Wishful Thinking Is Control Freaks' Last Defense Against 3D-Printed Guns

Farhad ManjooSlateAfter Defense Distributed published video of a successul test of a 3D-printed handgun, the responses came fast and furious: politicians, including Rep. Steve Israel and Sen. Chuck Schumer proposed legislation that would ban the sort of plastic gun made by Defense Distributed, but would be utterly impotent to prevent people from ignoring the law and carrying on as home armorers. Now comes Slate's Farhad Manjoo to play the role of Kevin Bacon in Animal House, bellowing, "remain calm, all is well!" Gun control still is relevant, he insists, because new laws and technological fixes can head off a rush of DIY weapons.

For starters, Manjoo assures us that the "Liberator" pistol created by Defense Distributed's Cody Wilson is no big deal:

Don’t fall into Wilson’s trap. Though it’s a clever stunt, the printable gun does nothing to weaken the case for gun control—and, in the long run, it might well strengthen it. That’s because, for the foreseeable future, the printed gun can’t compete with manufactured weapons. It’s more expensive, less durable, and a worse shot than any gun you can buy from a store.

Well ... That's true. The very first proof of concept gun created on a 3D printer can't compete with commercial products. But technology and technique alike are evolving fast, and it's obvious that home manufacturing of anything and everything is on the verge of an enormous revolution. Nobody thought we'd be at this point so quickly. What will be possible with the designs and machines of a year or five years from now?

Manjoo next appeals to the Hollywood war against file-sharing as a model for controlling the online distribution of information:

When music went digital, sales of physical media plummeted and piracy became rampant, draining the profits of the major record companies. With his 3-D gun plans—which he’s making available online for free—Wilson could bring about the same forces in the gun industry. If you can make your gun at home for just the price of plastic, why would you ever buy a real weapon? And if the 3-D gun starts to look like a real alternative, why would the weapons industry support this disruptive new enterprise? Wouldn’t gun manufacturers instead fight the rise of printable guns—perhaps by advocating the same tough laws that Hollywood has successfully pushed against file-sharers?

Never mind that the war against file-sharing has gone so well that file-sharing continues to boom, and has bred new technologies to accommodate the practice. The war against file-sharing is rooted in alleged intellectual property violations. Defense Distributed's plans for the Liberator are their unique creation and their intellectual property — they're free to distribute those plans as they wish.

Manjoo then appeals to the "3-D gun movement’s fundamental error—their belief that information can’t be controlled." That's right, he sees salvation through the power of censorship:

[I]f the authorities set their mind to it, they can bankrupt you for sharing songs online. Countries where guns are already strictly curbed could impose similarly harsh measures against the distribution of plans for 3-D guns—and if they enforce them strictly, they might well limit their availability.

Frankly, I have a hard time believing that U.S. courts that found the sharing of source code for once strictly regulated encryption software to be protected  by the First Amendment won't see similar free speech concerns in the sharing of firearms designs on the Internet. And the Internet is a world-wide network; you need only one jurisdiction friendly to free speech to defeat censorship efforts elsewhere. Internet censorhip has never been successful, and it seems a faint hope for controlling the distribution of 3D printer designs.

Manjoo then suggests curbs on 3D printers:

[I]t’s conceivable that lawmakers would impose severe restrictions on the 3-D printer industry, which, of course, isn’t protected by the Second Amendment. Lawmakers could require 3-D printer manufacturers to prevent their machines from printing certain files—in the same way your DVD player can’t play movies from a different region—and impose harsh penalties for circumventing those rules. They could even make you register your printer the way you’ve got to register your car.

Is there anybody left who doesn't know how easy it is to bypass those region restrictions on a DVD player or computer? Even if some variant of "region restriction" software were built into 3D printers — say, the sort comparable to the type that's supposed to prevent photocopiers and printers from knocking off currency — it would have an even tougher job of recognizing ever-morphing 3D designs than printers do of recognizing relatively static images of $20 bills. And that restrictive software has been so (un)successful that 60 percent of counterfeit bills recovered in recent years were created on ink-jet printers.

And how do you regulate the use of a registered 3D printer once it's installed in a home workshop? And even if registration somehow mattered, what do you do about RepRap-style printers made by other printers?

Farhad Manjoo is Slate's technology columnist, by the way. Slate might want to tighten their hiring practices.

A better take on the 3D printer story and the limits of legislative responses comes from Mother Jones, where Tim Murphy writes:

But there's a problem with Schumer's pitch: The legislation in question would not stop the guns from being made. Israel's bill is mostly a reauthorization of the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988, which was originally written to combat the anticipated onslaught of fully-plastic Glocks. (It was an onslaught, Bloomberg Businessweek's Paul Barrett explained, that never really materialized.) It's not especially controversial, and part of the reason is that it doesn't take many significant steps to stop 3D-printed weapons from being printed.

