back to article Defense Distributed starts selling gun CAD files amid court drama

A day after a US federal judge extended an injunction barring Cody Wilson and his company Defense Distributed from giving away 3D CAD files of gun designs on the internet, Wilson held a press conference in Austin, Texas, to declare that he has begun selling the files through his company's website. "Early this morning we began …

  1. bobajob12

    Cute, but not for long

    I happen to think the defendant is a loon, but this sort of case was never going to fly. The Internet, notoriously, interprets censorship as damage and routes around it. Doesn't matter whether the 'censorship' is 'good' or 'bad'.

    The really interesting cases will start when people start making these guns and hurting themselves or others. I predict an upswing in hand and facial injuries as the first experimenters discover that machining parts to close tolerances is, uh, quite important if you want that explosive projectile to go in the direction you want.

    1. King Jack

      Re: Cute, but not for long

      3D gun plans have been out for years. I doubt a new wave of idiot will rise up as it's been done before.

      Look on YouTube, the videos are 5 years old.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Cute, but not for long

        "3D gun plans have been out for years"

        And idiots have been making guns out of odd shit ever since they laid their hands on gunpowder or compressed air,

        The story is only unverifiable because the people supposedly involved won't say anything about it (+) but in the 1950s at my high school there was a fad for making .22 single shot pistols out of fountain pens which only stopped when a pupil(*) was accidentally shot with one(**) during some horsing during a chemistry class(***)

        (+) As in "refuse to confirm or deny". The shooting and subsequent crackdown on dangerous metalwork projects made the local paper though.

        (*) now a prominent retired local medic and parent of one of my classmates

        (**) Supposedly by my 1980s 4th form chemistry teacher(++)

        (***) This was a school where we made ammonium triiodide booby traps under adult(?) supervision and where a teacher(+++) split the school swimming pool open using a "substantial quantitity" of sodium wrapped in newspaper during a demonstration (it was eventually paved over after 15 years of failed repair attempts)

        (++) Yes, it was the kind of school where ex-pupils returned after university PhDs to teach chemistry... and other things.

        (+++) Not the same teacher. This guy was mad as a box of frogs (in a good way) and inspired a lot of people to take up science careers. He was (of course) also an ex-pupil.

        1. ivan5

          Re: Cute, but not for long

          @Alan Brown

          That was then. Today's culture requires that all kids be wrapped on cotton wool and bubble wrap so the nasty world doesn't intrude. Actual learning about how things work by doing and being taught to think are now anathema to the liberals. Children must be brainwashed into correct thinking, anyone with independent thought is considered a deviant and must be drugged into submission.

        2. J. Cook Silver badge

          Re: Cute, but not for long

          THIS.

          People were making 'zip guns' in high school shop class for longer than I've been alive (40+ years) and looong before the internet was around.

          And for what it's worth, people are *still* making functional (and safer!) firearms using materials commonly found at most hardware stores, using tools bought from the same place.

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Cute, but not for long

      "as the first experimenters discover that machining parts to close tolerances is, uh, quite important"

      Even low-cost 3D printers can do tight tolerances (mine can handle tolerances around 150 microns, and mine is also nothing special -- more expensive printers can do much better). The issue with 3D printed guns isn't the tolerances, it's the materials. Even the toughest materials available for use with consumer-level 3D printers aren't able to handle the heat and pressure enough to survive more than a single shot.

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Re: Cute, but not for long

        Unfortunately, few guns are ever required to survive even the first shot in order to kill someone.

        The problem is not that designs exist... you can make a gun out of a bit of tube if you care enough to.

        The problem is that you'll never get an accurate weapon, and it'll turn into an even-more-indiscriminate killing tool.

        Honestly, if you wanted to "make something yourself", you'd do more damage to the intended target by throwing a dart at them.

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Cute, but not for long

          "Unfortunately, few guns are ever required to survive even the first shot in order to kill someone."

          I don't think that's true, unless you're a marksman and/or you're firing a large caliber round.

