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A Landmark Legal Shift Opens Pandora’s Box for DIY Guns

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  • A Landmark Legal Shift Opens Pandora’s Box for DIY Guns

    The law caught up. Less than a week later, Wilson received a letter from the US State Department demanding that he take down his printable-gun blueprints or face prosecution for violating federal export controls. Under an obscure set of US regulations known as the International Trade in Arms Regulations (ITAR), Wilson was accused of exporting weapons without a license, just as if he'd shipped his plastic gun to Mexico rather than put a digital version of it on the internet. He took Defcad.com offline, but his lawyer warned him that he still potentially faced millions of dollars in fines and years in prison simply for having made the file available to overseas downloaders for a few days. "I thought my life was over," Wilson says.

    Instead, Wilson has spent the last years on an unlikely project for an anarchist: Not simply defying or skirting the law but taking it to court and changing it. In doing so, he has now not only defeated a legal threat to his own highly controversial gunsmithing project. He may have also unlocked a new era of digital DIY gunmaking that further undermines gun control across the United States and the world—another step toward Wilson's imagined future where anyone can make a deadly weapon at home with no government oversight.

    Two months ago, the Department of Justice quietly offered Wilson a settlement to end a lawsuit he and a group of co-plaintiffs have pursued since 2015 against the United States government. Wilson and his team of lawyers focused their legal argument on a free speech claim: They pointed out that by forbidding Wilson from posting his 3-D-printable data, the State Department was not only violating his right to bear arms but his right to freely share information. By blurring the line between a gun and a digital file, Wilson had also successfully blurred the lines between the Second Amendment and the First.
    "If code is speech, the constitutional contradictions are evident," Wilson explained to WIRED when he first launched the lawsuit in 2015. "So what if this code is a gun?”

    The Department of Justice's surprising settlement, confirmed in court documents earlier this month, essentially surrenders to that argument. It promises to change the export control rules surrounding any firearm below .50 caliber—with a few exceptions like fully automatic weapons and rare gun designs that use caseless ammunition—and move their regulation to the Commerce Department, which won't try to police technical data about the guns posted on the public internet. In the meantime, it gives Wilson a unique license to publish data about those weapons anywhere he chooses.

    "I consider it a truly grand thing," Wilson says. "It will be an irrevocable part of political life that guns are downloadable, and we helped to do that."
    Now Wilson is making up for lost time. Later this month, he and the nonprofit he founded, Defense Distributed, are relaunching their website Defcad.com as a repository of firearm blueprints they've been privately creating and collecting, from the original one-shot 3-D-printable pistol he fired in 2013 to AR-15 frames and more exotic DIY semi-automatic weapons. The relaunched site will be open to user contributions, too; Wilson hopes it will soon serve as a searchable, user-generated database of practically any firearm imaginable.
    All of that will be available to anyone anywhere in the world with an uncensored internet connection, to download, alter, remix, and fabricate into lethal weapons with tools like 3-D printers and computer-controlled milling machines. “We’re doing the encyclopedic work of collecting this data and putting it into the commons,” Wilson says. “What’s about to happen is a Cambrian explosion of the digital content related to firearms.” He intends that database, and the inexorable evolution of homemade weapons it helps make possible, to serve as a kind of bulwark against all future gun control, demonstrating its futility by making access to weapons as ubiquitous as the internet.

    Of course, that mission seemed more relevant when Wilson first began dreaming it up, before a political party with no will to rein in America’s gun death epidemic held control of Congress, the White House, and likely soon the Supreme Court. But Wilson still sees Defcad as an answer to the resurgent gun control movement that has emerged in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting that left 17 students dead in February.

    The potential for his new site, if it functions as Wilson hopes, would also go well beyond even the average Trump supporter’s taste in gun rights. The culture of homemade, unregulated guns it fosters could make firearms available to even those people who practically every American agrees shouldn’t possess them: felons, minors, and the mentally ill. The result could be more cases like that of John Zawahiri, an emotionally disturbed 25-year-old who went on a shooting spree in Santa Monica, California, with a homemade AR-15 in 2015, killing five people, or Kevin Neal, a Northern California man who killed five people with AR-15-style rifles—some of which were homemade—last November.

    "This should alarm everyone," says Po Murray, chairwoman of Newtown Action Alliance, a Connecticut-focused gun control group created in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2013. "We’re passing laws in Connecticut and other states to make ensure these weapons of war aren’t getting into the hands of dangerous people. They’re working in the opposite direction."

    When reporters and critics have repeatedly pointed out those potential consequences of Wilson's work over the last five years, he has argued that he’s not seeking to arm criminals or the insane or to cause the deaths of innocents. But nor is he moved enough by those possibilities to give up what he hopes could be, in a new era of digital fabrication, the winning move in the battle over access to guns.

    With his new legal victory and the Pandora's box of DIY weapons it opens, Wilson says he's finally fulfilling that mission. “All this Parkland stuff, the students, all these dreams of ‘common sense gun reforms'? No. The internet will serve guns, the gun is downloadable.” Wilson says now. “No amount of petitions or die-ins or anything else can change that."
    In the meantime, selling Ghost Gunners has been a lucrative business. Defense Distributed has sold roughly 6,000 of the desktop devices to DIY gun enthusiasts across the country, mostly for $1,675 each, netting millions in profit. The company employs 15 people and is already outgrowing its North Austin headquarters. But Wilson says he's never been interested in money or building a startup for its own sake. He now claims that the entire venture was created with a singular goal: to raise enough money to wage his legal war against the US State Department.
    https://www.wired.com/story/a-landma...-for-diy-guns/

    Do it yourself firearms are the wave of the future and the internet will ensure that wave reaches all over the world. Pretty odd that a millennial anarchist would be a Second Amendment defender, but hey, the less bipartisan, the better the support.