Both Manjoo and Murphy note that so many guns are already in circulation that 3D printed guns aren't necessary. But Murphy seems to get that something new is in the works, here — a development that really is very likely beyond government control, even if it's not a practical concern in the short run.

And on that note, don't miss my column on how technology is empowering individuals to defy and ignore the ever-grasping control freaks who seek to rule over us.

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  • ||

    Oh my, the terror of the BAN BONER crowd at the 3D printing is palpable. This is going to be good. Oh yes, your terror tears are so yummy and sweet.

  • fish||

    Oh my, the terror of the BAN BONER crowd at the 3D printing is palpable.

    I don't think the goal of Defense Distributed was ever to mass produce printed handguns...I think their real goal was to give Charles Schumer a fatal heart attack.

    I approve of their actions.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    It’s more expensive, less durable, and a worse shot than any gun you can buy from a store.
    ...
    If you can make your gun at home for just the price of plastic, why would you ever buy a real weapon?

    Point one seems to contradict point two.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Contradiction and fact never got in their way before, why should it now?

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    If it's not a "real weapon" why is he so wound up?

  • Brandon||

    It's Slate. They're doing the usual "throw shit against the wall and see what sticks" crap.

  • Too_Big_to_Fail||

    There's no place for context inside an illogical argument.

  • Aresen||

    Agree there is a contradiction, but only if one assumes a) that the 3D printer was purchased for the sole purpose of producing the gun and b)the marginal utility of the improved quality and durability is worth the expense in the case where it is only one of many uses of the printer.

  • CE||

    It's not much use until you can print the bullets.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    It’s more expensive, less durable, and a worse shot than any gun you can buy from a store.

    Last I heard, they didn't foresee this for years, but they did it in a few months. DD could conceivably have an accurate product in a year. And considering the whole idea behind this is to defeat bans, price is effectively meaningless.

  • deified||

    Tell me, anyone, who's face is more punchable than Farhad Manjoo's?

  • Irish||

    Piers Morgan. Matthew Yglesias. Ezra Klein. Bill O' Reilly. Glen Beck. I could keep going. Drudge also has a pretty punchable face, especially when he's wearing that stupid hat, but he's so great at trolling progressives that I'll give him a pass.

  • Marc F Cheney||

    EJ Dionne wins the prize.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    He's punchable for his columns alone. My first memory of his stupidity was an incredibly contorted pile of accounting tricks to prove that Apple computers were actually cheaper than Windows boxen, back in the day when Apple stuff was 2-3 times more expensive. Tesla's recent grab bag of accounting tricks to prove the Tesla S only cost $500 a month reminded me of it so much I had to double check the author.

    Doesn't surprise me in the least that he's a gun-control freak. He's drunk too much if his own Kool-Aid.

  • trshmnstr||

    +2 boxen and a free snow cone

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    My first exposure to this asshole was earlier today when I read his article about how wonderful the Marketplace Fairness Act was.

    Let's just say I'm not a fan.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Slate Writer Makes Stupid, Contradictory Claims Unsupported by Reality

  • Generic Stranger||

    Otherwise known as "any day ending in 'y'".

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    So including today and yesterday but never tomorrow.?

  • Generic Stranger||

    Tomorrow is Friday, so it does include tomorrow.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    Tomorrowy?
    Tomorroy?

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    So Manjoo is a technology columnist who is freaked out by the cutting edge of technology? Maybe he should switch his job function and become a record reviewer. Just so he doesn't freak out more, he should just review old jazz records from the 1950's.

  • ||

    He thinks that the FBI warning you see before watching a DVD would work for 3D printing since it has obviously prevented movie piracy.

  • SweatingGin||

    Sports journalist, maybe.

    Or maybe there's a place for him at Time or Newsweek?

  • Cytotoxic||

    Is there even a place for Time or Nesweak aside from the rubbish bin?

  • Brendan||

    Backup for when the toilet paper runs out and there's no poison oak around.

  • trshmnstr||

    "So, why did you become a progtard?"

    "Well, i ran out of toilet paper this one time, and there wasn't anything else around, so I wiped with Time magazine. I had a rash for a while, and then I started feeling... different. I had a new found respect for Pol Pot and Che Guevarra, and I only shopped at stores that offset their shipping with carbon credits."

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Maybe at Highlights or Ranger Rick magazines?

  • LTC(ret) John||

    He could do Goofus and Gallant scripts.

  • Mainer2||

    Hey ! Don't be dissin' Goofus and Gallant.

  • kinnath||

    He was a pretty good tech writer until he had his baby, then his inner hipster-doofus sprang forth in all its glory.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    [I]t’s conceivable that lawmakers would impose severe restrictions on the 3-D printer industry, which, of course, isn’t protected by the Second Amendment.

