Gun Control

Sen. Menendez Calls for Twitter to Stop Spreading Software That Can Help Make Weapons

Press release from Jersey senator asks Twitter to censor specific user @ivanthetroll12.


Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) made a direct call to Twitter chieftain Jack Dorsey asking him to eliminate tweets from a particular user, @ivanthetroll12, as revealed in a press release from the senator's office earlier this month.

Ivanthetroll12 twitter

The letter read in part:

Dear Mr. Dorsey,

I write to express concern regarding Twitter's decision to allow its users to publicize links to downloadable blueprints for 3D-printed firearms. I ask that you take immediate steps to remove such links, as well as the ability to directly message these links from your platform….I do not believe one of the country's most prominent tech companies should be facilitating access to these deadly weapons….

On February 22, 2019 the user @IvanTheTroll12 tweeted his plans to release blueprints for a 3D-printed AR-15 firearm. The following day, @IvanTheTroll12 tweeted a direct download link to a website whereby anyone is free to download the blueprints….if foreign users are able to access the website and the blueprints, the publication of these blueprints violates the law. I urge you to take immediate action to remove the publication of the links. In addition, I would like to know what Twitter is doing to ensure that other users do not use your platform for such nefarious and potentially unlawful actions in the future….

The account (and its tweets) that bothered Menendez still exist, with the feed containing many other posts regarding different versions of software-enabled home gun manufacture, as well as tweets pointing out that for the vast majority of people who can't legally obtain a gun, black market purchase would be a far more obvious choice than the complications of making guns at home via 3D printers or CNC (computer numerical control) mills, which move and control machine tools via software commands.

The man behind the account says in an email yesterday that he's heard nothing from Twitter after Menendez called him out. "I suspect it'll just blow over at this point, I don't think they'd take this long if they planned to act. But who knows, maybe they are scheming a big TOS update."

But, he wrote, "I'm certain that if a printed gun is ever used in a crime that Twitter will crack down."

"Ivan" says he's not sure how Menendez came across his tweets. "I've tweeted at him since his letter to antagonize him, but had no interaction with him prior to his letter."

Menendez's office did not respond as of press time as to whether Dorsey or anyone at Twitter has responded to them regarding his March 7 release.

Ivan also insists that Menendez revealed a politician's typically thin understanding of the complications involved in connecting the spread of speech and information with a likely physical threat.

That is, the information Ivan is spreading (which Menendez's state of New Jersey has tried to mostly ban) is still a very long way from any object in the world existing. "You'd need 500k in machines (either a 5 axis CNC + lathe or a DLMS [direct metal laser sintering] metal printer) to make an entire AR15 from those files," he wrote in an email.

"The point in the files is that a) you could actually do it, and b) as with all reference models, it can be used as a base for modification or customization. Want to design your own 3d printed stock—take this AR15 CAD and use it to get all the measurements you need, and you will be saved lots of trial and error."

But, Ivan insists, "the fact remains it is a reference model—it is not 3d printable as the Senator suggests (unless you have 500k-1m dollars in DLMS setup, but you can buy truck-fulls of AR15s for that)."

Ivan wonders if Menendez's office is intentionally trying to confuse Dorsey and the public about what Ivan really did on Twitter. "I fully believe the Senator knows the files aren't printable (we didn't include any files that are set up for printing in the package), the readme disclaims that you can't print it, and the announcement tweet made it clear that it is a reference model."

He clarifies: His tweets and the links in them "makes the AR15 CAD public domain, it makes the AR15 an idea and not a physical item, but it doesn't make the AR15 printable. He knows this, and it posturing and pretending the files are something that they aren't."

Menendez's state of New Jersey passed a law last year trying to ban the transmission of software that could help instruct a home device to make a weapon to anyone not a licensed gun manufacturer. Defense Distributed, whose controversial founder Cody Wilson was called out specifically by the state's attorney general as the law's target, sued along with other Second Amendment interest groups to block enforcement of the law, which they think violated the First Amendment, the Supremacy Clause, and the Commerce Clause.

That particular case was tossed out of court in February by a U.S. district judge in Texas largely on jurisdictional grounds; he didn't think Texas was the proper place for the suit. While that dismissal is under appeal in the 5th Circuit, a separate suit along the same grounds was filed in February in federal court in New Jersey. In that case an initial request for a preliminary injunction against the state also so far failed and is on appeal to the 3rd Circuit, according to Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation, one of the parties to the suit.

Ivan, who did not want to reveal any other name, says he is not associated with Defense Distributed.