          1. joeldillon

            Re: Cute, but not for long

            Or you're at point blank range.

        2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

          Re: Cute, but not for long

          The problem is the barrel stress and poorly made/maintained barrels have been to blow up when fired. To use these plans to make a gun requires access to a machine shop complete with the proper equipment to heat treat the parts. Plus one has to start with the correct alloys. I doubt there it is economically for someone to DIY gunsmithing at home. It would be far cheaper to buy one.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Cute, but not for long

            @ A_yank_lurker and "It would be far cheaper to buy one"

            True but when you buy one you are then then bound to the weapon assuming that the vetting doesn't ban you from purchase, weapons you can make are anonymous and without any vetting.

            How many criminals and loons already pay more for weapons simply for the anonymity and bypassing of "gun control"

            1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

              Re: Cute, but not for long

              How many criminals and loons already pay more for weapons simply for the anonymity and bypassing of "gun control"

              Not as many as you'd think. Most criminals don't pay that much for guns since they're typically stolen so the acquisition cost is zero. According to this article much of the price depends on the history of the gun. For instance if it's been used in a murder it has a lower price than a "clean" gun and straw bought guns will necessarily cost more than stolen guns. I'd guess that given the price differential that straw bought guns have it is likely that they are primarily used by well funded gangs and only reach common circulation once they're "dirty".

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Cute, but not for long

            The point about barrel stress is a good one, but unfortunately is slightly besides the point. Many gun components can be bought and sold in the USA without any restrictions whatsoever. IIRC, the sticking point for building your own AR-15 out of spare parts is obtaining a lower receiver, which is strictly controlled (it's the piece that carries the gun's serial number). This is the only piece you actually need to fabricate yourself in order to obtain your own unlicensed AR-15 with no documentation trail.

            I'm no gun expert, but I have my suspicions that the receiver isn't subjected to the stresses that the gun barrel is subjected to during firing, and therefore a CNC-fabricated version may be good enough to last for a while - e.g. the duration of a mass shooting.

            1. J. Cook Silver badge

              Re: Cute, but not for long

              @ Anon, re: AR-15 lowers

              The lower receiver houses the fire control group (trigger assembly), magazine well, grip, and stock. the Upper receiver is what handles all the pressure, and what the barrel fits into. (most people building an AR rifle buy completed, barreled upper assemblies, IIRC.)

              While I didn't build my own AR style rifle, I did assemble one from parts purchased from a couple sources, including a 'stripped' lower receiver (which had to go through the same channels as if I was buying a fully completed, functional firearm) from a reputable manufacturer.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Cute, but not for long

                @ J. Cook

                Thanks for the response, seems I wasn't too far off.

                It seems that the only aspect of actual control over AR-15s is in the measures used to document the supply of lower receivers, whether that be as a stripped part or in the form of a complete weapon. So the concern about CNC designs being made available to allow anyone with the appropriate equipment available to make as many of them as they want is a real one.

                Of course, whether you think this is important or not will tend to be coloured by the individual's support for gun control in general, which might explain why this case is generating so much debate. From a non-US viewpoint the prospect of making these weapons readily available seems completely crazy, but it's not my circus.

                I do at least understand how the US came to this position, i.e. why the 2nd amendment exists in the first place. Even the 2008 SC judgement that consolidated the free for all that people assumed the 2nd represented makes a certain kind of sense - any other decision would have deprived a lot of americans of the guns they already owned. Never going to fly.

          3. jelabarre59 Silver badge

            Re: Cute, but not for long

            Ask the French Resistanca about the "Liberator" pistol. Cranked out in large numbers from stamped parts, with the clips essentially built-in, then air-dropped over France. They didn't need to last long, just long enough to kill some members of the invading forces, then take *their* weapons.

            Always an important part of defending your liberties is the ability to make things very difficult and painful for the enemy.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Cute, but not for long

        "mine can handle tolerances around 150 microns"

        It depends on the area of application but would 1/8 mm count as a close tolerance in small arms manufacture?