    No, it's protected by the First Amendment Freedom of the Press.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Sort of like the paper and ink industries aren't protected by the First Amendment, I suppose.

  • ||

    Hey Tulpy-Poo, are you done getting stupider or do we have a lot more to look forward to? Please tell me it's the latter.

  • ||

    Stare too long into the Tulpyss, and the Tulpyss might stare back into you.

  • WTF||

    I'm reading that as "Tul-piss".

  • tarran||

    Stop encouraging the shitweasel! He confuses being abused with whining and argument and the more you do abuse him, the happier he is.

  • ||

    I'm just asking a substantive question, tarran.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Have you guys finally realized that I'm not him?

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Yeah. But how do we know you're not S e c r e t T o n y? Huh? Huh!?

  • Irish||

    Because I'M secret Tony.

  • ||

    I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Or maybe I'm switching back and forth between names just to fool them so I can transfer my personality to a new username.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Oh fuck off twit.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    That's exactly what I would say if I were me.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Now I know why they call you troll.

  • SugarFree||

    Now I know why they call you troll.

    It's a common tactic employed by Mary Stack, LoneWacko, American, Edward/Max/Morris/Leftiti and other long-term griefers. If you keep changing your handle you can evade filtering software. It's one of the main reasons that they implemented registration.

    Of course, the truly dedicated troll can still keep dozens of handles going in order to shout in that face of people who have the audacity to cover their ears.

  • Irish||

    American generally runs 2 or 3 accounts at once. You can tell when three racists suddenly show up at the same time. He always follows the same formula, too. One will be his normal 'American' account where it's obviously him and he posts shit from VDare and American Renaissance.

    Then he'll have one account that is supposedly from another country telling us all how terrible immigration has made their country. He especially loves choosing a European country or Israel and explaining how dangerous Muslims are.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Thank you for the elaboration.

    I don't have filtering software and don't care if people ignore me.

    In my quip, I was mainly referring to the way he was deliberately trying to annoy me to the point of anger. The only option was to disengage and walk away. I never did get the drive to be directly annoying people have online.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    If you use Chrome you can get a free add-on called "Reasonable" which enables you to filter people.

  • ||

    So government could conceivably outlaw paper and ink?

  • SugarFree||

    Tulpa thinks the government can do anything it wants.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    I'm assuming the blank spaces above didn't understand that this was sargasm.

    Ink and paper are the go-to example of stuff the govt can't ban even though it doesn't have explicit protection by the First Amendment.

  • SugarFree||

    Sargasm? You mean like being glib? Are you being glib? I thought that this was a serious place for serious discussion of serious issues by serious people? Glibness has no place here!

    And you're using reasonable to block commenters...

    A Google UserOct 15, 2011
    You really need to re-think the process of adding people to the troll list. MNG and I are now on it and neither of us fits the profile of a troll. Also I was able to increment my ignore-count (assuming that's what the number next to the name is on the list) by just unignoring and ignoring over and over again. Well, unless several other people happened to be ignoring me at the same time, which I think unlikely. That's just asking for abuse from a dishonorable user who has a grudge against someone.

    --Tulpa
  • Pro Libertate||

    Sargasm is Urkobold worship word. You must not speak it. Not without paying royalty.

  • ||

    Oh, shit, Epi, he totally didn't click "show this comment" on your comment. That's why he's talking about how he didn't read your comment. BURRRRRRN BRO

  • ||

    Yeah, there's no way an egomaniacal moron like Tulpa actually looks at all the "blocked" comments. No way at all. He's, like, too pure for that, man.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Well, it's a pretty safe bet that a reply from one of my chosen blind spot inhabitants is an insult. You're not on that list yet, Warty, because your behavior has mostly improved.

  • Pro Libertate||

    That's Stockholm Syndrome, you know. Classic symptoms.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    They should change it to Cleveland Syndrome after the events of the past week.

  • Irish||

    You're not on that list yet, Warty, because your behavior has mostly improved.

    I don't know why people don't like you, when you post totally not condescending things like this.

  • SugarFree||

    He's scared, Irish... A frighten little sissy that needs the big cock of Daddy Government up his ass to feel safe.

  • tarran||

    Please don't feed his 'I'm being hated so I must be like Socrates' self-validation rationale.

    It's like giving Phil Hartmann's wife cocaine - it's not really entertaining, and when he snaps, it's going to be ugly.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Are you saying Tulpa is Andy Dick? Because I could totally see that.

  • tarran||

    No, Tulpa is like Phil Hartman. The people abusing him are being Andy Dick.

    And I am about ready to be the John Lovitz who righteously smites the naughty in the jaw.

  • tarran||

    God, what is wrong with me?!? I meant Tulpa is like Brynn Hartman, not Phil. One turd of Phil's excrement contained more talent than Tulpa's brain will ever have.

  • ||

    Maybe you picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.

