Appeals Court Says Prior Restraint Is Perfectly Fine, Refuses To Rehear 3D-Printed Guns Case

from the nation-is-too-damn-insecure dept

It looks as though the Supreme Court may have to step in and settle a particularly thorny question involving the First Amendment, Second Amendment, national security interests, and 3D-printed weapons. Cody Wilson and his company, Defense Distributed, sued the State Department over its demands he cease distributing instructions for the creation of weapons and weapons parts.

The State Department came along too late to make much of a difference. It claimed Wilson's instructions violated international arms distribution laws, but by the time it noticed what Defense Distributed was doing, the instructions were all over the web. They still are, and no amount of litigation or government orders is going to change that.

What Defense Distributed is doing is perfectly legal in the United States. The State Department says it's illegal to put these instructions in the hands of foreign enemies. Since it can't control internet traffic, it's decided to take down the publisher.

That's the First Amendment implication, which can't really be separated from Second Amendment concerns considering the legality of distributing these instructions domestically. Last September, the Fifth Circuit Appeals Court found [PDF] in favor of the government and its national security concerns.

Because both public interests asserted here are strong, we find it most helpful to focus on the balance of harm requirement, which looks to the relative harm to both parties if the injunction is granted or denied. If we affirm the district court’s denial, but Plaintiffs-Appellants eventually prove they are entitled to a permanent injunction, their constitutional rights will have been violated in the meantime, but only temporarily. Plaintiffs-Appellants argue that this result is absurd because the Published Files are already available through third party websites such as the Pirate Bay, but granting the preliminary injunction sought by Plaintiffs-Appellants would allow them to share online not only the Published Files but also any new, previously unpublished files. That leads us to the other side of the balance of harm inquiry.

If we reverse the district court’s denial and instead grant the preliminary injunction, Plaintiffs-Appellants would legally be permitted to post on the internet as many 3D printing and CNC milling files as they wish, including the Ghost Gunner CNC milling files for producing AR-15 lower receivers and additional 3D-printed weapons and weapon parts. Even if Plaintiffs-Appellants eventually fail to obtain a permanent injunction, the files posted in the interim would remain online essentially forever, hosted by foreign websites such as the Pirate Bay and freely available worldwide. That is not a far-fetched hypothetical: the initial Published Files are still available on such sites, and Plaintiffs-Appellants have indicated they will share additional, previously unreleased files as soon as they are permitted to do so. Because those files would never go away, a preliminary injunction would function, in effect, as a permanent injunction as to all files released in the interim. Thus, the national defense and national security interest would be harmed forever. The fact that national security might be permanently harmed while Plaintiffs-Appellants’ constitutional rights might be temporarily harmed strongly supports our conclusion that the district court did not abuse its discretion in weighing the balance in favor of national defense and national security.

A lengthy dissent challenged the First Amendment implications of this decision, which brought prior restraint into play by forbidding Defense Distributed from posting new instructions, along with further distribution of plans it had already released. But the majority didn't find much it liked in the dissent -- at least not when weighing it against the government's national security interests.

The dissent argues that we “should have held that the domestic internet publication” of the technical data at issue presents no “immediate danger to national security, especially in light of the fact that many of these files are now widely available over the Internet and that the world is awash with small arms.” We note the following:

(1) If Plaintiffs-Appellants’ publication on the Internet were truly domestic, i.e., limited to United States citizens, there is no question that it would be legal. The question presented in this case is whether Plaintiffs-Appellants may place such files on the Internet for unrestricted worldwide download.

(2) This case does not concern only the files that Plaintiffs-Appellants previously made available online. Plaintiffs-Appellants have indicated their intent to make many more files available for download as soon as they are legally allowed to do so. Thus, the bulk of the potential harm has not yet been done but could be if Plaintiffs-Appellants obtain a preliminary injunction that is later determined to have been erroneously granted.

