May 092013

Well, the US FedGuv has finally waded into the debate on 3D printed guns. Wielding the sort of bludgeon that authoritarians like Bloomberg and Schumer can only dream of, the US Department of Defense Trade Controls has shut down Defense Distributed via the dubious power of ITAR. ITAR – International Traffic in Arms Regulations – is supposed to prevent US citizens and corporations from sending overseas technologies and designs for advanced weapons and the like that might aid enemies of the US. But as it’s being used here, it is being used to prevent the likes of Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Whatever from being able to build unreliable, expensive zip guns.

Much as it pains me to link to Infowars, they seem to have the details.

BREAKING: 3D printable gun ordered to shut down by government


Here’s one of many things to consider: if the exact same files had been created by, say, a Canadian, and were hosted on a Canadian website, the US FedGuv would have neither the power nor the interest to shut them down. Why would they? Printed guns are, and will be for some time, substantially crappy devices compared to properly manufactured firearms. However, as printing technology evolves, and as design capabilities and experience progress, printed guns will become substantially better, potentially eventually becoming competitive or even superior in some ways. So what the government is doing, in effect, is turning over the future of not only weapons development but advanced manufacturing systems and basic entrepreneurship itself to foreign powers.

 Posted by at 3:12 pm
  • allen

    the genie is already out of the bottle….

  • Bob

    Google something like “the gunsmiths of Darra” and see what comes up. Darra is a city in Afghanistan where the people can build you any kind of weapon you want by hand. Federal attempts to ban firearms will be even more futile than the restrictions on drugs. I expect plans for fully automatic home made firearms to be circulating before too long.

  • Anonymous

    If it’s export control that is the problem, that means the files can be shared between US citizens with impunity right?

    • Anonymous

      That’s the theory, yes.

      • Peter Hanely

        The practice is difficulty is sharing something like this inside the US while keeping it from crossing the border.

        But it’s a bit silly stopping the export of a design that falls so short of what is already commonly available around the world. I think they’re going for a precedent while they can.

  • LordJim

    Too late now. They should have clamped down on 3D printing when they had the chance.

    • Anonymous

      No, “they” shouldn’t have. What “they” should have done was, if anything, provide R&D capital to improve the technology, along with running annual competitions for the design and printing of various functional devices… guns included. Offer, say, $2,000,000 prize annually for the best pistol design, with constantly improving goals for performance and reliability. Caveat would be that the top designs would have to be printed by the central committee, and the top designs would be published online for the rest of the world to examine and improve upon.

      But that would require a *civilized* government, not a pack of power-mad authoritarian jackholes.