January 17, 2013 (LocalOrg-Tony Cartalucci) – Forbes has recently published an article
about New York Congressman Steve Israel’s promise to ban 3D printed
high capacity ammunition magazines. The congressman’s comments come
after Defense Distributed, an open
source DIY gunsmith group working to manufacture both guns and their
accessories using 3D printing technology, successfully printed and
tested a 30-round AR-15 magazine.
Congressman Israel stated:
“Background checks and gun regulations will do little good if criminals
can print high-capacity magazines at home. 3-D printing is a new
technology that shows great promise, but also
requires new guidelines. Law enforcement officials should have the power
to stop high-capacity magazines from proliferating with a Google
It seems that Congressman Israel doesn’t realize that background checks
and gun regulations both in the United States and just over America’s
border with Mexico, already don’t work – without advanced manufacturing
and open source paradigms even playing a role. Criminals intent on
breaking laws have existed since laws themselves. Additionally,
technology like 3D printing, as Forbes correctly points out, will pose a
serious challenge to gun control advocates in terms of enforcement.
Forbes stated specifically:
“But for either [Congresswoman Diane]
Feinstein or Israel’s bill, the same problem arises: How to enforce that
prohibition in every garage and workshop in America that houses a 3D
Of course, without becoming Nazi Germany or Stalin’s Soviet Union, or
something far worse, there is no way to enforce these gun regulations.
Criminals in particular will continue trumping the law, and because of
the government’s refusal to actually tackle the socioeconomic factors driving violence
and its insistence on instead punishing law abiding citizens, their
authority, legitimacy, and ability to enforce even sensible legislation
will be compromised.
And 3D manufacturing isn’t the only way to build your own gun. As a
matter of fact, around the world where criminals are unable to buy guns,
they do indeed already make their own – and then, as criminals are
wanton to do, commit crimes with them, including, murder.
Image: This homemade handgun was made by an unruly Thai
party-goer who claimed the life of a British tourist this New Year’s
Eve. Despite the ubiquitous nature of guns, both homemade and
manufactured in Thailand, and nearly no means of enforcing whatever
legislation may or may not be on the books, gun violence (and violence
overall) is still less than in the United States.
In Thailand, vocational schools are plagued by fierce gang-style
rivalries. With standard tools, these students construct homemade guns
which they frequently murder each other with. And just this New Year’s
Eve, a British tourist was killed when a fight broke out at a party, and a homemade gun was fired.
The difference between a Thai vocational education, and say a German or
Japanese vocational education is one of culture and socioeconomics –
not access to tools.
Preventing people from manufacturing guns, or worse yet, from possessing
or using tools that can be used to create guns, is both ludicrous and
impossible. Like with cars or anything else, laws are there to ensure we
don’t harm others by abusing any given right or implement – not
preventing us from having those rights or implements responsibly in the
first place. In the end, one must address the factors
in any given society that drive large numbers of people to commit
violent crimes in the first place – regardless of their chosen means or
In reality, an honest public representative would already be far too
busy improving education, infrastructure, and the economic prospects of
their people to waste time on banning every conceivable implement that
could be used in a crime, directly or indirectly. The goal of Congress
members like Feinstein or Israel, is not to prevent violence – but to
simply disarm the population as the corporate-financier interests they represent seek to be further unhindered as they loot people and nations both abroad and at home.
The fact that the White House is taking such bold actions against
“guns,” citing “mass shootings” which account for a fraction of 1% of
all homicides, indicates a far more insidious agenda – and one based not
on real priorities, but built upon a carefully exploited, emotional
campaign to exact an obvious but not forthcoming final goal.
Defense Distributed has a website – DefCAD.org
– and the files for building their various designs available for
downloading and use – for free. The files are in .IGS format and require
a computer aided design program (CAD) to view them. FreeCAD is an open source, free to download program that works well. This is where, again, a local hackerspace
pooling people’s resources together would help infinitely, especially
when most hackerspaces come equipped with 3D printers and people capable
of operating them and more importantly, capable of teaching you how to
Image: Defense Distributed’s 30 round magazine opened in FreeCAD.
Right now, there seems to be only Defense Distributed pursuing this
project in any meaningful manner – which should be a cause of concern
for anyone who thinks this is a good idea. One group of people working
on this alone is a giant, slow-moving target prone to failure from both
within and beyond. Many people working on this in parallel, however,
presents the same problem the movie and music industry face with file
sharing – impossible victory/inevitable defeat.
Starting your own open source “distributed defense” group would be a
good way to hedge the risk of having just one group coordinating efforts
toward developing open source firearms accessible to all. DefCAD could
be infiltrated, co-opted, or derailed in so many conceivable ways
considering the implications the work it is doing have, it would be
foolish not to hedge such risk.
The lack of direct participation in preserving our rights, and instead
depending on lobbyists and protesters alone to to do it for us is one
problem. Another problem is the purposeful polarization of the “gun
debate” – of gun advocates and their critics along predictable political
lines. The Washington Post,
which is ironically run by a right-wing Neo-Con editorial board,
recently celebrated President Obama’s “clever” use of the Constitution
to turn the gun debate on its head. It also noted gleefully that part of
the plan was getting the “people” themselves to demand stricter gun
control. This will be done by getting half of America (the left) to take
the guns away from the other half (the right).
Faux right-wing leaders take particular care in ensuring that to be a
“gun rights activist,” you must also be a xenophobic crypto-racist,
Islamophobic, and a conservative who believes the problem facing the
world are closet-Communist liberals. Likewise, the faux left’s
leadership ensures that their followers believe conservatives, their
religion, and their guns are the root of all problems. In reality, the corporate-financiers run both sides of the debate and direct the talking points of prominent personalities on both the faux-left and faux-right.
Obviously, instead of digging in and playing along, our goal should be
to reach across the aisle and close this artificial divide – by
abandoning the leaders claiming to represent our particular political
proclivities and working together to address the true causes of violence
– social injustice, socioeconomic decay, and inadequate, impractical
Getting involved includes creating local institutions that find common
ground and reject this artificial polarization – common ground that
includes improving education, health care, and local economic prospects,
which in turn reduces violence and leaves only responsible people with
firearms (and the means to make them). Local efforts must be apolitical
and all-inclusive – because if we are reduced to talking politics, it is
because we don’t have a pragmatic solution to solve our problems.
DefCAD has a pragmatic solution – leveraging tangible, modern technology
to ensure our rights are not trampled upon by insidious politicians.
Taking away guns is not an option politically, and soon, not an option
practically. All sides who truly seek to reduce the violence in society
will be forced to look elsewhere for the solution. Since guns were never
the problem to begin with, the advent of 3D printed guns and the
insurmountable deterrence they present to “gun control,” may be a
blessing in disguise for all who seek a more peaceful and just world.