You Can’t Have It Both Ways

Posted: May 13, 2013 in Guns, Technology
Tags: ,

Gun control is control of all guns. This tautology, in a
developed society, is non-negotiable. If guns can
exist in our country, then gun plans can exist, and,
although I’m firmly on the side of draconian control
over most weapons, I find the move to ban Defense
Distributed’s plans for their Liberator pistol unconscionable. Guns exist, so these plans, too,
should exist. To be clear, I think Cody Wilson’s ideas are libertarian
claptrap. His jingoistic adoption of the Liberator name
– the name of the simple guns airdropped on German-
occupied territories to strike fear in the hearts of the
Nazis – insults the memories of war dead. Even a
pacifist would see the value in a last armed struggle against an enemy of unknowable power. Yet no pro-
gun pundits see the supreme disconnection between
the struggle of an unfree people and the rights of a
gunshow weapons purveyor to a frictionless
transaction. But even though we don’t need a
Liberator, now have it. And that is where I will defend these ridiculous plans
to the end. Like the Anarchist Cookbook before it, the
Liberator is the product of a fevered mind full of
conspiracy theories and unrighteous anger coupled
with a severe lack of self-awareness. The Cookbook’s
author, 19-year-old William Powell, wrote his “treatise” as a reaction to the Vietnam War. He felt strongly
enough that he would risk his life and limb – and the
lives and limbs of countless other impressionable
teens – by releasing a compendium of arguably risible
improvised weaponry. But his right to publish, to
produce, should never be in jeopardy. His aim was true but his target was wrong. The same goes for
Wilson. 3D printing is an important new industry. It makes it
as easy to play with plastic as BASIC made it easy
to play with bits. I can foresee a situation where a
child would design and print a plastic shiv or a fake
grenade or any number of potentially dangerous
items. This is how exploration works: you go to the extremes to understand the center. I remember one summer – I was probably 11 or 12 –
when my friends and I found some old glass doors in
the back yard. My friends and I spent an afternoon
cracking the glass and making “knives” – essentially
finding pieces of glass we could hold on to without
cutting ourselves. We named knives – Hawkeye, Samurai – and put them in a cloth-lined briefcase I
used on my “spy missions.” My parents found us later
in the the back yard playing with shattered glass. I
was grounded. We never got the clubhouse. The
same goes for the Liberator. The foolish mind will see
a pane of glass and sees a knife. The wise mind sees the same door and will use it as the entrance to a
greenhouse. That we didn’t see the useful application
of these doors made us idiots. We can fear 3D printing. Even if we ban every digital
file, someone out there will make something
dangerous and slap the sash of liberty on it. In the
end we live in a world of chaos tempered solely by
intelligence and compassion. It is my undying hope
that those latter facets of our nature will win out and so I understand the value of tinkering. The speed with
which Wilson ignored his own “No Takedown” rule
shows us how stern and staunch a freedom fighter
this boy really is. But I’d much rather see a vibrant –
if sometimes misguided – marketplace of ideas than
a culture of fear-mongering and bloviating. Only a fool would download and print Wilson’s gun. But, if guns
can remain in our lockboxes and closets, it is the
fool’s right to do so, no matter what.

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