(3) The world may be “awash with small arms,” but it is not yet awash with the ability to make untraceable firearms anywhere with virtually no technical skill. For these reasons and the ones we set out above, we remain convinced that the potential permanent harm to the State Department’s strong national security interest outweighs the potential temporary harm to Plaintiffs-Appellants’ strong First Amendment interest.

The majority also pointed out the government can violate the First Amendment in the interest of national security, and that this court in particular seemed inclined to let it.

Defense Distributed asked for an en banc rehearing. That has been denied [PDF]. This denial gives the dissent the chance to lead off (so to speak), and the first thing it does is point out the obvious First Amendment violations.

The panel opinion’s flawed preliminary injunction analysis permits perhaps the most egregious deprivation of First Amendment rights possible: a content-based prior restraint. [...] First, the panel opinion fails to review the likelihood of success on the merits—which ten of our sister circuits agree is an essential inquiry in a First Amendment preliminary injunction case. Second, the panel opinion accepts that a mere assertion of a national security interest is a sufficient justification for a prior restraint on speech. Third, the panel opinion conducts a fundamentally flawed analysis of irreparable harm.

As the dissent points out, the majority chose to deploy prior restraint based on little more than the government's vague claims of insecurity.

The Government contends that the gun designs at issue could potentially threaten national security. However, this speculation falls far short of the required showing under Bernard and Nebraska Press, showing neither the immediacy of the danger nor the necessity of the prior restraint. Allowing such a paltry assertion of national security interests to justify a grave deprivation of First Amendment rights treats the words “national security” as a magic spell, the mere invocation of which makes free speech instantly disappear.

But this is exactly what the government does: make rights disappear with its "magic spell." And the courts continue to let it do this. In this case alone, the invocation of "national security" resulted in three consecutive decisions (district court and twice at the appeals court) in favor of prior restraint.

If the Supreme Court decides to review this, there's little in its track record suggesting it will do otherwise. But there's zero chance the government will let this go unregulated, even if the Supreme Court grants Defense Distributed a permanent injunction against the State Department. The government needs to have this threat of prosecution to hang over the head of Defense Distributed, as well as others with similar interests.

If this appears to operate in an area existing legislation can't touch, additional legislation will be introduced to address it. That may result in the government pressing ISPs into service to regulate internet traffic -- spying on users to catch them in the act of distributing illegal gun manufacturing plans. We'll have a Border Patrol but for the internet, maintained by private companies but overseen by the government.

It's not that there aren't potentially-serious repercussions from the distribution of 3D-printed gun plans. There's lots to be concerned about, but the concerns aren't new ones. Untraceable guns end up in the hands of people who aren't supposed to have them all the time. Printing one at home isn't a feasible reality for most people, especially those whose income and expertise are limited, which is most of the world.

Rights aren't sold separately. They're a bundle. The multiple opinions in this case have mostly ignored the Second Amendment implications in favor of examining the First. But those should be considered as well. If it's legal to manufacture these parts in the US, the State Department's order overreaches. Its concerns about worldwide distribution may be valid, but it's impossible to prevent this distribution without preventing Americans from doing something their government has told them it's ok to do.


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 12:28pm

    Close one

    It's a good thing absolutely no-one else on the planet is capable of making those sorts of designs, and that the order was able to recover every single instance of the design previously released, otherwise ordering a company to stop making said designs available would seem to be a perfect example of shutting the barn doors after the horses have already escaped in addition to the whole 'violation of free speech' issue.

    Chalk this up as another in a long line of cases where the magic words 'National Security' have saved the planet from utter destruction yet again.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 12:42pm

      Re: Close one

      Really funny that they don't seem to realize any one who has taken drafting and has access to a gun can make these plans. Few hours with some calipers and a CAD program, Tada, you have plans for a gun.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 1:14pm

        Re: Re: Close one

        And if you 3d print it, load and fire it, you will be lucky if you only lose your hand. The trick is getting a barrel and breach to withstand the firing pressure. A 3d printed gun is a technological tour de force, but is not the best, or even quickest way to make a plastic gun.

