The concept of gun control in the United States has always been futile given that it is a violation of a fundamental Constitutional right and that it is impossible to enforce even if that fact is overlooked. Now, though, thanks to technological advancements in 3D printing and a recent decision by the U.S. Justice Department, gun control is even more impossible now than it once was.
Twenty-five year old Cody Wilson – the founder of Defense Distributed – created quite a stir when he announced that he had developed a successful design for a 3D printed gun and made the files for his design available on the internet. Within just two days, 100,000 copies of the design were downloaded from people all over the world.
Shortly thereafter, the Obama State Department issued Wilson a letter threatening criminal prosecution if he did not cease and desist. Wilson complied as best as he was able, but stopping the file from being downloaded once it had made its way onto the internet was impossible.
On July 10, though, the State Department ruled in Wilson’s favor, saying that sharing the instructions to print 3D guns was protected under Wilson’s First Amendment rights. They further ruled that Wilson could provide unlimited distribution of the instructions to the public in any form and even compensated $40,000 of his legal fees.
The case received little fanfare and media attention. However, it is a landmark case that delivers a crushing blow to the gun control crowd. If people are able to print off firearms using a metal 3D printer that costs less than $2,000, all the gun control laws in the world will never keep firearms out of people’s hands unless the 3D printers are made illegal as well.
Even if the Justice Department had not ruled in Wilson’s favor, though, the blow that 3D printed guns strikes to gun control would have still been just as devastating. If there’s one lesson we’ve learned in the digital age it’s that it is impossible to keep files from being downloaded whether they are legal or not.
Look no further than the flood of illegal movies and TV shows available for download on the internet for proof that even a multi-billion dollar industry such as Hollywood cannot keep files from being downloaded, legal or not.
The case that 3D printed guns makes gun control impossible becomes all the more evident when you consider where the majority of Wilson’s downloads came from. When Wilson first made the design available online, Spain and Germany – both countries with strict gun control laws – were the countries with the most downloads of the file, with the United States coming in third.
These figures paint a very clear picture: citizens in countries where firearms cannot be easily purchased at a gun shop down the street are already using Wilson’s design and 3D printed guns to circumvent their country’s gun control laws and attain a functional firearm.
Of course, even with innovative designs such as the one Cody Wilson created, 3D printed guns are still quite a ways behind their traditionally-manufactured counterparts in terms of reliability and quality. This very likely won’t always be the case, though, given that just a couple decades ago the idea of printing out any 3D object – much less a functional firearm – was the stuff of science fiction.
Innovations in materials, 3D printers, and designs will likely allow for high-quality handguns, rifles, and more to be printed out in the not so distant future, at which point any form of gun control will become a pipe dream unless drastic legislative measures are taken.
Already, bans on high-capacity magazines are entirely futile since these can easily be printed out using a cheap 3D printer that handles only plastic. Someday, even bans on fully-automatic weapons that are already in place may become impossible to enforce thanks to 3D printing technology.
Given the ever-increasing ease in which firearms can be acquired, the time has come for the gun control crowd to admit that they’ve lost the war and start focusing on how we can make our country safer in ways that don’t involve disarming law abiding citizens.
Short of dismantling the First Amendment which makes sharing 3D printed gun designs a Constitutional right, dismantling the Second Amendment which makes owning guns in the first place a Constitutional right, and somehow figuring out how to prevent people from downloading files off the internet, it’s the only option they have left.
~ American Gun News