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Preserving The Second Amendment: Printing The Plastic Gun

We live firmly in the world of the information age. These days people can be connected 24/7 to the neighbor next door, to a friend in Greece, or to soldiers in Afghanistan. The Internet is an infinite abyss of information, and it is said that once something is on the Internet, it can never be deleted. The Internet is the ultimate expression of free speech and the First Amendment, but what can the Internet do for the Second Amendment?

Defense Distributed, a nonprofit, collaborative project with the aim to produce firearms plans for free to anyone, wants to make firearms available to any person with an Internet connection and a 3-D printer. If you are not familiar with a 3-D printer, it is most simply explained as a printer that can take a 3-D digital model and replicate it in the real world as a plastic model. While 3-D printers are somewhat rare, they are slowly becoming more and more popular, and hobby models are now on the market.

Defense Distributed is designing firearms that can be printed from any 3-D printer. They are producing two firearms, an A and B model. The A model has no moving pieces, but the B model does. They have also produced an AR-15 lower receiver made entirely of plastic. Since the government only classifies the lower receiver as the serialized firearm, this allows someone to print the lower receiver and then assemble it from aftermarket, unrestricted parts.

I am not an engineer by any means, so if in your head you’re asking me how does it work, will it work, and what the tolerances are, I’d have to say I honestly can’t answer. Defense Distributed claims the final project will be safe to fire and chambered in different rounds. As of now, the weapons will be chambered in .22 long rifle, but Defense Distributed hasn’t released a great many additional details about the guns yet.

I took a long time thinking about this—whether any person (an average citizen or crazy loon) should be able to print a gun. It became clear to me that this is the beginning of the guarantee of our Second Amendment rights thanks to the clear protection of our First Amendment rights.

The argument exists that nut jobs will print an arsenal at home and commit chaos. A quick Google search can reveal plenty of plans to make “zip” guns, yet I cannot recall many, if any, crimes being committed with zip guns.

As American citizens we must realize that terrible things can happen, and oftentimes someone will claim our freedom is at fault. Many people find it easier to blame inanimate objects than admit some people are truly disturbed and evil. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Those who give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

A minor argument that can come forward from this development is how it will affect the gun industry. I honestly don’t think it will affect the gun industry at all; these weapons are not complicated autoloaders or powerful reliable weapons. If cheap one- or two-shot .22 long rifle pistols can hurt the gun industry, then Cobray derringers would be top sellers.

The potential for this system is hardly limited, however. Once the files and plans for these weapons are released, people will begin to modify and adapt them. The power of the Internet is a wonderful thing. The minds that become connected can make truly fascinating things happen.

These plans have the ability to create an entire new generation of shooters, which can be both a curse and a blessing. Gun culture only exists as long as we have a new generation of shooters and voters. If these plastic guns are available to people who would have never spent the money on a real gun, and we can show them the merits of owning a firearm, we have won over new shooters. The curse of these weapons is the people that are uneducated and ignorant of firearms and firearms safety. I would hate to see people become victims of negligent discharge due to ignorance. I certainly do not want any one hurt or killed.

The most positive aspect of this project is that it can be the death strike at gun control and the government’s ability to disarm free people. A government can create laws, can register guns, and then takes those guns, and because some misguided citizens believe guns are evil, they have the potential to get away with it. Banning information and free speech is an entirely different situation. Those same people who can accept the banning of firearms will not accept limiting their First Amendment rights.

If Defense Distributed is successful, then they may have very well guaranteed the right to bear arms forever. It is not too far out there to assume that Defense Distributed can even introduce or re-introduce the ability to bear arms in countries that have restricted the right to firearms ownership.

I do see a potential rain cloud for this project, and it has to do with the AR-15 lower receiver I mentioned earlier. The government gun grabbers are already wary of the scary black rifle, no matter if it’s only semi-automatic. I can already see the legislative squirming when they hear that anyone can print a lower receiver and build an AR-15 without any government interference. So what can they do about it? One easy solution is that they can change the pieces of the gun that are regulated, making it much more difficult for people to build any kind of AR-15.

Defense Distributed is set to change the world when they finish development of their product. I’m sure between now and then they will meet stiff resistance. However, freedom is not only a right of the people, but a responsibility. In the same way ignorance can be bliss, freedom can be a burden. Defense Distributed faces an uphill climb, and as free Americans and responsible adults, we should stand behind them. The government hasn’t the right to treat us as children and limit our rights, and this could very well be our guarantee that we will never be disarmed.

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