7 Things You Need to know About 3-D Guns
This past week has been a tornado of activity, in the media and in the courts, as politicians and the media have lost their minds over the news that the U.S. government agreed to settle a lawsuit by Cody Wilson and his company, Defense Distributed, (along with the Second Amendment Foundation). The agreement said that Wilson could publish files on the internet. HORRORS! Actual information on the web. But, the info is designs and files which allow someone to use a 3-D printer or CNC machine to make a firearm.
I've covered this on the radio, and will have all the latest this Sunday (and there is a LOT of news), but here are the key things to know.
1. It is legal to make your own gun. Without a serial number. As long as you aren't selling it or giving it away. If it's for your own use, you can make it and use it. You still must abide by all federal and state laws, and cannot be a prohibited person. That's nothing new, and it doesn't matter if you make it with a garage full of machine tools, a file, or a 3-D printer. Here's the exact wording from the ATF web site:
Does an individual need a license to make a firearm for personal use?
No, a license is not required to make a firearm solely for personal use. However, a license is required to manufacture firearms for sale or distribution. The law prohibits a person from assembling a non–sporting semiautomatic rifle or shotgun from 10 or more imported parts, as well as firearms that cannot be detected by metal detectors or x–ray machines. In addition, the making of an NFA firearm requires a tax payment and advance approval by ATF.
2. No one is going to download a gun from the internet. I know, it sounds stupid. But that's what the ignorant politicians and the media keep saying. The issue is the publishing of CAD drawings and other files. Publishing. Think "First Amendment."
3. It is illegal to make a gun that is undetectable. Has been for 30 years. So, no, Senator Schumer, 3-D files do not allow someone to legally make a gun that is undetectable to airport screeners, you fool. And, yes, the NRA agreed to not oppose this bill. WHAT? Wait a minute. Politics isn't a simple game of checkers. It's chess. The NRA got rid of a bill which would have banned a lot of guns, and got a substitute that would ban no guns in current production. This was when the media (still ignorant back then, as well) was shouting that the new Glock pistol was made of plastic and couldn't be seen by metal detectors and X-ray machines. Sometimes you win by letting the other side think they have won. Here's what Wikipedia says about it.
"Initial proposals to ban handguns with less than 8 oz of steel were opposed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), and what resulted was a compromise that banned guns with less than half the metal content of the Glock. The NRA agreed not to oppose the Act because it did not affect any existing guns."
4. A team of superstar lawyers working with Cody Wilson and the Second Amendment Foundation appeared (either in person or by phone) in more than a half-dozen court rooms as the attorneys general of a number of states sued to get a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop the publication of the files. This team argued, among other things, that this is just publishing files. It's a First Amendment case. The U.S. government is OK with it. We won in several states, but eventually a judge (in Seattle) issued the TRO, and Wilson agreed not to publish -- for a while.
5. Information can not be stopped. Even before the TRO was issued, the files had found their way to the web and had been downloaded tens of thousands of times. A new web site popped up to host the files -- www.codeisfreespeech.com. The horse is not only out of the barn, it has left the county.
6. As with all other gun control efforts, this is not about guns. It's not about safety. It's not about crime. The words of the gun ban lobby tell you what it's about. They say they won't know who has guns. They wail that they won't be able to trace those guns. They shout that they won't be able to register those guns. As always, this is about control. Not control of guns. Control of you.
7. This legal fight will continue, and it's going to cost a lot of money. The attorneys general are using our money. Wilson and the Second Amendment Foundation depend on donations. DONATE HERE.
One other point. Blocking the publication of these files is prior restraint, which normally is anathema to the Left. Blocking free speech usually would have them marching in the streets. In this case, of course, it's acceptable because it's free speech about something they don't like. One has to wonder how they would react to a campaign to block free speech on any of their pet issues. Oh. No need to wonder.
Stay informed on this fast-changing story. Follow me on Twitter, where I'm @guntalk. ~ Tom
Author, outdoorsman, gun rights activist, and firearms enthusiast for more than five decades, Tom Gresham hosts Tom Gresham's Gun Talk, the first nationally-syndicated radio show about guns and the shooting sports, and is also the producer and co-host of the Guns & Gear and First Person Defender television series.
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