    Also judging by how much the gun control crowd is panicking over it, it's a good sign of things to come.

  • #2
    US government drops prohibition on files for 3D printed arms

    Last week the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of State settled a lawsuit and agreed to end their prior restraint of distribution of computer files for the production of 3D printed firearms.

    The "International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)" are a collection of regulations covering the export of military weapons from the United States. The regulations are based on the 1976 Arms Export Control Act. The ITAR export controls apply to all arms on the U.S. Munitions List ["USML"], which is created by the State Department. An ITAR export permit costs at least $2,250 annually. Starting in 2012, the Department of Defense issued regulations asserting that many U.S. gunsmiths are required to obtain ITAR export permits even if they never export anything. Details are available on the website of Prince Law Offices, P.C., which specializes in firearms commerce regulation.

    Under the Obama administration, the U.S. Munitions List grew to include many ordinary firearms, as well as the computer files for 3D printing of ordinary firearms. In 2015, a lawsuit against the ban on distributing 3D printing files within the U.S. was brought by the Second Amendment Foundation (a civil rights litigation organization) and by Defense Distributed (a producer of 3D printing files). Plaintiffs' attorneys included Alan Gura (winner of the Heller and McDonald cases) and Josh Blackman (law professor at South Texas College of Law). There were many arguments in the case, but the principle one was that ban constituted a prior restraint of speech, contrary to the First Amendment.
    The U.S. government prevailed in the District Court, and before a Fifth Circuit panel. A petition for rehearing en banc was rejected by a 9-5 vote. Fifth Circuit Judges voting to grant the petition were Jones, Smith, Clement, Owen, and Elrod. Voting against the petition were Stewart, Jolly, Dennis, Prado, Southwick, Haynes, Graves, Higginson, and Costa. In January 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition for certiorari. Documents in the case are available here.

    However, in May 2018, the Trump administration proposed revising revise the ITAR regulations. The move for regulatory reform actually began under the Obama administration, but the proposed reforms were never published. Now they have been. Export controls for many ordinary firearms and accessories will be removed from the ITAR list. Exports of such items will instead by controlled by the Department of Commerce. Among the items remaining under the ITAR system are automatic firearms, firearms of greater than .50 caliberr, magazines with more than 50 rounds, and sound moderators (a/k/a "silencers"). Non-automatic firearms of.50 caliber or less will no longer be covered under ITAR; among the firearms no longer under ITAR is the semiautomatic AR-15 rifle, the most common rifle in American history. Its typical calibers are .223 and .308--well under the new .50+ caliber rule.

    Accordingly, the government defendants revisited the Defense Distributed case. If a particular arm (e.g., the AR-15) is no longer part of ITAR, then it would be illogical for ITAR to be applied to instructions for making the arm. Under today's settlement agreement, plaintiffs and others may freely publish 3D printing instructions for firearms that are not covered under ITAR. Restrictions on distribution of 3D printing information for items that are still under ITAR, such as machine guns or rifles over .50 caliber, remain in place.
    SAF, Dept. of Justice Settle Defense Distributed First Amendment Lawsuit
    Now, however, in a press release from attorney Josh Blackman, it appears that Defense Distributed and SAF have reached a very advantageous settlement with the Department of Justice. And the release contains this paragraph:
    Significantly, the government expressly acknowledges that non-automatic firearms up to .50-caliber – including modern semi-auto sporting rifles such as the popular AR-15 and similar firearms – are not inherently military.
    That distant sound you hear are heads exploding on the anti-gun left.
    http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/201...dment-lawsuit/



    Start your printers gents.

    Comment


    • #3
      Can you print an artificial hand ?

      Not against the idea but it's nothing to be toyed with lightly .

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by HisRoyalHighness View Post
        Pretty odd that a millennial anarchist would be a Second Amendment defender.
        you'll find most true Anarchists are devout followers of the Constitution
        We’re passing laws in Connecticut and other states to make ensure these weapons of war aren’t getting into the hands of dangerous people. They’re working in the opposite direction."
        so....wait it's illegal for me to own a P-51 in Connecticut?? or is it illegal for trigger happy bad cops to have an MRAP? State law will dictate we cant send arms to the Middle East? I'm confused....

        Last edited by sgt_g; 10-07-2018, 05:52 PM.

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        • #5
          It's not a legal precedent though is it? Just an agreement that the ITAR restrictions won't apply to certain (most) firearms.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by TheKiwi View Post
            It's not a legal precedent though is it? Just an agreement that the ITAR restrictions won't apply to certain (most) firearms.
            True, but I think of it as the initial stage of DIY firearm revolution and potentially the start of gun control being rolled back if the Supreme Court nomination goes smoothly.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Kilgor View Post
              Can you print an artificial hand ?

              Not against the idea but it's nothing to be toyed with lightly .

              actually it's been done
              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cl8ijPGEKO8

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