  • tarran||

    Apparently. :P

  • ||

    Every Indian I've ever talked to about it is petrified of guns. Why the fuck is that? Shouldn't they have some memory of their grandfathers being emasculated and brutalized by the limeys?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Probably because widows with guns don't get thrown into funeral pyres.

    Heavily stratified societies don't like equalizers.

  • ||

    "Brahma made man and woman, but Cody Wilson made them equal."

  • Restoras||

    Hence the actions by the British in their own homeland?

  • Nazdrakke||

    Hmm, if you're talking off-the-boat Indians it helps to remember that pacifism is a much bigger part of the Indian zeitgeist than here.

  • ||

    FOBs, and the children of FOBs, too.

  • Nazdrakke||

    Sure, the native cultural influences are starting to get diluted in the kids, but it's still pretty strong, though less pervasive in my observation.

  • Brett L||

    If you're rich enough to get to America, you're rich enough to fear a peasant uprising.

  • ||

    I've never asked a Sikh about it, though. I imagine I'd get a different answer.

  • Brett L||

    Yeah. I'd imagine.

  • kevino||

    ROFL

    RE: "For the foreseeable future, the printed gun can’t compete with manufactured weapons. It’s more expensive, less durable, and a worse shot than any gun you can buy from a store."

    Because the entire gun is manufactured to much higher tolerances than other objects -- like the high capacity magazines, which are very easy to produce with a 3D printer.

    Now, please explain how a ban on high capacity magazines is going to work, given that terrorists or psychos can print all the magazines they want. Such a ban would only be a barrier to honest citizens and would be a total failure against violent offenders intent on killing others.

  • Paul.||

    None of the people mentioned in this article serve a valid sporting purpose.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Practice targets for the "Most Dangerous Game" until real challenges arrive on the island?

  • Restoras||

    I'm not sure how good they'd be for practice targets. Cheaper to use mannequins?

  • UnCivilServant||

    The manniquins are of better use in politics.

  • ||

    There is a way they could make this impossible. They could make it illegal to sell or build a 3D printer capable of acheiving the plastic strength necessary to make a gun without a license. You could sell ones that have low-strength plastics or coarser layering but not the high-strength tight layers needed for higher strength materials.

    Of course that would destroy all sorts of useful industry and hamper innovation in the 3-D printing market. But when has congress ever cared about the perverse effects of legislation on technological innovation.

  • ||

    That has never been an issue with the truly committed gun grabber. It isn't about safety, but control.

  • SweatingGin||

    Then you just substitute a hardware store pipe for the barrel, and maybe a few other pieces for the chamber.

    Also, I bet you could print a printer that could deal with high-strength materials with a lower-strength one. Or just make it.

  • robc||

    DAT, as a further example.

  • Paul.||

    There is a way they could make this impossible. They could make it illegal to sell or build a 3D printer capable of acheiving the plastic strength necessary to make a gun without a license.

    I like your thinking, Hazel. One of my favorite armchair sports is to figure out how regulators will regulate and ban a product or idea that free people are engaged in.

    It's just this kind of innovative thinking that keeps me interested in wondering what some bureaucrat will do next.

  • ||

    I can practically hear it now. "Why does anyone need a 3D printer?" "People who want to buy a 3D printer should go through a background check." "3D printers should be required to add a unique serial number to anything they print, so the source can be discovered." "The government should own the depository where all the 3D printer files are stored, and all printers should be required to get their files from them. That way the government can find out who's trying to make guns and delete the files." "It doesn't matter if you can print a 3D gun, because you still have to get ammunition elsewhere. So we should just ban ammunition."

  • ||

    They already do this shit with export control, with which I have had painful experience.

    Processor too fast? That's a WEAPON.
    Optics too precise? WEAPON again.
    Ecryption too strong? Also a WEAPON.

    All they have to do is take the system designed for preventing American companies from selling technology that is too good overseas, and apply it to domestic markets.

    Problem solved. Guarenteed technological stagnation forever.

    Americans can't learn how to make homemade 3D printed guns if we guarentee the country stays poor and backward.

  • Paul.||

    OH shit, you're right. I forgot all about this. Yeah, 3d printing technology gets classified as a weapon, and now all 3d printing mfgs have to keep detailed sales records.

  • Redmanfms||

    Perhaps we should require all owners of 3-D printers and rapid prototypers to carry liability insurance, right?

    Sniff.

  • SweatingGin||

    Obviously 3d printers capable of producing items over 10 cubic inches in volume need to be kept secured, with a once-a-year warrantless inspection by an LEO.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Frankly, I have a hard time believing that U.S. courts that found the sharing of source code for once strictly regulated encryption software to be protected by the First Amendment won't see similar free speech concerns in the sharing of firearms designs on the Internet.

