

Greg Campbell is a contributor for The Tea Party News Network and is the lead gun rights columnist for Follow him on Twitter:

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