      3. Calin Brabandt

        Re: Cute, but not for long

        I assume that you have a FFF/FDM printer, which are popular with hobbyists. You overstate its capabilities. Sure--it can lay down 0.150 mm layers (z-resolution) but the x/y resolution is far, far worse. Plastic oozing from even the smallest available nozzle orifice (and the smallest ones are slow and unreliable) just isn't very precise and the result is far lower resolution than your stepper motor steps (and the motors are using a somewhat sloppy analog/digital design trick called "microstepping" so don't believe the x/y specs you read as good as gold either). Then you have the problem of plastic shrinkage and warping with cooling. Yeah--and affordable personal 3D printer is good enough for a functional AR lower (usually after a few trials and errors like most anything 3-D printed) but nothing like what you could do with a hobby milling machine.

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Cute, but not for long

          "Sure--it can lay down 0.150 mm layers (z-resolution) but the x/y resolution is far, far worse."

          No, I was talking about x/y tolerances. With the things I design and print, I achieve 0.15mm tolerances in those dimensions routinely. I can get even tighter tolerances if I take the time to tune the printer immediately before the print, and print more slowly than usual.

      4. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Cute, but not for long

        "mine can handle tolerances around 150 microns"

        What have you made with it John?

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Cute, but not for long

          I've made all sorts of thing that require such tolerances, but primarily I make cases for my electronics and robotics projects. I need the tolerances for those to be tight in order to make them snap-fit without slop.

    3. takyon
      Devil

      Re: Cute, but not for long

      Why do you think he's a loon? Perhaps you don't have the equivalent of America's First and Second Amendment rights wherever you live?

      Having followed the actions of Cody Wilson for years now, I'd say that a loon couldn't come up with a long-term legal strategy as clever as he has. He is fighting for freedom of speech, and this fight has implications for more than just guns. Think about sharing "dangerous" chemistry or biology plans/knowledge.

      I have to applaud EFF for "sticking to their guns" in this case. If people don't want to donate to Wilson (by "buying" these files that are already freely available elsewhere, for example), then they should kick some money towards EFF instead.

  2. Mark 85 Silver badge

    He's more concerned about downloadable files for CNC machines

    Like that will stop anyone. There's more CNC mills* in the US than this guy apparently thinks there are. I suppose banning them will be the next attempt?

    *There's probably more "hobby" CNC mills than commercial ones. By that, I mean in private hands in someone's basement/garage/home workshop than the commercial ones used by industry.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      "There's probably more "hobby" CNC mills than commercial ones"

      Could be. In my area, there are four machine shops that have CNC mills. I personally know more individuals who own their own CNC mills than that. I (and my friends) are hardly representative of the general population, but I suspect we're pretty typical for those in the "maker" community.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        This isn't really distributing cad files for any CNC home machinist.

        He sells a machine which is only made for machining the restricted part of an AR15 and the files to run it.

        It's like in Iraq war when Matrix Churchill claimed they were just selling machine tools - when their own DRM prevented them making anything other than the artillery shells there were programmed for.

        Or when during prohibition the vineyards would sell kits of concentrated grape juice with the warning "do not add contents to x lbs of sugar and y gallons of water and keep in a warm place for t days because an alcohol beverage will be produced"

        1. takyon

          Ghost Gunner

          The "Ghost Gunner" can make other stuff (it is described as "general purpose"), and other CNC mills can do the exact same thing. It was just user-friendly for the purpose of creating lower receivers out of unfinished "20% lowers". It may have been overpriced and thus should be considered partly a donation to Wilson.

          The products that Wilson sells earn him money to fund the legal fights that inevitably ensue. The end goal is to get a favorable Supreme Court ruling.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Ghost Gunner

            "The products that Wilson sells earn him money to fund the legal fights that inevitably ensue. "

            Will it also be able to fund him when the inevitable happens: someone is killed or injured by one of these weapons and he gets sued to oblivion?