    Wait until BO gets to replace Scalia and Kennedy with Kagan clones. But

    ROMNEY WOULD HAVE DONE IT TOO!!!!!1!!!!

  • ||

    You're right, it's absurd to think that the guy who signed an assault weapons ban as governor would ever 'compromise' on 3D printing for political capital.

    And they'll have to wheel Scalia's decomposing corpse out the building before he retires and lets Obama replace him.

  • UnCivilServant||

    He'd probably keep issuing opinions from the grave.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    It's not absurd, just a buttload less likely than with a politician who has explicitly supported an AWB for a decade without interruption, and whose base is in love with every kind of gun control.

    Either Romney is a political weathervane who cares about nothing but getting elected, or a committed ideologue who would implement Massachusetts policies at the federal level even though it would mean being shitcanned by his own party. Pick one meme and stick to it.

  • Paul.||

    You know, Tulpa, there are other human beings in the world that the GOP could run and FUCKING COULD HAVE RAN who weren't Romney.

    Months before the campaign, everyone kept hyping polls that shows Obama in a X point deficit when running against [cardboard cutout]. Then Romney won the primary and proceeded to be [cardboard cutout].

    The GOP deserves every loss it gets when they do shit like this.

    Yes, Romney had an uphill battle against the media. Not sure how much of a youngin' you are, but I hate to break it to you, it's been that way going back to at least Kennedy.

    Pick a candidate you believe in, not one you think will win based on numbers.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Months before the campaign, everyone kept hyping polls that shows Obama in a X point deficit when running against [cardboard cutout].

    Link? BO was beating every possible GOP candidate in the polls during late 2011 all the way into the primary season. Romney actually had one of the lower deficits. Which specific person do you think the GOP could have beaten BO with? I would say MAYBE Perry would have had a chance because of his immigration dovishness. But he was an awful speaker and even worse debater.

    Gingrich and Santorum were despised by independents, and a wide airing of Paul's newsletter scandal would have made the libs forget all about Todd Akin. His stance on drug legalization would have been useful to BO too.

  • Paul.||

    Link? BO was beating every possible GOP candidate in the polls during late 2011 all the way into the primary season.

    I can't provide a link because I don't have time to do that deep a search.

    I remember specifically getting into online arguments (ask me when I last got laid) with red-stateers touting these very polls. And I believe these polls were fairly before late 2011. This was very early stuff before any GOP candidates had really even started campaigning.

    The usual convo would start: Hey look! Obama loses by 5 points against [randomly picked guy]. HE'S TOAST!

    Don't tell me you don't remember those.

    Which specific person do you think the GOP could have beaten BO with?

    I don't know... all I know and knew was that it absolutely positively wasn't Romney or any candidate like him.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Yes, Romney had an uphill battle against the media. Not sure how much of a youngin' you are, but I hate to break it to you, it's been that way going back to at least Kennedy.

    Not like it is now. Years ago I used to chuckle at the idea of a liberal conspiracy in the media, but now it's impossible to deny.

  • robc||

    Years ago, you were a moron.

    And now, well, you still are.

  • Paul.||

    You should read Bernard Goldberg's much media-derided book, Bias.

    You'll realize just how bad bias has been in the media by a guy who, if my memory serves, considers himself a liberal democrat.

  • Paul.||

    Not like it is now. Years ago I used to chuckle at the idea of a liberal conspiracy in the media, but now it's impossible to deny.

    Actually, I would argue it's better now.

    Because of internet, blogging, more citizen journalism, it's harder for MSM journalists to get away with their shit.

    Even the idea of a Fox News 30 years ago was unfathomable. Rush Limbaugh was considered "the most dangerous man in America".

    Alternative voices in media were so unheard of pre-1990, it was almost like watching porn to hear a conservative perspective.

    Alternative voices were considered to be the REAL lefty orgs like Pacifica or The Nation.

  • Cytotoxic||

    The only thing that improves the Ban Boner tears are your tears Tulpy.

  • Irish||

    It's only been 7 months. You can't expect Tulpa to forget the sweet nothings Romney whispered in his ear after such a short period of time.

    Don't worry, Tulpa. Even though Romney left you, you'll always have the 2012 Republican primary. You'll always have that, Tulpa.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Er, you once claimed to have voted for Romney for the same reasons I did. Are you rescinding that claim now so you can join the babboon parade?

  • ||

    And Romney would've won too, if it hadn't been for those meddling libertarian kids.

  • Irish||

    Er, you once claimed to have voted for Romney for the same reasons I did. Are you rescinding that claim now so you can join the babboon parade?

    No because I did vote for Romney. You'll remember that even when I pointed out that I voted for Romney, it was in a post criticizing you for not being able to let it go.

    You still aren't letting it go. The criticism still stands, and nothing in the post above contradicts anything I've said before.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    I'm not letting it go. It's a major deal, and we'll be dealing with the adverse effects for at least the next 3.5 years and perhaps much longer.

