The Future of Gun Ownership
Field & Stream’s Gun Nuts blog has been covering (here and here) the recent story of Defense Distributed, a group seeking to create the first 3-D printable gun. Defense Distributed has coined this project the ‘WikiWeapon” and it is outlined in the video embedded in this post. Simply put, the goal is to create a 3-D printable gun which would safely fire one round of .22LR ammunition. The designs for this gun would then be spread through free file sharing around the world.
Defense Distributed has libertarian goals in mind with this project. They believe their work is helping to break down one of the last frontiers of tyranny i.e. the control of manufacturing. A recent twist in the story was the revocation of their lease of a 3-D printer from it’s manufacturer.
In a letter to (Defense Distributed Founder Cody) Wilson dated Sept. 26, the legal counsel for Stratasys Inc. informed Wilson that it was cancelling his lease of the company’s uPrint SE printer. “It is the policy of Stratasys not to knowingly allow its printers to be used for illegal purposes,” the company wrote, noting that Wilson lacked a federal license for manufacturing firearms.
Wilson has maintained that he doesn’t need a license, because he’s not planning to sell the weapon. But Stratasys was not impressed. Wired’s Danger Room blog reports that the company’s representatives showed up at his door to seize the device. Now he’ll have to find another printer—and according to Danger Room, he’s considering obtaining a manufacturing license even though he doesn’t believe it’s legally required. Meanwhile, his group has posted Stratasys’ letter online with the caption, “Imagine if your biggest part in the human drama was to stand in the way of an innovation.”
As a believer that the public ownership of guns is indeed a check against government tyranny, my inclination is to support a project like this. The WikiWeapon has been compared to the Liberator Guns of WWII, designed to be air-dropped to insurgent forces and used to kill occupying soldiers and acquire their weapons.With Liberator pistols the goal was to create morale problems for troops in occupied countries who would know that thousands of these could be in the hand of the population. This was a real concern in WWII but of course the problem in the most unstable parts of the world today is too many guns.
Beyond guns, it’s interesting to speculate how much power the public would have if this type of manufacturing could become more diverse. The first item that comes to my mind is medicine. Imagine how the world would change if access to medicine was as cheap as buying certain chemicals in bulk and having a friend safely whip up your meds in his basement? Technology is an amazing thing.