3D Printing

The Government Wants You to Get Its Permission Before Discussing Gunmaking Information on the Internet (or Anywhere)

ITAR wants to codify awful practices 3D printed gun guru Cody Wilson is suing them over.


The NRA notes with alarm last week something that, if it were paying attention, it would realize is not a fear on the horizon but a nightmare certain people are already living:

Your action is urgently needed to ensure that online blogs, videos, and web forums devoted to the technical aspects of firearms and ammunition do not become subject to prior review by State Department bureaucrats before they can be published…

….the Administration has been pursuing a large-scale overhaul of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which implement the federal Arms Export Control Act (AECA)…

Also regulated under ITAR are so-called "technical data" about defense articles. These include, among other things, "detailed design, development, production or manufacturing information" about firearms or ammunition. Specific examples of technical data are blueprints, drawings, photographs, plans, instructions or documentation…

Some State Department officials now insist that anything published online in a generally-accessible location has essentially been "exported," as it would be accessible to foreign nationals both in the U.S. and overseas.

With the new proposal published on June 3, the State Department claims to be "clarifying" the rules concerning "technical data" posted online or otherwise "released" into the "public domain." To the contrary, however, the proposal would institute a massive new prior restraint on free speech. This is because all such releases would require the "authorization" of the government before they occurred. The cumbersome and time-consuming process of obtaining such authorizations, moreover, would make online communication about certain technical aspects of firearms and ammunition essentially impossible.

Penalties for violations are severe and for each violation could include up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. Civil penalties can also be assessed. Each unauthorized "export," including to subsequent countries or foreign nationals, is also treated as a separate violation.

Some alarming language from the proposed regs:

The requirements of paragraph (b) are not new. Rather, they are a more explicit statement of the ITAR's requirement that one must seek and receive a license or other authorization from the Department or other cognizant U.S. government authority to release ITAR controlled "technical data," as defined in § 120.10. A release of "technical data" may occur by disseminating "technical data" at a public conference or trade show, publishing "technical data" in a book or journal article, or posting "technical data" to the Internet. This proposed provision will enhance compliance with the ITAR by clarifying that "technical data" may not be made available to the public without authorization. Persons who intend to discuss "technical data" at a conference or trade show, or to publish it, must ensure that they obtain the appropriate authorization.

As readers of Reason know well, Cody Wilson is living proof the government has already been acting on the belief they have this power to prevent certain technical details about gun making from spreading to the Internet without their approval—in Wilson's case, CAD files to for a 3D printed plastic handgun. And they've already been sued for it by Wilson.

Wilson this morning tells me that in making this regulatory move public, it's almost like the people he's suing are begging for an injunction to stop them. The proposed regulation is even signed by one of the same people Wilson is suing, C. Edward Peartree, director of the Office of Defense Trade Controls Policy. (One might argue that this is a person being sued in some sense backtracking to cover his own legal ass by stating that the seemingly objectionable actions he's being sued over are settled lawful regulations, though I don't know if a court would agree with that argument one way or the other.)

The State Department, Wilson says, could have gone to the next hearing on his case on July 6 "and say we are changing the rule, we will address [Wilson's complaints about the 1st, 2nd, and 5th amendment issues with their censorious practice], moot the case." Instead they are "completely explicit" with these new announced regs, "doubling down" on their supposed power to require government license for certain kinds of speech related to weapons usable for self-defense. 

Wilson says his suit had to try to demonstrate that the government had such a policy for prior approval of speech. Now the government is "saying our policy is literally that there is such a requirement and always has been." Wilson seems to think it might make it easier to get an injunction against the government's threats to him to take down from his servers information related to the home-making of plastic guns via 3D printers. We'll see.

In other 3D-printed gun news, Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) this week re-introduced his 2013 go-nowhere bill to essentially ban plastic guns, using recent revelations of how incompetent the TSA is at finding any contraband as a news hook of sorts. Wilson says in response that he feels Israel's move is more like a lame attempt at fundraising than serious legislating. Wilson also argues that these efforts on the part of Israel and his supporters aren't really about plastic or detectability—just about robbing citizens of the power to make their own weapons at all. 