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "In my area, there are four machine shops that have CNC mills."

        In 1998, ONE of my customers in a town of 75k people had 12 CNC mills and was steadily buying more as expansion permitted.

        As he explained it - the more he had, the more readily they were instantly available for (lucrative) contract work - and when they weren't doing contract work they were loaded up with 50mm stainless steel rod, profitably turning out automotive towballs if they only did that 6 hours per day, let alone running 24*7*365 less downtime for maintenance.

        On the one hand a full blown 3 axis CNC mill is overkill for making towballs. On the other hand that's only what they were doing when they weren't otherwise occupied.

        I'll warrant there are a lot more shops like that around the world now than there were 20 years ago.

  3. David Gillies

    Magical thinking

    It's legal to make guns in the US. Always has been. You can build your own 3-axis CNC machine for $1000 or so, and mill a lower receiver or a trigger group to a few tens of microns tolerance. It's well within the capabilities of a hobby machinist to rifle his own barrels. Steel of a suitable grade for a gun barrel is available mail order. There are hundreds of people with maker channels on YouTube who have the requisite skillset to manufacture a firearm, which means thousands or tens of thousands total. How many guns are made by hobbyists a year? Unknown, but certainly a lot. How many have been used in the commission of a crime? If the number isn't zero, it's as close to zero as to make no difference. The intersection of the set of people who make guns and the set of people who use them to commit crimes is the empty set, as near as dammit. The people who make Viking battleaxes and two foot-long Bowie knives in their home forges aren't driving round on mopeds stabbing people.

    Lawyers and politicians trying to stop hobby firearms manufacture are either ignorant or disingenuous. Claiming that gun crime will be lowered if gun blueprints are restricted is magical thinking.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Magical thinking

      "The intersection of the set of people who make guns and the set of people who use them to commit crimes is the empty set"

      I agree entirely. I'm a USian who is very much in favor of gun control -- but this particular effort strikes me as a stupid waste of time that doesn't address the gun problem even a little. People who want a gun to commit a crime are not going to make one -- that's a lot more time and hassle than just buying one on the street or at a gun show.

    2. takyon
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Magical thinking

      Hypothetically, if you have background checks and other gun controls in place, the CNC mill becomes a viable way of getting around gun control. Some people would not make it past strict background checks. Make using the CNC mill as user-friendly as possible, and anyone can make a gun as long as they have that $1,000 and can watch a couple of tutorials.

      It's not a threat right now because it's far easier and cheaper to just go out and buy a gun, or buy a gun from a private seller who doesn't bother with any checks. Just like how not too many people have trouble getting cannabis in this country despite it being a Schedule I controlled substance (this was true even before the recent wave of state recreational and medical legalization). I don't think the lack of a serial number is too relevant either.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Magical thinking

        The UK has very (perhaps excessively) strict firearms controls, and it turns out that people do occasionally try to reactivate or even manufacture firearms for criminal enterprise.

        Whenever they succeed, they are found and shut down relatively quickly, primarily because the strict gun controls mean that firearms crimes are incredibly rare.

        An illegally imported firearm is probably much harder to trace than a home-made one, as it's likely to be one of a much larger batch.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Magical thinking

          But banning hacksaws is the only way to prevent bank robberies with sawn-off shotguns

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Magical thinking

            "But banning hacksaws is the only way to prevent bank robberies with sawn-off shotguns"

            Close but no cigar. Banning shotguns would be another way. If you don't have a shotgun to saw off your hacksaw is harmless.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Magical thinking

        "Just like how not too many people have trouble getting cannabis in this country despite it being a Schedule I controlled substance (this was true even before the recent wave of state recreational and medical legalization)"

        The more interesting unsaid part of that paragraph is that in areas where legalisation has occurred, access to cannabis by underage users has pretty much been completely cut off - vendors do NOT wish to risk their licenses (unlike your average illegal street dealer who doesn't care), people have found they're less exposed to being aggressively marketed (or "gifted"(*)) substances they don't want AND they know what they're getting in terms of actual strength. (interestingly, actual honest to god stoners seem to be getting decent assistance with their mental health problems too)

        (*) One of my friends was a victim of "unwanted extras" being laced into his purchase. The dealer thought it was funny. My friend didn't - he and 3 people ended up in ER with major panic attacks thanks to an unwitting dose of "P" and not knowing WTF was happening.

