I tend to read a fair number of op-eds in the course of my day. Most are the typical talking points with little new worth discussing. This is especially true with publications tied to colleges and universities, even the unofficial ones.
However, one caught my eye. The overall point is solid, but it seems the writer isn’t overly familiar with the gun rights debate as it’s been waged over the last decade or so.
Some day in the future, when the gun control debate is entered into the history books, we may not remember names like Antonin Scalia (known significantly for his pro-Second Amendment judicial philosophy) or Jim and Sarah Brady (founders of the Brady Campaign against gun violence) as much as we remember Cody Wilson.
Although you may never have heard of him—Wilson does not possess the status and power of a Supreme Court Justice or the influence of a prominent social activist—he could end up shaping gun rights more profoundly than anyone else alive. Which is why Wired magazine declared him the 14th most dangerous person in the world. Why? Because for years, Cody Wilson has been arguing that sharing gun blueprints online is an activity fully protected under the U.S. Constitution. More importantly, on July 10th, 2018, the federal government agreed. In a landmark settlement between Wilson and the Department of Justice, the DOJ conceded that “forbidding Wilson from posting his 3-D-printable [gun] data… was not only violating his right to bear arms but [also] his right to freely share information.” By arguing that his 3D gun blueprints were protected under both the First and Second Amendment, Wilson may have opened Pandora’s box.
From its beginning, the gun control debate relied on the assumption that gun control was possible. Prior to now, that assumption has gone untested because government has always exerted some control over the means of production and distribution of firearms. Whether that was accomplished through regulation of corporate gun manufacturers or by restricting transactions in firearm stores and outlets, the government traditionally had various means to impose political will over the process of acquiring a firearm.
What makes Cody Wilson’s legal victory so consequential is that it raises a new, important question for public policy analysts and government regulators to consider: how do you control the means of production of firearms when it will soon exist in each and every household? Although there is some debate on this point, the answer appears to be that at the most extreme it will be impossible or, at the least that it will be incredibly difficult. Without a doubt, a lot more guns will be entering our society.
Now, I get the thrill of understanding that 3D printing technology, along with the proliferation of the required files, effectively kills gun control, but let’s also be fair here. We’ve been debating whether gun control was possible for a long time now.
In fact, for many of us, our entire argument has been that gun control is virtually impossible because the criminals circumvent the law to buy guns in the first place, thus putting the burden solely on law-abiding gun owners.
This isn’t a new thing. The writer, a sophomore in college, didn’t stumble on a new way to debate gun rights. It’s a way we’ve been debating it for some time now.
That leads me to wonder when the writer became interested in discussing the Second Amendment and gun control. Has this change in technology led the writer to recognize the futility of gun control? If so, will this recognition become widespread?
Interesting questions that I don’t have an answer for, but I can hope that this does represent a new trend. If so, the vehemence of the anti-gunners will turn out to be nothing more than a death rattle, which would be great for all of us.