"It's about freezing the state of gun technology in its current mode," Wilson says. "What offends Israel is the discovery that people can more easily create" a weapon at home. "He found a security norm [detectability] to justify the regulation," but, Wilson argues, like the recent attempt to ban green-tip ammo, where they made it about protecting police, that's just scrambling for an excuse the average citizen might find agreeable to disguise an agenda of total control.

"I would love to be able to [confront Israel] again on NPR," Wilson says. What Israel wants to do, says Wilson, is "to disable the ability to create things for yourself, to make it more expensive, to freeze how guns are made so that [getting one] always requires paying a specialist manufacturer with expensive capital" instead of being able to DIY.

Reason TV did a feature last year on Wilson's subversive activities:

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  1. You know who else was targeted by the government because of comments on online discussion forums?

    1. And we’re done here. Rest of the comments on this one are no longer necessary.

    2. Socrates?

    3. That new sophomore kid, Johnny Hitler?

    4. Your mo…oh, never mind.

      1. Thirty-one people were killed in woodchipper accidents between 1992 and 2002 in the US, according to a 2005 report by the Journal of the American Medical Association.[2]

        1. Do I win a Prize ???? =)

          1. Your special prize paperwork is being signed by a hack judge as we speak.

            1. “signed by a hack judge as we speak.”

              That could be interpreted as saying you want to hack up a judge in a wood chipper, off to the gulag with you.

              1. Isn’t wood chipper a golf term

    5. Only someone who really deserved it good and hard, I’m sure of it!

      1. I have no opinion about this

    6. Everyone?

    7. Goddamnit. If you’re not first, you’re last.

    8. You are now my favorite commenter. Let me know the URL for your GoFundMe, later.

    9. The king of Troy?

    10. Craftsman, maker of electric man-tools? (electric saws, nail-guns, electric drills) . . .

      Body Double was a damn good movie.

    11. Target . . . errr, I mean Walmart?

  2. Look, this is just common sense regulation. No one wants to take away guns or restrict freedom of speech. Have they ever given us any reason not to trust them?

    1. Uh. I’m thinking.

  3. Given the anti-firearm hysteria in the media and the de-normalization jihad of the education establishment, how much support for Second Amendment rights do you think there will be in 40 years or so?

      1. Sure there will be: in the prisons where they send people who support the second amendment.

    1. Depends, inside or outside the reeducation camps?

    2. I think it’s hard to call it, honestly. The post-Newtown push for gun control really galvanized the gun community like never before. There’s evidence that gun ownership is actually increasing, such as the rise in Illinois FOID card applications (it can’t be “a small group of extremists buying more guns” as the left likes to say, because each individual is only issued one FOID card).

      The mess of conflicting statistics makes it confusing, but my belief is that the gun control crowd is actually the small, vocal minority.

      1. Keep in mind that, at this moment in history, while the fringes of both sides are likely to say just about anything, the core of the Political Right tends to tell the truth because they know that any lie they are caught in they will be bludgeoned with. The political Left, OTOH, knows nothing of the kind, and so they lie reflexively, and are astonished and outraged when called on it.

    3. Uh considering that the 2A has only gotten stronger in the past two decades…probably a lot?

    4. The last couple decades have been on the overall very good for gun rights in this country.

  4. How many attempts at back-door gun control does this make by this administration? We have Fast and Furious, the attempt to reclassify certain 5.56 ammo, and now this. I think there were others but they’re not coming to me right now. No, Obama isn’t trying his darnedest to initiate unpopular gun control. No, not at all.

    1. Gun owners have defeated him a few times. You think he’ll just take that standing down? This shit is personal now.

      1. You think he’ll just take that standing down?

        You know what, let’s just pretend I invented a new idiom.

        1. Hey! I like that! [INSERT COP ABUSE STORY HERE] Police aren’t just going to take this standing down…
          Militia at the Bundy ranch also wouldn’t take it standing down.

          1. Why are you playing nice lately, Tulpa? You hate us.

            1. Not Tulpa, dude. Just new.

        2. Give it 10 years, and Senators will be accused of “down-standing” rather than grand-standing, when defending constitutional rights.

