It’s time to Break It Down!
I have written on numerous occasions about the improvidence associated with the positions of the NRA and the gun lobby regarding the ease of access in acquiring firearms. After virtually every time there is a mass shooting, a vicious cycle ensues. First there is a great hue and cry against the shooter, usually followed by an assertion that the individual(s) was troubled, and or suffered from mental illness, which is then buttressed by a fervent pushback courtesy of the NRA, and gun & second amendment enthusiasts.
There is a certain rinse and repeat nature to it all. Well, don’t look now, but certain interests have endeavored to elevate the vicious cycle to hyper drive. Beginning today, thanks to the Trump Administration striking a court deal, individual citizens were on track to start producing Do-It-Yourself (DIY) 3D-printed guns. That’s right, effective August 1st, a commercially available software blueprint could enable people to make their own guns using ABS plastic resin and a 3D printer. The process was green-lighted via a court settlement between the blueprint designer and the U.S. State department. Not surprisingly, gun rights advocates celebrated the decision.
Alan Gottlieb, Second Amendment Foundation Founder and Executive Vice-President, said:
“Not only is this a first amendment victory for free speech, it also is an end to the gun prohibition lobby.”
Defense Distributed, the company backing the blueprint crowed:
“The age of the downloaded gun lobby formally begins.”
Conversely, gun control advocates were alarmed. Nick Suplina, managing director of law and policy at Everytown for Gun Safety stated:
“The settlement was incredibly dangerous.” He further implored the State Department to continue to block the publication of deadly information. This settlement would enable convicted felons and domestic abusers to download schematics online and print their own illegal and untraceable guns.”
The lawsuit was the result of a software file developed by a University of Texas law student, Cody Wilson. The blueprint was that of a single-shot 3D printed handgun, code named “The Liberator.” The State department initially ordered Wilson to cease and desist his work, arguing that making the blueprint available would be a violation of arms export statutes.
Wilson, a libertarian at heart, quickly evolved from seeing himself as a hobbyist to adopting the mind set of a full-fledged crusader. As he described it:
“All I tried to do in law school was print a pistol and put it on the Internet (he told the Guardian in 2016). Now I’m on a ride I can’t get off.”
Wilson sued on the grounds that his design was protected by the first amendment. He founded a non-profit, Defense Distributed. To celebrate the settlement, he tweeted an image of flowers laid at a plaque in memory of “American gun control.”
Just when it looked as though insanity might reign, a court stepped in and blocked this irresponsible action. But before I get to the good news, there are a few points about the DIY gun that I’d like to share.
• Wilson principally funded his legal battle with proceeds from the sale of products which allow for DIY production of metal framed “ghost guns,” which do not have serial numbers and are not subject to traditional gun control laws.
• Defense Distributed sells users an “80% lower” – a piece of metal the government deems is only 80% of a gun – and a milling machine that can, with a PC and the right software, bring the gun into completion.
• The company describes the milling on its website as a way to “legally manufacture unserialized rifles and pistols in the comfort and privacy of home.
• With The Liberator and other 3D printed guns, including AR-15 style rifles, users will not need a prefabricated “80% lower.” They will be able instead to construct virtually an entire gun with any 3D printer and enough ABS plastic resin.
• The gun does require a metal firing pin to operate. An additional piece of metal is included in the blueprint, to ensure compliance with the 1988 Undetectable Firearms Act.
The Obama Administration, out of an abundance of concern about making it easier to produce plastic guns, had used export laws to ban the foreign distribution of firearms to prevent publication of the blueprints. However, in true Trump fashion, the current administration’s State Department, in its reflexive drive to undo all things Obama, cleared the way for Wilson to usher in what his website calls “the age of the downloadable gun.”
That age was scheduled to begin today, when he would start uploading instructions. Enter a Seattle federal judge, who yesterday granted a temporary nationwide injunction blocking Mr. Wilson from executing his plan. Judge Robert S. Lasnik, a United States District Court Judge, faced with dire warnings about an imminent risk to public safety from alarmed public officials across the country, acted to block Wilson.
Attorneys general from eight states and the District of Columbia filed a joint lawsuit to stop the ghost guns. After hearing arguments from both sides, Judge Lasnik said the lawyers bringing the suit had established “a likelihood of irreparable harm” and of success on the merits. He set a follow-up hearing for August 10 in his Seattle courtroom.
Clearly, this is not the end of the conversation. DIY ghost guns may still make their way onto the scene in just a matter of days. In addition to the injunction, there was an unexpected opinion on the matter that could be a factor in the ultimate decision. Donald Trump tweeted yesterday morning saying he’s looking into the matter, he’s spoken to the NRA, and that it doesn’t seem to make much sense. It will be interesting to see if that is his final world, and if so, how the NRA, the gun lobby, and the Trumpire will respond to this very un-Trump-like position.
Donald J. Trump
“I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!” 8:03 AM – Jul 31, 2018 44.4K 28K people are talking about this”
Remember that vicious cycle? The one where the NRA, the gun lobby, and the ardent second amendment defenders harp on and insist that the real problem is we have not prevented people with mental illnesses from securing weapons…yeah, that one. Well what will they say when someone downloads an AR-15 and goes and kills children at a school, or shoppers at a mall, or anybody anywhere? At what point should they have been stopped? Before the download? While reading the instructions? At the computer store? Of course, keep in mind, that anyone with access to a computer and a suitable printer will be able to obtain a gun. I would say, let that sink in, but I’m pretty sure, all the folks who favor this have already done so, and still think it’s a good idea. You should all find that a scary proposition. “Ghost Guns: Next Level Weaponry!”
P.S. While the final decision regarding these weapons is being deliberated, it’s worth noting that based on the original suit, some guns started being downloaded last Friday. At least 2,500 have been received, in addition a pending backlog…just so you know. Wilson has said hi goal is to ensure that every gun in production is available in a downloadable format.
I’m done; holla back!
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