For a lot of us, the idea of 3D-printed guns holds a great deal of allure, but not because of the ability to circumvent gun laws with the weapons. Most of us understand that a firearm that is illegal is still illegal, regardless of how it’s manufactured. A felon who 3D-prints a gun is just as criminal as if he bought that gun off the black market.
No, for a lot of us, it’s the fact that it’s new technology that will change the industry forever as it matures.
It’s that the future is now.
But for critics, 3D-printed guns are terrifying. They’re utterly convinced that criminals and other bad actors will use this technology going forward for all kinds of nefarious purposes. That’s why there’s such a push to stop it.
Unfortunately for them, it ain’t working.
Plans for 3D-printed guns have spread across the internet over the past three weeks despite the efforts of a federal judge and some of the country’s largest social media companies to try to impose limits.
Gun rights supporters say the online explosion — one website owner who posted the plans said his site logged 1.4 million requests over the past three weeks — shows the futility of efforts to put the genie back into the bottle.
But gun control advocates are still battling and will be back in court Tuesday to ask U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik to extend his order halting a settlement between Texas-based Defense Distributed and the State Department, which struck a deal rolling back Obama-era restrictions on posting the plans.
Second Amendment supporters say it’s too late.
“The genie’s been out of the bottle for a very, very long time,” said Dave Kopel, research director of the Colorado-based Independence Institute. “There’s nothing any government in the world can do to prevent the fact that these files have been out there on the internet for five years and are going to be available to the public.”
That widespread availability could be key to the ongoing legal battle.
If the plans are out there elsewhere, blocking Defense Distributed from posting them on its website doesn’t make much sense, company founder Cody Wilson said.
This is a prime example of the Streisand Effect.
For anyone unfamiliar with the term, singer and actress Barbara Streisand filed a lawsuit because of a photo of her house. It seems a photographer took the photo and published it, announcing who lived there. Streisand sued because she felt it was an invasion of privacy.
Well, the lawsuit drew a whole lot more attention to the photo of her house than the initial publication of it ever had. In other words, she made the problem far bigger in her effort to fight it.
In a similar vein, anti-gun activists have drawn a lot more attention to the existence of these files. As a result, a lot of people have downloaded them that otherwise wouldn’t have. Still, others are hosting them that probably wouldn’t have bothered if the anti-gun left had just left them alone.
Basically, they took the one place where these files were and attacked it so ferociously that the entire community jumped up and started hosting the files as well, making the assault on Defense Distributed useless.
This makes me smile.
But it also makes me smile that the anti-gunners are beating their heads against a wall on this. Even they have to know that they’ll never take the plans off the internet. It’s just not going to happen.