Shortly after the latest attempt at gun control in Washington went down in flames, Defense Distributed announced that they had completed a project to produce an open source 3D printable handgun. Effectively nullifying many of the meager gun control laws that have been passed. Anyone with a 3D printer and the internet can now make their own handgun.
Last August, Wilson, a law student at the University of Texas and a radical libertarian and anarchist, announced the creation of an Austin-based non-profit group called Defense Distributed, with the intention of creating a firearm anyone could fabricate using only a 3D printer. The digital blueprints for that so-called Wiki Weapon, as Wilson imagined it, could be uploaded to the Web and downloaded by anyone, anywhere in the world, hamstringing attempts at gun control and blurring the line between firearm regulation and information censorship.
Is this the end of gun regulation? Not so fast. Senator Chuck Schumer and Congressman Steve Israel are now advocating for regulating 3D printing.
New York Sen. Charles Schumer is one of several politicians pushing for stricter legislation that would ban firearms created with 3-D printers.
“Passing this law would not only prevent people from making these parts, it would raise awareness on the issue,” Schumer said Sunday during a news conference. “We’re facing a situation where anyone — a felon, a terrorist — can open a gun factory in their garage.”
Schumer is joined by U.S. congressman Steve Israel of New York, who has introduced legislation to renew a ban on plastic guns that is set to expire later this year.
“I don’t want to make it easier for criminals and terrorists to bring plastic guns through metal detectors and onto airplanes,” he told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Monday.
But despite the interest from Congress in regulating this new phenomenon the effort will likely prove fruitless. Defense Distributed was already to some degree blacklisted by the 3D printing industry having their rented printers seized. They were also tossed from established crowdfunding sites like Indeigogo. So they moved to an uber small space and continued through bitcoin donations – which now account for 99% of their assets. In other words, they didn’t and don’t need the system to survive.
With 3D printing and open source hardware we are entering a more decentralized system of production. The means of production are becoming democratized and people power is always scary along with liberating – especially for elites. Nonetheless decentralized technology is here to stay and will continue to thrive. This is a bell that will not be unrung.