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        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 2:10pm

          Re: Re: Re: Close one

          Well, if you're actually behaving like a weapon designer, you'll char your bench-vice.

          I take that demolitions scientists only stereotypically have names like Left Ear or Cyclops or Two-fingers.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 7:42pm

          Re: Re: Re: Close one

          This company though was releasing designs for AR lowers. So your not printing the barrel or breach. You are printing the part the government calls a gun though. In this case I think they were actually using CNC to mill them out of metal.

          So yes, it your tried to just copy a metal gun and print it in plastic your going to have bad day. If on the other hand your only making the AR lower and then ordering the rest online.... that is different.

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          • identicon
            Dr J, 21 Mar 2017 @ 9:13am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Close one

            There are multiple designs floating around. Some rely on CNC machining of a partially finished receiver, while others actually do print the entire gun (the liberator is the most famous thus far).

            It seems as though selling 80% lower AR-15 receivers may no longer be legal (I haven't watched closely enough to say definitively though). That only affects people that want a fully functional replica of an existing assault rifle design; much simpler designs are correspondingly much easier to produce.

            There are cheaper ways to improvise guns than to buy a 3D printer or CNC machine. Slam fire guns, zip guns, muzzle loaders all come to mind. Many can be made legally and even transferred later. There is a lot of gray area surrounding these devices and legality varies by location.

            Luckily most of us that are smart enough to build guns from scratch are also smart enough to use them responsibly.

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      • icon
        Roger Strong (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 1:39pm

        Re: Re: Close one

        Every generation has a similar scare. Go back 40 years and the panic was about books like The Anarchist Cookbook making the rounds.

        Of course any 12 year old wanting to make their own explosives wouldn't need it. They'd do far better just looking in the encyclopedia and other books in their school library. I'm missing a few fingertips to prove it.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 12:28pm

    PGP case all over again

    This reminds me of the PGP case. MIT Press circumvented the ITAR restrictions be printing a book with the source-code for PGP. Now this can be done again by printing a book containing the 3-d data-file(s) the the gun.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 12:42pm

      Re: PGP case all over again

      A book actually *would* be OK, so long as you didn't export it. The court said, "If Plaintiffs-Appellants’ publication on the Internet were truly domestic, i.e., limited to United States citizens, there is no question that it would be legal."

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 1:00pm

        Re: Re: PGP case all over again

        "If Plaintiffs-Appellants’ publication on the Internet were truly domestic, i.e., limited to United States citizens, there is no question that it would be legal."

        Americans no longer have the freedom to speak with foreigners? That must be some lesser-known subclause of the First Amendment, like the one that limits allowed speech to that of "no immediate danger".

        I suppose if using the freedoms of the Second Amendment require government permission, there's no reason the First should be different.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 1:51pm

        Re: Re: PGP case all over again

        Actually the MIT book was specifically so the source code to PGP could be exported.

        an essay https://philzimmermann.com/EN/essays/BookPreface.html

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    • identicon
      Spica, 20 Mar 2017 @ 2:10pm

      Re: PGP case all over again

      This reminds me of the PGP case.

      The government is still determined to get that one overturned (and I doubt they will ever give up). A little more court packing and they should be good to go.

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  • icon
    amoshias (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 12:31pm

    Part of the problem is that Cody Wilson is his own worst advocate. I'm pretty on the fence about whether what he's doing should be okay - but every time I listen to him spouting off his juvenile, in-your-face need to stick it to the man, regardless of the consequences, I get more and more firmly into the "shut him down" camp.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 12:45pm

      Re:

      Sounds like he falls into the same group as Kim Dotcom. Thing is though, our legal system is supposed to be based on laws and make decisions based fully on those laws. It is not supposed to be based on if your an asshole or not. (or as is far too often the case, if your filthy rich or not)

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 1:31pm

      Re:

      So for example you hate your neighbor and cheer when they get their front door kicked down by the police. Ooops but the police didn't have a search warrant. Don't complain if the same thing were to happen to you.