  • ||

    We'd be dealing with the adverse of affects of Romney for the next 3.5 years and longer too if he won the election.

  • robc||

    we'll be dealing with the adverse effects for at least the next 3.5 years and perhaps much longer.

    We'd be dealing with the adverse of affects of Romney for the next 3.5 years and longer too if he won the election.

    Which is why I voted for Johnson.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Here have a Kleenex. Do you want a kiss to make your booboo all better?

    Obama's presidency is dead in the water. The vast majority of the damage he could do was done in the 1st term. If you want to bitch about a Republican candidate we should have supported its McCain.

    And Romney would not have been a sufficient improvement.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Obamacare isn't dead in the water (as it would have been with Romney granting blanket waivers) and you severely understimate the power of executive order and department regulatory authority.

  • ||

    Yeah you're right. Under Romney, we would've had Romney's version of state run health care, which would be so much better because he has an R next to his name. And all the abuses of executive power and department regulatory authority would just blissfully ride off into the sunset.

  • robc||

    Johnson's nominees would have been better than Romney's.

    I never considered what Obama would do, he wasnt a legit contender in my state.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Not all of us are lucky enough to be surrounded by people who give guns to toddlers.

  • robc||

    Shut the fuck up, asshole.

    You are possibly worse than MNG at this point. Im not sure why I havent reasonabled you away yet.

    And Toddlers are age 1-3, so you are even wrong there.

  • ||

    I keep telling you people. This guy might be useful as a punching bag, maybe, but that's about it.

  • nipplemancer||

    I spent the last few days slogging through story after story related to DefDist's new gun. The herp and derp of the writers and the even herpier and derpier ramblings of their commentariats leads me to believe that these supposed techies are criminally retarded statists.
    The genie is out of the bottle.
    The Pirate Bay is the ultimate example. The concerted attacks from multiple nations backed by the MAFIAA and their international counterparts have failed spectacularly in defeating them. Anyone with the skills can take a bunch of broken printers and scanners and other spare parts and turn it into a 3D printer.
    The point is, gun control is impossible. Even if they somehow waved a magic wand and stopped 3D printing there is the age old technique that they apparently never consider: garage tinkerers with machine tools and bar stock.
    Guns will not go away no matter how much these assholes try. Just give up.

  • Brett L||

    gun control is impossible

    3D printers and plastic guns didn't make this true, they just proved it to people who didn't ever bother to learn the facts. If gun control (for people who don't care about the law) were possible, the Egyptian and Syrian uprisings would have been brutally put down in days not months.

  • Sevo||

    "garage tinkerers with machine tools and bar stock."

    I'm betting even machine tools aren't required. A drill, a hacksaw and files will do the trick.

  • kinnath||

    Manjoo used to be a really good tech writer. For a long time, he was the only sane voice at Salon. Since switching to Slate, he as been dabbling in politics. I think that today's article now pushed him into the do-not-read column for me.

  • Michael||

    Lawmakers could require 3-D printer manufacturers to prevent their machines from printing certain files—in the same way your DVD player can’t play movies from a different region—and impose harsh penalties for circumventing those rules.

    If this guy wasn't such a drooling half-wit, he'd realize that the more apt comparison would be to the firmware designed to prevent currency counterfeiting using commercial (2D) printers. This function, however, is still many orders of magnitude more legitimate in it's purpose than his proposal.

  • SweatingGin||

    Also, there's already home built 3d printer control systems. Even if you require commercial 3d printers to check for something (good luck identifying gun part-like objects), how hard would it be to replace the control computer with your own? Pretty easy. All it has to do is turn on a set of small motors and a heater at various times. Maybe a few solenoids.

    The control is all that matters, the rest is just simple motors and an extruder (simplest of which is hardware store parts).

  • Andrew S.||

    I would be stunned if 3D printers were legal for home use 5 years from now. Couple the gun thing with copyright holders complaining about copies of their work being made, and the ban boners are going to be popping up all over Washington DC.

  • sarcasmic||

    They'll likely require a federal license that requires waiving your 4A rights.

  • Zeb||

    I don't think that will happen. Call me a silly optimist if you want.
    Not that many people even know about this 3D printed gun thing. And 3d printers are just getting more popular and available. And gun control is still going nowhere. The AWB hasn't been renewed. Even with a really big pile of dead children to stand on, a pretty weak new gun law went nowhere.

  • Brett L||

    OT: Sequester works!

    The annual deficit has fallen 32% over the first seven months of this fiscal year compared with same period last year, according to Congressional Budget Office figures released Tuesday.
    ...
    The biggest percentage drop occurred in the payment of unemployment benefits, which were down nearly 25%, or $15 billion. Defense spending fell 5.3%, or $20 billion, and "other activities" -- primarily spending on nondefense programs -- fell 8.6%, or $58 billion.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    We're still on track for a $1.1 trillion deficit, though, based on monthly averages.