        The average violent criminal is an opportunist who picked up a gun for $100-200 or less. They're not going to have the time or patience to setup a 3D printer to do this shit - and in countries with stronger gun controls there's already a cottage industry of underground gunsmiths making illegal weapons from untraceable parts for those who want them. They may buy a 3D printer to make things faster but the average thug is still going to go to his local armourer for a weapon, not try and make it himself - apart from anything else, a gun is no use without anything to fire and ammunition sales are usually also controlled/monitored with batches being traceable.

        This is mostly a free speech issue but married to the US 2nd amendment penis extension fanaticism and people wanting to be the next Timothy McVeigh/Unabomber floating around you have a potentially explosive mixture.There's a valid point in there (thought crimes and censorship) but it's all pretty muddled up. and the more extremely the US waltzes into outright authoritarianism the more extreme the voices on the other end become too.

        1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

          Re: Magical thinking

          in areas where legalisation has occurred, access to cannabis by underage users has pretty much been completely cut off

          Actually, not so much in Cali. Granted that's largely a byproduct of Cali politicians' odd way of thinking they're in for a monetary windfall but fail to understand that large taxes on the newly legal product means it winds up costing more than the going street price so there isn't much incentive to switch to the legal vendors. Now the cops are really just acting as armed tax collectors.

          Of course in Cali where gun control laws are some of the tightest in the nation it already creates a profitable opportunity for a cottage industry. Heck, it's so lucrative it seems everyone from politicians to police are in on the gun running. It does make one wonder where all the police's missing guns are going.

  4. Chris G Silver badge

    In general I am pro gun, I like shooting, did military training and have spent many a Sunday morning shooting pigeons and bunnies, however, I think this guy is a prize dyed in the wool fuckwit.

    If someone shot him with one of his download products, I would appreciate the irony.

    1. takyon
      FAIL

      oath.wav

      He's fighting for our First Amendment rights. Are you?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: oath.wav

        "He's fighting for our First Amendment rights."

        AKA the right to get shot. Why would anyone want that?

      2. Velv Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: oath.wav

        He's fighting for our First Amendment rights. Are you?

        With rights come responsibilities. You may think you need the right to distribute these files, but you also have a moral responsibility to ensure the safety of your fellow citizens. If he was a Muslim distributing the files would he still have the same rights? What if it was instructions to make a dirt bomb or nerve agent to kill a city would you stand by his "first amendment right"?

        1. tom dial Silver badge

          Re: oath.wav

          "If he was a Muslim distributing the files would he still have the same rights?"

          If he were a *US Person* and a Muslim, then yes, he certainly would have the same rights - as required by the first clause of the same first amendment.

    2. DryBones

      If that happened, he should have bought a lotto ticket.

      https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/08/27/3d_gun_injunction/

      Shove off, nobody actually up to no good is going to do this. It's a hobbyist/maker thing.

  5. MeowMix69

    Absolute Moron

    What an idiot. Not only is this a gross violation of gun safety laws, but this will 100% directly contribute to deaths and this absolute wanker will 100% get sued into the ground when it happens. America. Get me the fuck out of here.

    1. takyon
      Thumb Down

      Re: Absolute Moron

      "gross violation of gun safety laws"

      Citation? It's legal to make your own guns in America. It's free speech to share blueprints, plans, codes, and knowledge in America. You could draw up a hydrogen bomb design and share that if you want. Since the United States v. Progressive, Inc. case (concerning the hydrogen bomb) was dropped, nobody has been prosecuted for doing so.