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    • identicon
      Spica, 20 Mar 2017 @ 2:14pm

      Re:

      but every time I listen to him spouting off his juvenile, in-your-face need to stick it to the man, regardless of the consequences, I get more and more firmly into the "shut him down" camp.

      There are lots of people, like yourself, that oppose freedom speech, except when it comes to their own.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        amoshias (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 5:44pm

        Re: Re:

        What in god's name are you talking about?

        Believing in freedom of speech does not require me to agree with him. And if you look at this and think, "Oh, distributing computer code to 3-d print an illegal firearm? That's a cut and dried first amendment case, there's nothing complex or nuanced about it" then I honestly don't think we're sharing enough basic facts to have a conversation.

        But I'm sure it's easier to attack my belief in free speech than to make an actual argument.

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        • identicon
          Anon, 21 Mar 2017 @ 11:36am

          Re: Re: Re:

          So we need to check with the government before posting technical data to the Internet? If terrorists were found using Linux should the government shut down Redhat?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 12:40pm

    I will never be able to understand this mess. Gun laws are currently a total mess and few even realize how laughable they are. When I started reading up on them to buy my first rifle I was left dumbfounded.

    Generally you have to go to a store and get background check. Unless you just buy from another person. Then you start looking at automatics and such, there is a crazy bunch of "taxes" that you can pay depending on what you want. Full auto, silencer, and so on? Well pay your $200 tax and you can then buy one. This by the way is a tax NOT a permit. No one can say no, so long as clean criminal history and you pay the tax you get the gun.

    Then I realize, muzzle loaders are not even regulated. Sure, some people might just shrug that off. You only get one shot after all right? Well, not so fast, that also covers muzzle loading revolvers. They can be shipped right to your door, no questions asked, no permits or background checks.

    You seriously going to try and tell me my .44 revolver isn't as dangerous as a modern gun? It might be the same model used in the civil war but I get better groupings with it then with the several different glocks I have tried. Also for those thinking "Oh, sure but you get 6 shots and then takes forever to reload." Well yes... Unless I carry several cinders that can be dropped out and changed in a few seconds.

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    • identicon
      pegr, 20 Mar 2017 @ 12:58pm

      Re:

      "Full auto, silencer, and so on? Well pay your $200 tax and you can then buy one."


      This is not entirely correct. NFA weapons may be subject to local restrictions.

      A fully automatic weapon may only be transferred (sold) if it was made prior to 1986. As a result, they are insanely expensive.

      In any case, the wait for an ATF tax stamp can be six to ten months.


      So, no, it really isn't as easy as you make it sound.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 1:39pm

        Re: Re:

        Another possible legal angle that the pro-gun-control side might conceivable use is the act of "importing/exporting" into anti-gun states where such firearms are illegal.

        Although Cody Wilson and his company Distributed Defense are located in the 2nd-Amendment-friendly state of Texas, where "Old West" black-powder revolvers are not legally considered firearms, much of the rest of the country is far more gun-restrictive, even zealously so.

        This is why most private delivery companies like FedEx and UPS refused to ship their "Ghost Gunner" CNC machine, fearful that it might get them in serious legal trouble in vehemently anti-gun states such as California and elsewhere.

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        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 4:55pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Although Cody Wilson and his company Distributed Defense are located in the 2nd-Amendment-friendly state of Texas, where "Old West" black-powder revolvers are not legally considered firearms, much of the rest of the country is far more gun-restrictive, even zealously so.

          Wait, what? If they're not considered firearms, what are they classified as?