    I suspect when the math comes in, a lot of the deficit gap closure will be due to the sunset of the SS tax break.

    The biggest percentage drop occurred in the payment of unemployment benefits

    Probably because people are simply falling off the rolls instead of getting full-time jobs. The labor force participation rate is still at 30-year lows.

  • ||

    But technology and technique alike are evolving fast, and it's obvious that home manufacturing of anything and everything is on the verge of an enormous revolution. Nobody thought we'd be at this point so quickly.

    I think this is probably one of the most underreported stories in a long time. We've already gotten to the point where you don't need to buy the physical media for movies, music, and video games, but can instead download it. Once you can fabricate the media too, game over man.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    How'd they turn the power off man, their animals!

  • Jordan||

    About plastic guns: wouldn't metal detectors still detect the bullets?

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    We're trying to have an adult conversation about guns. And you try to introduce logic into the conversation?

  • Irish||

    What about rubber bullets, you glibertarian bastard?

  • UnCivilServant||

    Still cased in brass.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    As an inventor and owner of a 3d printer I'm willing to bet we can figure THAT one out.

  • Jordan||

    STOP OTHERING ME!

  • UnCivilServant||

    Metal detectors in the 90s picked up a pair of pennies in my pocket. I think there's more responsive metal in the average cartidge than that.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    This was brought up on another thread. While it may be possible to eventually make bullets and casings out of stronger plastic, making an ignition system out of plastic would require a major leap.

  • kinnath||

    They answered this question in "in the line of fire". You put your bullets in your lucky rabbit's foot key fob then assemble all the parts later on.

  • 0x90||

    So what you're saying is that we have about five minutes before courthouses ditch metal detectors in favor of millimeter wave scanners.

  • 0x90||

    Just ignore that "so what you're saying" part. The point was, regardless if shells are a problem, homemade plastic guns should serve as a good excuse for any number of expensive security upgrades.

  • robc||

    When music went digital, sales of physical media plummeted and piracy became rampant, draining the profits of the major record companies.

    This has been disproven so many times as to be laughable.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Pirates actually buy more music than non-pirates. So the RIAA was actually attacking its best customers over the free advertising.

  • robc||

    Information wants to be $5.99

  • Restoras||

    I'd pay double for all my music if the Twin Abominations of kidz bob and autotune would be forever eliminated from the universe.

  • robc||

    [I]t’s conceivable that lawmakers would impose severe restrictions on the 3-D printer industry, which, of course, isn’t protected by the Second Amendment.

    However it is protected by the 9th amendment.

  • Irish||

    HAHAHAHHAHA! Oh, man. That's funny. You still think the 9th and 10th amendments matter.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    HAHAHAHHAHA! Oh, man. That's funny. You still think the 9th and 10th amendments matter.

    There you go.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    If the ninth amendment protects everything it protects nothing.

  • SugarFree||

    A comment that Tulpa is too frightened to read.

  • ||

    The Ninth does not protect "everything". It isn't a black box you can stick your hand in and pull out a right. It simply states that all our rights are not listed in the Bill of Rights and the government can still violate those unlisted rights if it acts outside its enumerated powers.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    I like that interpretation. The question is, does the ninth actually enforce anything or is it boilerplate?

  • robc||

    There is no reason to include boilerplate.

    They couldnt list ALL rights, so the 9th is there for our protection from government abuse of the unlisted rights.

    ALL the unlisted rights. They are rights after all. Inalienable and etc.

  • ||

    Really, the Ninth and Tenth amendments are inseparable. Both clearly establish that sovereignty ultimately resides with the people and not the government. States are given more leeway in its police powers, but the people ultimately retain ALL their natural rights.

    Of course that view has been consumed by the Commerce Clause bullshit since the New Deal.

  • sarcasmic||

    Unfortunately the Bill of Rights transformed the Constitution from a charter of limited and defined powers for the government and unlimited rights for the people into one of limited and defined rights for the people and unlimited power for the government.

  • ||

    It's rather perverse that the monarchist Hamilton, if you take him at his word in the Federalist Papers, was correct when he predicted that a Bill of Rights would create the impression that government could act in any way it wanted as long as it did not violate the rights that were written down.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Some of the guys who wrote the Constitution and BoR were passing blatant abridgements of the freedom of political speech within 10 years after its ratification. So the moral of the story is that people in power don't care about pieces of paper.

    Jefferson wasn't much better, either.

  • ||

    Some of the guys who wrote the Constitution and BoR were passing blatant abridgements of the freedom of political speech within 10 years after its ratification. So the moral of the story is that people in power don't care about pieces of paper.

    Jefferson wasn't much better, either.

