piranha: red origami crane (Default)
[personal profile] piranha
so yesterday i was prompted by an email to check where the 3D printed gun project had gotten too. very timely, since apparently they just managed to print the entire gun (not just the lower receiver, which had been done previously). and shoot it. once. short report from the BBC which is not terribly alarmist. i guess the heat ruins the plastic barrel; i am surprised it actually fired successfully (but then i don't actually know how much heat gets released). cody wilson, the crypto-anarchist, techno-libertarian law student (not sure what he considers himself) helming the project shared the CAD files[*] on the net.

this is all there is to it. simple, eh?

so, predictably, hysteria ensued. US legislators rush to make the technology illegal, the state department demands the site take the files down. which it has; not like there's a lot of choice if your organization is in the US.

but no matter how firmly the barn door is being slammed shut, more than 100,000 people had already downloaded the files. last i checked they were also hosted on mega, kim dotcom's new venture. and however much i think he is a prick, he does enjoy sticking it to the US government, so those files will remain available somehow. also, knowing that it can be done will spur other people on to replicate and improve on the design. and the US government being its usual ham-fisted self, that alone will make some people want to help distribute the files far and wide. i sympathize with that notion; these days it doesn't take much huffing from the feds for me to cheer anyone who defies them.

it's a good time to reflect on how my views have changed from the idea that guns should only be legal for hunting (and that reluctantly). i don't like the US's gun culture; it's full of testosterone-poisoned posturing. i think rabid 2nd amendment fans live in a fantasy world, because if you actually want firepower to protect yourself from the government, go for anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons. hand guns are not what wins wars against governments gone bad (cf libya). well-regulated militias? militias in the US seem to be populated by racist, neo-nazi morons; pretty much the last people i'd want to rely on to save me from the government.

i've never owned a gun. i've never really felt the need for one, though living with US gun culture got me close to wondering whether i should get one -- not to protect myself from the government, but to protect myself from the gun-wielding nut cases. i came to north america with lofty ideas about gun control. i've pretty much given up on those. it seems that in every country that's not brutally controlled by its government, the number of unregistered handguns vastly outnumbers the registered ones. ergo, these are laws people don't obey, even if they might not agitate against them. laws people don't obey are worthless. and really, laws are not the best answer to a cultural problem anyway.

so it feels weird to be on what feels like the opposite side from where i used to be, and very firmly so. i am not worried about 3D printed guns. i know now how very easy it is to make your own gun with rudimentary metalworking skills, materials and tools one can get from any hardware store. and that gun will be cheaper, safer, and much more durable. sure, plastic guns can't be detected by metal detectors, but neither can ceramics. personally i have no need to evade a metal detector. and terrorists are not gonna be falling over each other 3D printing weapons that can only get off one shot, for heavens' sakes.

i am hoping cody wilson stays out of jail. if anything, his initiative is showing all of us how dangerous a government with too damn much power is to personal liberty.

no, i'm not worried about 3D printed guns. i am worried about drones, and chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. i am not terribly worried about terrorists. i am much more worried about governments in cahoots with big business curtailing democracy and my own choices.

[*] not only that link, but the entire server was down when i checked just now.

on 2013-05-10 04:56 (UTC)
nicki: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] nicki
I suspect that the ability to print a gun is worth more in countries with stringent gun control than it is in the US. It's be way cheaper and easier for me to go down to where-ever the next gun show is and buy a gun there than to figure out where to buy a 3d printer, buy it, set it up, buy the materials, download the schematics and print them out, and then assemble the gun out of the printed parts.

Also, I imagine that Cody would probably have a pretty good first amendment case, as I'm pretty sure there are plenty of texts out there about how to machine a gun.

on 2013-05-10 12:55 (UTC)
cheyinka: A Metroid from Metroid Prime, made to look like an old, faded photograph. (faded Metroid)
Posted by [personal profile] cheyinka
I'm fairly sure Cody Wilson got both a manufacturing and a seller's license, so he should be good on the firearms law front; on the publishing the plans front, I agree with [personal profile] nicki that there's plenty of documentation on how to machine one, some of it distributed at one point by the (US) government. That means that if he gets arrested for some mysterious other reason (and I hate, hate, hate that I can't just assume my government won't find mysterious other reasons), he should have both the various right-to-bear-arms groups and the various free-speech groups willing to help him.

on 2013-05-10 14:21 (UTC)
xiphias: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] xiphias
It remains way, way easier to build a gun out of spare parts in your home workshop than to print it out. People have been making zip guns since the Fifties, and they haven't led to a great deal of anarchy.

Heck, one of my friends back in high school build one as a prop for our school musical production of GREASE, because it was just as easy to build a working one as it was to build something that vaguely looked like one. The thing that he built in an hour as a prop for a musical was just about as accurate and reliable as that thing, which takes longer than an hour to print.

on 2013-05-10 22:11 (UTC)
outlier_lynn: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] outlier_lynn
When I first heard of printing a gun, I wondered about the heat and the pressure. Gun barrels are carefully built from premium quality metal because any tiny little flaw in the metal has the potential of making the gun a bomb.

I think it is a neat experiment just for the excitement it causes in US politics. Gotta love watching the hysterics.

on 2013-05-11 00:42 (UTC)
necturus: 2016-12-30 (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] necturus
IMHO the Second Amendment came out of a distrust of standing armies, driven by the historical memory of Cromwell's New Model Army in England; and something I like to call the Bunker Hill myth: that an ad hoc group of yeoman farmers, armed with their personal muskets, could defeat the best trained army in Europe and drive it out of Massachusetts.

The concern about standing armies was legitimate, and remains so today, when we have a professional military machine whose members increasingly tend to see themselves as morally superior to the civiians they are hired to protect, and who are increasingly feeling the influence of religious extremists (as did Cromwell's men).

The Bunker Hill myth is bullshit; it was geography more than anything else that enabled Washington's ill-trained rabble (which included some of my ancestors) to drive the British out of Boston. When Washington took the same bunch to New York, an island in waters easily commanded by the British navy, he was lucky to escape with his head, and the British chased him clear across New Jersey.

The guns issue is a distraction; the real threat is money and the influence it buys too easily. There are millions of Americans who will never vote for a Democrat for fear he or she will take away their guns, but they are all too easily persuaded to vote for Republicans who deprive them of their livelihoods, strip them of their homes, and leave them dirt poor with bleak futures. It boggles the mind.

on 2013-05-11 21:22 (UTC)
frith: Yellow pony with yellow mane, suspicious look (FIM Applejack)
Posted by [personal profile] frith
Laws are the answer to some cultural problems. For instance, without laws, most people would not wear seat-belts in cars. But in instances where there is a hope of not getting caught, your point is valid. We are trained from birth to hide socially unacceptable behaviour.

This one doesn't trouble me much.

on 2013-05-13 16:34 (UTC)
Posted by [personal profile] flarenut
I've had collateral contact with arms-control regulations going on 30 years now, so what happened (from a purely technical point of view seems pretty clear to me): Someone published the technical data for something claiming to be a munition on a medium that is accessible to nationals of countries to which it is unlawful to export munitions from the US or NATO countries. So the relevant enforcement people asked them to stop doing that while someone who knows about munitions decides whether this is a munition of the kind that can't lawfully be exported.

Same thing would have happened if the people who make M-16s or F-35s had posted the blueprints and assembly instructions for those on the open intertubes. But their business model is closed source, so they don't.

It's way easier to make a working gun in almost any other possible way; my main concern is that it will inspire a bunch of young geeks who think they are being all hip to experiment in ways that will blow their hands or heads off.

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