FedEx Refuses To Ship Perfectly Legal Milling Machine (Which Can Also Craft Gun Parts), Can't Provide A Coherent Reason Why
from the baby,-bathwater dept
I recently toured a maker space in Burlington, and while I lack the inclination to build amazing contraptions out of Raspberry Pis, soldered metal and imagination myself, there’s a Lego-loving corner of my brain that has an endless appreciation for the fusion of technology and creativity aided by modern marvels like 3D printers. It probably goes without saying that inexpensive and/or communal 3D printers, milling machines and other tools have opened the door toward a massive realm of new innovation, whether that’s building less expensive prosthetic limbs, robotics or drones.
Of course, the fact that a lot of this technology can also help build weapons has resulted in no limit of hysteria that has a great potential to hamper a lot of the better aspects of this technological evolution. The latest case in point comes courtesy of FedEx, which is refusing to ship a computer controlled (CNC) mill dubbed the Ghost Gunner. Sold by Defense Distributed, the $1,500 machine can carve any number of aluminum objects from digital designs. With a few cheap extra parts, it can also help craft untraceable, semi-automatic firearms. This, apparently, has worried the FedEx legal and marketing departments:
“This device is capable of manufacturing firearms, and potentially by private individuals,? FedEx spokesperson Scott Fiedler wrote in a statement. ?We are uncertain at this time whether this device is a regulated commodity by local, state or federal governments. As such, to ensure we comply with the applicable law and regulations, FedEx declined to ship this device until we know more about how it will be regulated.”
Of course, we’re entering an era where anything can be built at home, and just because firearms are among them, that doesn’t make the tools illegal. Any lathe or mill can be used to help make a firearm; Defense Distributed appears to have gotten attention because of founder Cody Wilson’s salty demeanor, and the fact it’s specifically marketing their milling machine as a potential firearms maker. Again though, that doesn’t magically make the ownership of such technologies against the law:
“But buying, selling, or using the Ghost Gunner isn?t illegal, nor is owning an AR-15 without a serial number, says Adam Winkler, a law professor at UCLA and the author of Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America. “This is not that problematic,? he says. “Federal law does not prohibit individuals from making their own firearms at home, and that includes AR-15s.”
When pressed, FedEx hasn’t been able to give a decent reason why it has suddenly added milling machines to its list of unshippable materials alongside hazardous waste and corpses. As we’ve noted when discussing the hysteria over firearm printing instructions or legislative efforts to thwart gun printing, this is a genie that’s well out of its bottle, and no limit of cajoling the agitated djinn back into confinement is likely to be successful. Still, it seems inevitable that we try, in the process stumbling on and over a myriad of technological potential in the misguided quest to roll back the clock to a simpler age.