          1. Perhaps they should be accused of down-syndroming when they aren’t?

    2. I think there were others but they’re not coming to me right now.

      The DHS buying up way more ammo than necessary comes to mind.

    3. You forgot banned the importation of all ak-47s.

      1. They did? When and how? How did I miss this? Maybe I just blocked it out.

        1. Executive order, bitch:

          Thirty-six hours after the Obama administration banned importation of the classic brand of AK-47 assault rifles as part of sanctions against Russia, a Maryland dealer specializing in the weapon took stock of its inventory.

          There was nothing left.


          1. God damn it.

            1. Don’t worry, they’re going to make them in the U.S.!

          2. “sanctions against Russia”


          3. That’s ok. You can make an AK out of a shovel. 🙂 Link below.

        2. What did I say about reading news while praticing auto erotic asphyxiation, Epi?

        3. What did I say about reading news while praticing auto erotic asphyxiation, Epi?

        4. If you’re like me, maybe your eyes just glaze over whenever you see “AK-47” or “Glock” in an article.

      2. and Russian ammo.

    4. “Just because Obama has tried for “common sense” regulations, he obviously hasn’t been able to accomplish these “reasonable restrictions” because paranoid, racist, cis-white males think Obama is trying to take their guns away. But name one gun that Obama has banned? Yeah, you couldn’t! So, why are you being such a paranoid obstructionist?…. Something, something, fer teh chillren, something…”


      1. When they say he isn’t trying to take your guns, point to the fact that he endorsed Australia-style gun-control in the wake of the D.C. navy yard shooting. You know, essentially advocating taking peoples guns away.

  5. This is my least favorite flavor of irony.

  6. Well. Gunsmiths in the Philippines are not impressed.


    1. The rifling in a gun barrel leaves an individual “Fingerprint” on every projectile fired. This is how individual guns become “Hot”. This why Philippine knock off’s are so popular. If 3d printed riffling becomes standard, then 3d printed guns become untraceable.

      1. “This is how individual guns become “Hot”. This why Philippine knock off’s are so popular”

        In the Black Market.

      2. The rifling in a gun barrel leaves an individual “Fingerprint” on every projectile fired.

        I’ve heard from people in the know that this can be very difficult to prove in actual trial practice.

        1. Well Paul difficult to prove, or not. A lot of “Hot” guns move south of the border for that Reason. Drink !!!

        2. The rifling in a gun barrel, despite claims to the contrary, is NOT a constant. Firing brings changes, cleaning, proper or improper can also change the picture. In addition, re rifles, barrels usually screw into the receiver.They unscrew too, different barrels, different rifling patterns.

          1. Not to say you are wrong. If you are an actual criminal would you take that chance ?

          2. Also, just about every semi-auto handgun can be disassembled without tools in minutes. Replacing the barrel is easy and untraceable.

            1. My brother has a few pistols where he can switch calibers…

          3. One can also paper-patch one’s bullets so they never touch the bore. When the bullet leaves the barrel, the paper patch is immediately destroyed, leaving nothing that can link the paper-patched bullet to the bore from which it was fired.

        3. Well let put it this way. If you use a “Hot” gun in a robbery, get caught, and can be charged with every crime that has been ever been committed with that gun would you not have a “need” for a Philippine knock off ?

        4. I’m pretty sure even most employees of the justice department base their understanding of quality of evidence on what they see in TV shows rather than actual experimental data showing how accurately a pattern such as a fingerprint or a weapon’s rifling actually identifies an individual person or object.

        5. Well, it’s difficult to prove scientifically. In a trail, with an “expert” witness paid off by the government, it becomes quite easy to convince 12 morons that it does match, even if it doesn’t.

          1. bingo.

          2. It is actually possible to estimate the reliability scientifically. Not prove, just get a percentage. Basically, you have either an ‘expert’ or (preferably) a computer program analyze a bunch of different shots from multiple weapons, and infer how many different weapons produced the collection of shots, and which one produced each shot, then you get an estimate of how accurately the pattern identifies the weapon. Of course, you would want to do this with different types of weapons, as the accuracy rate probably varies depending on the weapon type (I know nothing about firearms, but a lot about statistics, so I know when you change a parameter you probably get a different output).