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 8:01pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Many states simply follow the lead of federal law, the National Firearms Act, which basically says that for legal purposes an antique firearm is not a firearm. Here's some excerpts of the actual text:


            26 U.S. Code § 5845 - Definitions:

            For the purpose of this chapter -

            (a) Firearm

            "The term "firearm" shall not include an antique firearm ... "


            (g) Antique firearm

            The term "antique firearm" means any firearm not designed or redesigned for using rim fire or conventional center fire ignition with fixed ammunition and manufactured in or before 1898 (including any matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system or replica thereof, whether actually manufactured before or after the year 1898) and also any firearm using fixed ammunition manufactured in or before 1898, for which ammunition is no longer manufactured in the United States and is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade.


            from https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/5845


            Footnote -- this also leads to some interesting legal theories, such as whether the prohibition of a convicted felon from possessing a "firearm" would apply to a modern replica of a black powder revolver, which is ostensibly not classified as a firearm in the eyes of the law. As a law only ever means whatever a judge says it means, perhaps it's not surprising that no convicted felon has yet volunteered to step forward and test this legal theory.

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            • icon
              Seegras (profile), 22 Mar 2017 @ 2:49am

              Antiques

              This is actually similar in most parts of Europe, although the manufacturing date is usually "before 1871". And yes, this also includes muzzle-loading revolvers in some countries.

              Here in Switzerland its "single-shot muzzle loaders manufactured before 1871".

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 1:12pm

      Re:

      You may need to check your facts...
      "Full auto, silencer, and so on? Well pay your $200 tax and you can then buy one. This by the way is a tax NOT a permit. No one can say no, so long as clean criminal history and you pay the tax you get the gun."

      1.You need to be eligible to possess firearms in general.
      2.You must live in a state where NFA items are permitted and machine guns, specifically, are legal to possess.
      3.The machine gun you wish to acquire must have been manufactured on or before May 19, 1986. That is the cutoff date for entries to be made in the NFRTR (National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record), the registry of all NFA items in the United States including machine guns.
      4.You must locate a Class III dealer (FFL01+SOT) that sells or can transfer in the machine gun you wish to acquire in your state of residence.
      5.You must purchase the machine gun upfront prior to transfer and have it shipped to your Class III dealer. For a full-auto M16, this will be anywhere from $12,000 and up. Typical prices for an M16 hover around $14,000 to $16,000.
      6.Once purchased and with your dealer, the dealer will fill out the Form 4 application on your behalf to submission to the BATFE and collect your $200 NFA transfer stamp tax.
      7.The application will be submitted. Now you wait 8+ months for the full FBI background check and BATFE processing to complete.
      8.Once the Form 4 is processed, it will be returned to the dealer along with the tax stamp which is part of your paperwork. You can then take possession of your military grade fully automatic firearm and take it home.
      9.The tax stamp must be kept with the firearm it belongs to at all times! The tax stamp is your only affirmative defense to prove you are not in possession of an illegal machine gun. The tax stamp is proof you paid the transfer tax and legally transferred the machine gun. Ranges that allow Class III will want to see the stamp. If you get pulled over and the gun is discovered/inspected, law enforcement will definitely want to see it too. You may be required to present the firearm for inspection on demand by the BATFE.
      10.You may not transport the fully automatic firearm across state lines for any purpose without prior consent of the Federal government. You must request this in advance and provide details on where the firearm is going, when you are leaving and when it will return to its registered location of residence.
      11.You cannot leave the presence of your fully automatic firearm. If someone else is shooting it, you must be with it, legally speaking. The one exception to this is if you have formed a legal trust for the purpose of possessing the firearm, in which case all beneficiaries of the trust (usually family or employees) may have access to the firearm.

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  • icon
    amoshias (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 1:05pm

    Gun laws are mostly a total mess because the gun manufacturer lobbyists, led by the NRA, have convinced gun owners that it is the lowest form of treason to even THINK the word "regulation." As a result, when gun laws get passed, guess who isn't at the table? People who are passionate about guns. The people who are at the table - AT BEST - are people like me, who shot a little at summer camp as a kid but who frankly knows nothing. the NRA - which was a good organization, when I was a kid, but which is the definition of Washington corruption now - has made it so that the people who taught me what little I know, as a kid, now just want to sit back and make fun of people who don't know the difference between a clip and a magazine, rather than sitting down and talking about it.