    Jefferson and Madison had Virginia and Kentucky nullify those blatant abridgments. Sounds like they were a lot better.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Everyone's a fan of limited government when they're out of power. TJ sure changed his tune after he took office. Look at what he did to poor Aaron Burr.

  • robc||

    The 9th amendment doesnt protect everything. It protects all natural law rights not specifically covered elsewhere. It cant logically mean anything else. It was written by people who believed that government was created to protect rights, not to grant them. As we thus all have ALL the natural law rights, and since natural law rights are inalienable, it falls on government to protect those rights. To make it clear that they werent just protecting SOME rights (as the Federalist argued in opposing the BoR that listing some would make people assume those were the only ones), they added the 9th, to make it clear that they werent limiting the list of rithts, that all were covered.

    Its so fucking simple to follow that even you should be able to follow it.

    A 9th amendment that doesnt protect anything protects nothing.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    The problem is, who determines what's covered and what's not covered?

  • robc||

    Nature and Nature's God.

  • robc||

    In other words, that is an implementation problem.

    Honestly, no different than "who determines what is covered by the 1st and 2nd amendments?"

  • robc||

    In the long run, the answer to both questions is "five old guys and gals in black robes."

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    A robust designer takes implementation problems into account.

  • robc||

    It was a committee.

    And the Bill of Rights was passed originally by the House, IIRC, which is a big-ass committee.

    Of course it wasnt a robust design.

  • ||

    Many of the Framers thought what they made would last a few generations but would eventually be changed by subsequent generations. They weren't ignorant about the nature of human beings and politicians.

  • Restoras||

    It's not a piece of plug-and-play software.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    This wide-eyed little dictator is a Leftist replicant barking out tyranny tunes which seem to be coming fast and furious from the Liberal establishment anymore.

  • ChrisN||

    If you write at Slate, under Dahlia Lithwick types, you eventually find yourself making sillier arguments

  • Tim||

    Frankly once they establish the idea that printing some objects is an illegal act they will expand it to ridiculous proportions. For instance my collection of erotic garden gnomes will have to go into the attic.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    That which is not permitted is illegal.

    /statist

  • SweatingGin||

    /statist

    In this case,

    /Slatist

  • LTC(ret) John||

    They probably should, illegality aside.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Don’t fall into Wilson’s trap. Though it’s a clever stunt, the printable gun does nothing to weaken the case for gun control...."

    Since the statists didn't actually have any logical case for gun control to begin with, it couldn't have gotten any "weaker" anyhow.

  • sarcasmic||

    Who needs logic when you've got emotion on your side?

  • Anonymous Coward||

    the responses came fast and furious:

    I C WAT U DID THAR, 2CHILI.

    When music went digital, sales of physical media plummeted and piracy became rampant, draining the profits of the major record companies. With his 3-D gun plans—which he’s making available online for free—Wilson could bring about the same forces in the gun industry.

    First, file-sharing has been apocalypse of the music industry. I see former Sony execs on the streets rattling little cups and sending their daughters out to blow johns for quarters. Second, nobody has a patent or an copyright on "the gun" *full stop*. This is just a new model of firearm, although it looks more like a single-serving, use-and-drop gun. Therefore, there is no grounds for the gun manufacturers to sue DD for something that is owned by DD, or worse, something that is in the public domain.

  • 0x90||

    Wait, I thought executives were, by definition, libertarians. Or vice versa.

    Something, something, Somalia.

  • TheZeitgeist||

    Few things are as entertaining as watching a control freak mentally confront physics and technology - hahahaha!

  • Raston Bot||

    ...conceivable that lawmakers would impose severe restrictions on the 3-D printer industry, which, of course, isn’t protected by the Second Amendment.

    I'm sure his twitter is filling up with "FIRST amendment, you cumstain" and similar constructive criticisms.

  • An0nB0t||

    Lawmakers could require 3-D printer manufacturers to prevent their machines from printing certain files—in the same way your DVD player can’t play movies from a different region—and impose harsh penalties for circumventing those rules.

    I bought my last DVD player circa 2003-4 for $30 off of Amazon. The player had a "secret" 15-second button-mashing ritual I had to go through to unlock it as a region-free player and enable it to play that uncut Zhang Yimou DVD I picked up on ebay a week before. Pretty much everyone who bought the player on Amazon mentioned the unlocking process in his review.

    Why such widespread lawlessness? Because the manufacturer of said DVD player realized that he would sell more units if people knew that his cheap-o brand could play every conceivable DVD sans hassle. That this tech-writer dunderhead doesn't realize that 3D-printer manufacturers would be in precisely the same boat--namely punished financially for not allowing potential buyers to use his product in any way that pleases them, including "unlocking" it to print gun parts or gaskets or dildos or whatever other politically disfavored objects offend the nannies in gov--demonstrates again the paucity of humanity's education in human nature and economics.

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