            Of course, to most Americans numbers are scary, so instead of being told ‘there’s a 92% chance that this shot was fired by this weapon given what we know’ and considering what constituted reasonable doubt, instead, we need an ‘expert’ to give his seal of approval to something as ‘true’ or ‘false/’

            1. Yeah, but that’s not how it is done.

              What we actually do is this:

              1) The police decide they have their man.

              2) They present a seized weapon to the forensics lab along with a couple of recovered bullets.

              3) The forensics lab performs a test firing to obtain sample bullets from the gun.

              4) The forensics lab compares the test bullets to the evidence bullets under a microscope. They twist and turn and scan the lengths of the bullets looking for any matching patterns. Their process is “find something that matches these two bullets”.

              5) If they can find anything at all similar, declare in court that to a scientific degree of certainty these bullets were fired by this weapon.

              There are so many scratches on a fired bullet, it would be surprising if they couldn’t find some pattern burried in there to match them up, given enough samples and at least similar rifling. I’ve seem examples that were so similar that there were very few mismatches, but I’ve also seen examples where only a few major grooves matched up.

    2. That was kind of my first thought on this. What the fuck are they trying to accomplish? People in pretty much third world conditions can make assault rifles with the most rudimentary of metal working tools, so what’s the point? It’s not like we’re talking about ICBMs or nukes here.

        1. Well, in general, bureaucrats are completely ignorant of many of the things they regulate. As are the politicians. They hear about scary new gun technology and run to ban it. There isn’t much thinking here besides how to get it done.

          1. ^^ Like

          2. That’s why you have to hire experts in the field you want regulate to help you write regulations.

            I hear companies in the field are eager to lend out their experts.

          3. “Well, in general, bureaucrats are completely ignorant of many of the things they regulate. As are the politicians.”

            Or, you know, it could be a conscious attempt by some to drive up black market prices, so they can charge their customers more:


  7. Alright, enough about guns. What about discussing wood chippers and the depths of hell online?

    1. Certainly this will be a meme…

    2. Personally I’m pro-wood chipper, but only if used to threaten/ torture Pinocchio. Never real people, even as a joke. *looks around nervously*

      As for hell, I’ve always subscribed to what I call a combination of the Dante’s Inferno view of hell, with multiple levels depending on severity of sin and the Shepard Book theory that there’s a special level reserved for child molestors and people who talk at the movies.

      1. There is no such thing as holland there is no such thing as wood chippers.

        1. Hell

    3. Just stand down.

      1. You do know you’ve just whacked a hornet’s nest, don’t you?

    4. How about neckties? Can we talk about neckties? Especially silk neckties.I hear they make great Christmas gifts!

  8. Who, one wonders, might government by pushing this ridiculous idea, think it might be serving. It most certainly is not serving the interests of law abiding citizens,nor is it serving the cause of preserving constitutional rights.

    1. The people in government rarely, if ever, serve the interests of good people or preserving constitutional rights. And it’s intentional. But I suspect you know this.

  9. Do I have to ask for permission to have them suck my dick?

    Serious question because I’m serious.


    1. I’m pretty sure that’s what affirmative consent laws mean.

    2. Your disclaimer was blank. Did I see what you did there?

    3. Did you pay her/him ? Serious answer. =)

    4. You need to negotiate a price if you’re serious, Cupcake. But we don’t talk about those types of things here.

  10. To Whom It May Concern:
    GIVE UP.
    You’re never going to get the genie back in that bottle, no matter how hard you try.

  11. I’m wondering,what is the best wood chipper on the market?

    1. I prefer the Wallenstein PTO models that can run up to 100 RPM…they take bigger limbs….

  12. People in pretty much third world conditions can make assault rifles with the most rudimentary of metal working tools, so what’s the point?

    What about that guy in Vermont(?) who whanged out an AK47 receiver using an old coal shovel?

