3d printed firearms

Well, that was fast.  I didn't even have time to post a link to the original design files before the State Department ordered them taken down, citing arms export regulations.  For those with long memories, it's very reminiscent of the fight over cryptography during the Clinton administration. 

The good guys won that fight, but it took years, and a lot of legal risk, and finally a fait-accompli strategy of publishing the source code to Pretty Good Privacy in a printed book, sending the book out of the country, where some tireless soul typed it back in and hosted it outside of US jurisdiction.  And that was First Amendment issue with clearly settled law.  Adding firearms issues into the mix is only going to make it more complicated.

The good news is that the file has already made it outside the US to various hosting locations.  The bad news is, that doesn't mean the fight is over.  Anyone hosting the file inside US jurisdiction is likely to become a target for lawyers in cheap suits.  They have lots of ways to attack this particular project; they've chosen to start with "posting the design on the internet is a violation of arms export regulations", but they could go after it for being an undetectable plastic gun, for not having a rifled barrel making it an NFA-regulated Any Other Weapon, for manufacturing a firearm without a license (the rules on this are tricky; it may be legal to print one for yourself if you never, ever let anyone else touch it)...

Remember when gun control groups kept saying that teddy bears are more heavily regulated than guns?  Yeah, about that...

So why aren't I hosting the files?  Well, I certainly believe that people in the US have both a First and Second Amendment right to host design files for printable firearms.  That doesn't mean that the present administration agrees, and it has already indicated that it will enforce that view. 

At any rate, if you're inside US jurisdiction, you don't want to be the guy they pick to prosecute.  No matter how stupid the laws are.  Anyone hosting the files while located in the US had better do so with the support of well-prepared lawyers and an organization like the EFF prepared to back a court challenge.

This entry was published Tue May 14 08:18:34 CDT 2013 by TriggerFinger and last updated 2013-05-14 08:18:34.0. [Tweet]

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