      "this will 100% directly contribute to deaths"

      Maybe not for a long time, or at all. Printed/milled guns are currently a niche pursuit. It's easier and cheaper to just go buy a reliable gun. And it shouldn't be hard to find someone who will sell one to you, no questions asked. And as long as the Second Amendment remains intact, there will be ways to acquire a gun.

      "this absolute wanker will 100% get sued into the ground when it happens"

      Or, bolstered by the many donations he's received as well as sales of CNC mills, merch, etc., he will take on any legal challenges, which will be promptly thrown out due to having no standing. Just like when people try to sue the gun store. Except Wilson's hands are even cleaner than that. He is just providing information, not guns.

      "America. Get me the fuck out of here."

      https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/travel-legal-considerations/us-citizenship/Renunciation-US-Nationality-Abroad.html

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Absolute Moron

        " It's legal to make your own guns in America"

        As long as you register as a gunsmith. There's even a well-established procedure to do so.

        In other countries the rules may be quite different.

        1. Is It Me

          Re: Absolute Moron

          My understanding is it is completely legal in the US to make your own guns as long as you don't sell or give them away.

          I think giving them to someone in your will is the only legal way to transfer ownership of a self made gun.

        2. Slow Joe Crow
          Black Helicopters

          Re: Absolute Moron

          Actually outside of the horrible cesspit of New Jersey it is completely legal to make your own guns for personal use in the US. A Federal Firearms license (FFL) is only required if you are making guns for resale. In that case you generally need an FFL 07 manufacturer's license but may be able to do onesy twosey production on an FFL 01 dealer or gunsmith license.

          On the subject of making, it's actually much less work and cost to follow the widely available US Army improvised munitions manual to build a slam fire shotgun or 9mm pipe pistol with bits from the local hardware store. 3D printing is a novelty for the moment and all the pearl clutching and First Amendment violating is just a desparate attempt by ati gunners to fan hysteria.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Absolute Moron

            They've been reading 'Makers' by Cory Doctorow...

            Much though Governments and other control freaks might wish it, you cannot uninvent firearms.

            A lot is being made of 3D printing, in plastic, but 3D in metal does exist. As for CNC mill's, who needs them, mandraulic mill's will do the same job, slower, but they will, as the Police discovered near Newbury a few years ago, the latest case in Sussex appears to have been CNC mill equipped though.

    2. Calin Brabandt

      Re: Absolute Moron

      Yes--please leave!

  6. GrumpyKiwi Silver badge

    Good on him

    He's fighting the gun-control equivalent of the "teaching abstinence is better than teaching sex-education" crowd.

    It doesn't matter how much they stick their fingers in their ears and chant "la la la, I can't hear you", the horse has left the stable, gone for a walk, found a new owner and been re-registered under a new name. No amount of bolting the stable door can change that.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Good on him

      Is he or is he just trying to get around the ban on assault rifles - or just make money from the people who think that Obama will make them marry a gay unless they own 12 assault rifles?

      Personally I think the USA should stand behind the 2nd amendment and allow citizens the same weapons as the government, nukes for all (although possibly not the ability to take them out of the country).

      It's the only way to reduce the surplus population.

      1. GrumpyKiwi Silver badge

        Re: Good on him

        Yes it is well known that the best way to make money is to release something for free.

        Also, there is no "assault weapons" ban in place anymore and hasn't been for nearly 20 years.

        As for nukes, the right to publish plans for nukes was established back in the 1970's. Good luck sourcing your own enhanced uranium though.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Good on him

        "Is he or is he just trying to get around the ban on assault rifles "

        If you want that to be effective, then simply impose limits on the barrel length and make civilian carbines (short barrel rifles) illegal along with short/pistol/folding stocks (which are banned in most places anyway).

        Carbines trade accuracy for portability and usuability in a fracas. That's why militaries favour them.