    1. Why don’t you share with the rest of the class ? =)

      1. Say goodbye to your evening

        To start, I wanted to anneal the shovel and pound it flat enough. To accomplish this I pissed into the furnace and lit it on fire. Then I added some waste motor oil to get to higher temps.

        1. Thank Warty. I love swimming in Muck. =)

  13. When wood chippers are outlawed, the price of axes will rise.

    1. ^^ Like

    2. Here’s Johnny.

      1. Daaaannnyyy!

    3. When wood chippers are outlawed, only outlaws will have wood chippers.

      1. Please Keep The Comments In Bounds

        Violations of the rule are a Federal offense.

      2. Ding-ding-ding

    4. I am opposed to raising axes.

  14. Fuck the Office of Defense Trade Controls Policy, fuck the State Department, and fuck the federal government–full stop.

    P.S. My real name is Ken Shultz. That’s spelled K-E-N S-H-U-L-T-Z.

    1. It’d be worthless to subpoena Ken Shultz. He knows nussing.

    2. How is it spelled in the original German?

  15. Shit shovel AK

    Most amusing.

  16. Ya see – according to progressive commies = we ain’t born free with natural rights. Only the centralized gooberming with its elite cadre of knowledge workers knows what’s best for you – serf – they’ll let you know what rights you have or don’t have.

  17. Ain’t just guns kids… crypto are ‘munitions’ too.

    1. Isn’t that mostly abandoned? Because if not, combining that with the “you need permission to publish” shit they’re pushing here would feature some serious jail time for a ton of software devs.

      1. Nope. The details have changed a bit, but you still can’t export the highest grade crypto from the US. And you can’t re-export it if it comes from somewhere else.

  18. Reality Check. If you do not like the Free Market, you are going to get the Black Market.


  19. Is there a way we could get this information into the public domain where it can’t be censored?

    Like read into the Congressional Record or part of a public trial…

  20. Let’s see, 5 parts saltpeter, 3 parts charcoal and 2 parts sulfur, ground into a fine powder.

    There, how’s that for sharing technical data?

    I guess they’re just trying to increase the number of silly laws that each of us break each day so that when they go full-on police state, there’s something to charge everyone with.

  21. Russia and China built a whole new internet with no Google servers in the USA. BRICS bank is going to take down the dollar.

    1. Josey Whales|6.9.15 @ 9:00PM|#
      “Russia and China built a whole new internet with no Google servers in the USA. BRICS bank is going to take down the dollar.”

      Sarc? Stupidity?
      Ima go with really, really stupid.

    2. Hans Brics, you’re breakin my barrs here!

  22. it is beginning to look like china

  23. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ?????? http://www.netcash5.com

  24. So, Bill Clinton sells to the Chinese the secrets for our ICBM’s, but I can’t talk about my AKM…
    Obama arms ISIS/ISIL/whomever, but I can’t ask friends technical questions about firearms…

    I revoke any presumed contract with this government.

  25. When they start grabbing guns they won’t get any from me as I don’t own any, but if any member of military foreign or domestic kicks my door in, I have cold shiny steel waiting for them.

  26. we had one revolution because of tyranny, I see another on the horizon ” the tree of liberty must from time to time be refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants, it is its natural manure. ” T. Jefferson

  27. Start making cash right now… Get more time with your family by doing jobs that only require for you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. Start bringing up to $8596 a month. I’ve started this job and I’ve never been happier and now I am sharing it with you, so you can try it too. You can check it out here…

  28. There is no way this would hold up in court……and they know it! They don’t care…it’s the taxpayer’s money who has to pay for litigation.

  29. And our paranoid government has nothing better to do than go “trolling for trolls”.

    Which reminds me of a Reason magazine cover. Featuring a drone.

    It’s . . almost. . . PROPHETIC.

  30. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ?????? http://www.netcash5.com

  31. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go? to tech tab for work detail,,,,,,,

    ????????????? http://www.pay-buzz.com

  32. ITAR is always fun but it cover defend article and is meant to govern defense contractors. Unless our government plans to start defending the nation using home made, printed or privately modified arms for national defend I’m not sure why this is even an issue.

    Other than of course fytw.

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