    It really makes me sad. I think in a vacuum, I'd be much more on the side of gun rights than regulation. But when the loudest pro gun voices are Wayne Lapierre and Cody Wilson, well, I know if I'm going to take a stand, it's not going to be with them.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 1:46pm

      Re:

      The NRA have been known to occasionally support gun control legislation, such as when they supported the 1986 machine gun ban.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 2:49pm

        Re: Re:

        The NRA generally suppoers sensible gun laws.The thing such laws are exceedingly rare.

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        • icon
          amoshias (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 5:53pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          No, like the AC above you, you're thinking of the early-80s NRA - the NRA I was a member of growing up, the NRA from when they were actually a group promoting responsible gun ownership, the NRA from before they let their lobbyist take over the organization. Today's NRA is a corrupt shadow of that organization that exists for no other reason than to perpetuate its own power.

          Which is a shame, because this is a time we NEED the NRA of the 60s and 70s.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 8:29pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            A big reason why the NRA has shifted to the right in recent decades is because of competitive pressure from the small but growing National Association for Gun Rights, which is seen as a hard-line rival that's been eating into the NRA's traditional monopoly. It's been reported that NAGR supporters have even been 'banned' from NRA events.

            http://godfatherpolitics.com/the-nra-thinks-rand-paul-is-too-strong-on-gun-rights/

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2017 @ 6:12am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "A big reason why the NRA has shifted to the right in recent decades is because of competitive pressure from the small but growing National Association for Gun Rights"

              Perhaps. However I would argue that they have shifted so far to the Right because of the constant calls for gun control.

              Both sides have their extremists.

              It seems to me the Left waits for some catastrophic shooting, and tries to use that to pass some emotional knee jerk reactionary law. Take the Ohio stabbings; immediately afterwards, Liberal governors and senators are calling for gun control. Calling for gun control after a stabbing? Seems to me we should be calling for a ban on kitchen knives? I find it ironic that the only "gun violence victim" was the person doing the stabbing.

              Then you have the Right. They are equally guilty by reacting in the extreme opposite direction every time they are confronted with new gun legislation. ANY legislation at all in their eyes is bad and they will spend whatever resources they need to in order to defeat it.

              I think it's going to be a long long time, if ever, before the Left and Right come together to create logical gun control laws, especially after the new SCOTUS appointments.

              http://dailycaller.com/2016/11/28/the-only-confirmed-victim-of-gun-violence-at-ohio-sta te-is-a-suspected-terrorist/

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2017 @ 8:50am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Perhaps the people on the "right" believe that our gun control laws are already sensible, and need go no further.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2017 @ 9:22am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  I would expect then the "Left" would reply; If the gun laws are already sensible, then the mass casualties shootings are an acceptable bi-product of this "sensibility"?

                  You could argue that we need to address the culture itself, not the tools of the culture. As a "Centrist", I would argue you need to address both.

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                  • icon
                    Uriel-238 (profile), 21 Mar 2017 @ 1:27pm

                    Rampage killings

                    The rampage incidents are not a problem regarding gun control. Rampage killers extensively pre-plan and typically overprepare. This is to say if you criminalize firearms, they'll just get more creative, and find another engine of destruction perhaps, say, with fertilizer bombs or siphoned gasoline.

                    (In fact, some do. They're called arsonists, and they get away more.)

                    It's peculiar to me how rampage shooters are the flagship of anti-gun activists. The primary risk of gun ownership is suicide. Suicide is typically not planned, but spontaneous, and a handgun (less so, long arms) provide that easy vector. So if you have a suicide risk in your family, it's better not to have a firearm. About 2/3 of gun deaths in the US are suicides.

                    But anti-gun positions are seldom about the protection of life. US drone strike programs kill more than all the guns in the United States. Drone Strikes are rampage killings, wiping out chunks of village at a time, including women and children, bloodily massacred in the worst possible way.

                    Only they don't appear in mainstream media. Records of them are kept secret or quickly purged. We call those civilians bugsplats and militants (or the kids fun sized terrorists), and we let them go on in the shadows.

