Second Amendment

3D-Printed Hype

Why the sudden uproar from Second Amendment opponents over 3D-printed guns?

Brian Mark Weber · Aug. 3, 2018

Just this week, the U.S. State Department settled a lawsuit filed under the Obama administration that would have forbid the company Defense Distributed from posting blueprints on its website that could be downloaded by anyone wanting to build a 3D gun at home. The settlement allowed the company to begin posting the information as of Aug. 1. But after pleas by attorneys general from seven states and the District of Columbia, a federal judge in Seattle stepped in and put a temporary halt to the agreement due to supposed concerns about the threat to public safety posed by 3D guns.

Even President Donald Trump, a reliable supporter of gun rights, expressed doubt about the safety of 3D guns. The day before the State Department agreement was to go into effect, the president tweeted, “I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!”

Is the outcry over 3D guns overblown? After all, as National Review’s David French correctly asserts, “People have been making homemade guns since before the founding of the Republic. You don’t need a license to make a gun for personal use; you need one only if you make a gun for sale or distribution. Guns can be made at home easily and cheaply. Home manufacture is common.”

And the fact that the Undetectable Firearms Act was passed into law in 1988, long before 3D printers were invented, highlights the fact that there’s nothing new going on here.

So why the sudden uproar from Second Amendment opponents?

One of the reasons might be that the anti-gun crowd is getting desperate. Unable to chip away any further at Second Amendment rights, and with the future of gun control looking bleaker due to the potential of an expanding conservative bloc on the Supreme Court, gun grabbers are taking a final stand. They’re even going to the extreme of claiming that the Tenth Amendment grants states the right to regulate firearms — even while attacking the First Amendment just to get to the Second.

Of course, no one ever accused leftists of being faithful to the Constitution.

Columnist David Harsanyi asks an important question: “How can the state ban the transfer of knowledge used to help someone engage in an activity that is completely legal? Scratch that — to engage in an activity that is constitutionally protected?”

The proverbial cat is out of the bag, and no court ruling is going to stop 3D gun information from spreading online. In fact, it already has. When the government ordered Wilson to take his designs down from the Internet in 2013, it soon discovered that the information had popped up on so many other sites that it was too late to stop it.

Much to the chagrin of gun-control proponents, it’s happening again.

The Washington Times reports, “A judge’s attempt to halt the spread of blueprints for 3D-printed guns backfired Wednesday as the plans spread across the internet, posted and shared by people who said they were determined to strike a blow for free speech, to protect gun rights, or just to thumb their nose at the government.”

In other words, those who tried to stop the spread of 3D gun information this week may have done more to spark interest in the technology than existed before. Now it’s all about spreading misinformation, such as the argument that 3D weapons will easily elude metal detectors.

Gun opponents conveniently leave out the fact that the possession of totally undetectable firearms remains a violation of federal law, but even 3D guns will have a hard time making it past security.

The Liberator — the gun designed by Defense Distributed, contains a metal part specifically designed to be picked up by metal detectors. For those concerned about people making guns without the piece of metal, Popular Mechanics recently discovered that a magazine containing multiple cartridges would still set off most metal detectors.

Surprisingly, even April Glaser of the leftist rag Slate agrees. She reminds us, “Despite what lawmakers were saying this week, it’s not clear that 3D-printed guns pose a serious threat. Plans for printing 3D weaponry never disappeared from the internet as a result of Wilson’s legal challenges, and it seems that 3D-printed guns don’t even work very well — when they do work.”

Let’s not forget that in a country where just about anyone can own affordable and more traditional guns, there isn’t likely to be an explosion of plastic guns.

Despite the fact that the State Department has admitted it has no jurisdiction over controlling domestic gun policies, the fight to ban accessibility to 3D gun schematics is just beginning. But in the end, there’s no stopping the technology unless the government intends to take away our right to free speech on the Internet along with our right to keep and bear arms.

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