        It's hard to hide a tennessee long rifle under your jacket, which is why criminals like carbines.

        A lot of countries have these kinds of restrictions (usually something like a 27-32 inch minimum overall length depending on the bore), with shorter versions either being outright banned or subject to heavy licensing conditions. Under those conditions the receiver is a secondary consideration.

        1. Is It Me

          Re: Good on him

          In the UK the law is essentially 12/24 it must have at least a 12" barrel and be at least 24" overall.

  7. tom dial Silver badge

    This dispute seems quite a lot like the attempt to prosecute Phillip Zimmerman over PGP in that, first, the cat is well out of the bag (and in this case has been for years), and second, as is much clearer now than in the early 1990s, government attempts to suppress publication on the Internet violate the first amendment just as they would if publication is in a book or magazine.

    Moreover, the defendants' claim that the states lack standing seems right, in that the law in question, and their substantive arguments, relate to conduct of foreign affairs, which belongs to the federal government. The probability that the states could have gotten an injunction, whether permanent, temporary, or preliminary, to suppress US distribution of the code in book form is vanishingly small and likely would remain so even if sold with a CD containing the code.

    In any case, these 3D printed guns appear to be expensive but inferior substitutes for old fashioned zip guns, for which google returns "about 22,800,000 results (0.50 seconds)" when queried for plans. That, and the fact that making a gun with one's own equipment is both legal and widely possible in the US reveals the controversy to be a combination of political theater and harassment. A sensible judge might reasonably have held back from puffing it up.

    1. DryBones

      Just this. Anybody that seems to think this is anything new has never heard of zip guns, which have been about for yonks.

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      I guess the state would like to ban plumbing.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "A sensible judge might reasonably have held back from puffing it up"

      Since when has common sense been on reasonable display in USA officialdom during recent times?

      1. tom dial Silver badge

        Judge William Alsup, in Oracle v. Google surely exhibited common sense. It is unfortunate that the judges on the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit failed so miserably to do so.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'll never understand Americans and their fetish for guns

    See title.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I'll never understand Americans and their fetish for guns

      Agreed. And it's yet another reason I wouldn't want to go there.

      It poses an interesting question. Does the US represent the end-point of civilisation or is it that civilisation has yet to reach it?

      1. Potemkine! Silver badge

        Re: I'll never understand Americans and their fetish for guns

        Does the US represent the end-point of civilisation or is it that civilisation has yet to reach it?

        The US went directly from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'll never understand Americans and their fetish for guns

        Do they qualify for the Darwin awards or do they have their own section?

    2. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

      Re: I'll never understand Americans and their fetish for guns

      Nor do I but I do understand this is not about the guns. Owning guns is legal, making guns is legal, sharing knowledge is legal, sharing knowledge about making guns is legal. So why is sharing knowledge about making guns when in a format downloadable to a machine illegal? It's about what knowledge the government is going to decide it is illegal to share next.

      (I'm not arguing for or against anything)

    3. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: I'll never understand Americans and their fetish for guns

      It's not all Americans though. Only about one third of people in the US own a gun, but most of those people own multiple guns. They're a very vocal minority (and I mean vocal in the US sense of "giving lots of money to a lobbying organisation").

      And personally I can see some of the attraction. As precisely made (or not, a lot of guns seem to be terribly manufactured) mechanical devices, with interesting engineering decisions, they have a geeky appeal to me, in much the same way old cars, or teletype machines, or mainframes, or aircraft do.

      A Spitfire is as much a machine designed for killing as an AR-15 is, and there's no shortage of people wanting to see a Spit.

      1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

        Re: I'll never understand Americans and their fetish for guns

        "A Spitfire is as much a machine designed for killing as an AR-15 is, and there's no shortage of people wanting to see a Spit."

        I must have gone to different flying demos than you, since while various planes have done simulated strafing or bombing runs on the crowds, I'm fairly certain they didn't have active weapon systems. So no machines guns (in the case of the spit) means no design for killing per sec.

