In the latest twist of the long-running 3D Printed gun debate, Stratasys revoked the lease on a printer that a company called “Defence Distributed” got. Defense Distributed is run by Cody Wilson, a student at the “University of Texas School of Law in Austin. He is a student of Bastiat, Locke, Hoppe, and Anthony de Jasay, and in all things works toward realizing a private law society.” The aim of the project is to 1) Create the World’s first 100% 3D Printable Gun 2) Adapt the Design down to Cheaper 3D Printers 3) Become the Web’s Printable Wiki Redoubt.
As it happens, you can make your own guns. Distributed Defence raised $2,000 on Indiegogo before getting shut down earlier this year, apparently without an explicit reason. Unperturbed, they managed to raise $20,000 with Bitcoin. These funds went towards leasing a Stratasys uPrint, which was still in the box when DD received a letter (displayed below).
Here’s an excerpt from Wired’s blog.
After the letter, Wilson thought, “Damn, they’re going to take it no matter what,” he says. He added that “nothing we do violates the law.” He may be right. It’s legal in the United States to manufacture a gun at home without a license — provided it’s not for sale or trade. But this doesn’t include all weapons. Machine guns and sawed-off shotguns are illegal to manufacture without a license. There’s also a law requiring “any other weapon, other than a pistol or a revolver … capable of being concealed on the person” to be subject to review by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms an Explosives (ATF).
Wilson’s plans may have fallen under this review, which could have provoked Stratasys to pull the lease. There’s also another law, the Undetectable Firearms Act, which could mean a fully plastic pistol would be illegal regardless of how it was made. Guslick’s partly plastic AR-15 seemed to have circumvented this law by only building one component of a mostly metal rifle with 3-D printed parts.
From what we’ve gathered, Stratasys took the machine and DD is looking for another one.
The side that Distributed Defence takes is a simple one. Offense is the best defense–the enumerated right to keep and bear arms is a right held by the individual. However, my opinion is that if weapons were easily created and attained via 3D Printing, we’d be endangering others. It has been very easy to CNC and assemble a gun for a long time. You can do it for yourself under the law. That doesn’t persuade me from saying that what DD is doing is right though. It’s my view that you have a right to be defended well against the scum of the earth, rather than to defend yourself. I would rather have cooler hands with guns than crazed – I would rather willingly surrender my freedom to manufacture weapons so that a few more can live longer lives. Where do you stand? Should it be easier? What about safer? It’s a tough line to walk and 3D printing is definitely raising the questions.