        It's the same way that taking guns apart and seeing how they work is quite fascinating, firing them is quite a different kind of fun.

    4. GrumpyKiwi Silver badge

      Re: I'll never understand Americans and their fetish for guns

      I really like my AR15. It is a great rifle. Easy to maintain, accurate and useful for going after goats, deer, pigs and any other medium sized game.

      It is not without reason that it is described as the best rifle of the past 60 years (with the AK being a close second).

      I also like my PS90. It's a great rifle. Easy to maintain, incredibly accurate and useful for going after possums, rabbits, geese and other such pest species.

      Am I fetishizing, or commenting on two very useful tools for hunting?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does providing the design for a 3D weapon count as "possession with intent to supply"?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Proof

    All legitimate firearms are proofed to ensure their user safety and that they will do the job when required. How many will want to proof their 3D weapon when their lives may depend on it?

    This is one of the few cases where malware could do some good. How many idiots losing their hands will it take before this nonsense stops?

  11. Ochib

    $2 space into an AK

    Who needs fancy CNC or a 3D printer when you can turn a spade in to an AK

    https://www.northeastshooters.com/xen/threads/diy-shovel-ak-photo-tsunami-warning.179192/

    1. Claptrap314 Bronze badge

      Re: $2 space into an AK

      Okay, now that was a fun trip. Even sober.....

  12. DerekCurrie Bronze badge
    Facepalm

    No, this has nothing to do with the US First Amendment, freedom of speech

    Worthless argument, thrown out of court:

    "Wilson suggested the harm being done is to the First Amendment. "The only thing that's being stopped is your right to speak," he said."

    Neither does this have anything to do with the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms.

    It's this simple: If anyone wants to provide a potentially lethal ANYTHING to anybody in the USA by ANY means, then that thing is subject to the law, be they local, state or federal. That is all. This issue will be sorted out at those levels, not at the level of the US Constitution.

    IOW: Get serious. Lethal disqualifies game playing with the law, children.

    1. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: No, this has nothing to do with the US First Amendment, freedom of speech

      The laws in place, however, restrict transfers. They do not prohibit manufacture of firearms. Anyone who wishes may argue that the restriction on transfer of weapons implicitly includes transfer of information useful in building them. I consider it extremely unlikely that such arguments will be successful despite the fact that the recent injunctions hint that a judge might be willing to buy them.

      As for the Constitution: it is worth remembering in this context that the US Constitution limits all laws, whether federal, state, or local ordinances. And that the cities of Washington, DC (a couple of times) and Chicago, IL have been slapped down over second amendment issues, and a considerable body of jurisprudence limits quite severely what may be published, including plans for such things as nuclear weapons.

      1. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: No, this has nothing to do with the US First Amendment, freedom of speech

        Unfortunate, misleading wording in the final sentence, which should have ended: "a considerable body of jurisprudence limits quite severely *government control over* what may be published, including plans for such things as nuclear weapons.

    2. GrumpyKiwi Silver badge

      Re: No, this has nothing to do with the US First Amendment, freedom of speech

      "Lethal" was exactly the same argument used for Zimmerman and the PGP code. It was "a munition of war".

    3. J. Cook Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: No, this has nothing to do with the US First Amendment, freedom of speech

      It's this simple: If anyone wants to provide a potentially lethal ANYTHING to anybody in the USA by ANY means, then that thing is subject to the law, be they local, state or federal. That is all. This issue will be sorted out at those levels, not at the level of the US Constitution.

      ...So does this mean that we have to fill out a crap-load of paperwork for such things as:

      A shovel (https://abc13.com/man-beaten-with-shovel-while-he-slept-has-died/3432807/ , auto-playing video)

      A kitchen knife (oh wait, that's also illegal in the UK.)

      A screwdriver (Not the alcoholic kind, either)

      A crowbar (Paging Gordon Freeman to the white telephone), especially beefy ones)

      Just saying.

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