                    Our newly elected President is looking to expand our CIA drone-strike programs, incidentally, so that he can use them anywhere, not just in designated War on Terror hotzones.

                    So really, it's about keeping the ugliness out of our newsfeeds. So long as kids are dying offscreen, it's okay. So long as they're dying of diabetes or depression, piecemeal, that's the way we like it. Those fatsos were too weak to live, anyway.

                    The truth of the matter also is that we suck at deciding what is a danger, whether it's bicycles causing lesbianism or AD&D and Rock-&-Roll as a gateway to Satanism, we're ever eager to decide one thing or another is endangering us. Whether its GMOs or Vaccine preservatives, we're going to freak out.

                    And in that light, our outrage about guns and their link to rampage killings is yet another moral panic. You might as well also be protesting pants, as they, too correlate.

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                    • identicon
                      Wendy Cockcroft, 22 Mar 2017 @ 7:05am

                      Re: Rampage killings

                      I get what you're saying about moral panics, Uriel, but it's harder to kill with a knife in a rampage than with a gun. The last time I had an argument with someone about this I brought up this case as an example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolverhampton_machete_attack

                      The trouble with guns is not that they're inherently dangerous and should be treated with care — so should razors. The trouble with guns, as some wise person once commented (on TD, if memory serves) is that they're the Great Equalizer. You could be a paraplegic, but a paraplegic with a gun is best addressed as "Sir," and obeyed till you can get the gun off him. Little old ladies are vulnerable as a rule but a little old lady with a gun is to be feared.

                      Hold that thought.

                      So... the empowerment provided by possession of a dangerous weapon is the problem when the possessor is, not to put too fine a point on it, either criminal or nuts. Is it reasonable to give enhanced killing power to criminals and nutters? The NRA and gun lovers think it is. I say no. Let responsible people have guns by all means, but not crazies or criminals. Is that fair?

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                      • icon
                        The Wanderer (profile), 22 Mar 2017 @ 7:12am

                        Re: Re: Rampage killings

                        The problem with that idea is the potential for abuse - the potential for society or those in power to arbitrarily label people as crazy, or falsely convict (or even just accuse) people of crimes, in order to deprive them of the guns which provide them with that equalizing power.

                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Seegras (profile), 22 Mar 2017 @ 2:58am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                *Liberal governors and senators are calling for gun control.*

                You got it wrong. "Liberals" are not calling for "control". Either they're liberal, or they're calling for control, but the two are mutually exclusive.

                As it happens "Liberal" means "standing in for liberty" which means less control and less regulation.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  The Wanderer (profile), 22 Mar 2017 @ 5:14am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  It doesn't necessarily mean less control and less regulation.

                  Regulations which serve to prevent A from impeding the liberty of B, more than they serve to impede the liberty of A, can be perfectly consistent with liberalism.

                  (Also, the word doesn't necessarily mean that anyway. If you look at usage of the adjective "liberal" outside of a political context - which are, admittely, mostly a little archaic nowadays - you run into things like "she spread her toast liberally with butter" or "he poured out the drinks with a liberal hand", where the apparent meaning is approximately the opposite of "stingy".

                  It's not universal, but I find that if you look at the political factions with "liberal" vs. "stingy" in mind, the positions each side takes tend to fit surprisingly well...)

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Wendy Cockcroft, 22 Mar 2017 @ 7:06am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Indeed, you'd be amazed to learn that many Democrats flat out love guns. Seriously, look it up.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • icon
                      The Wanderer (profile), 22 Mar 2017 @ 7:15am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      I'm more hesitant to call myself a Democrat these days, but I certainly have no problem with guns; even my father - a pastor and an ardent pacifist, who is politically somewhere to the left of Gandhi - has no problem with guns as such and has expressed interest in the idea of acquiring one.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Rouge1, 22 Mar 2017 @ 8:06am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                To put restrictions on any of our constitutional rights the constitution needs to be amended period. Anything otherwise is unlawful and unconstitutional.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Spica, 20 Mar 2017 @ 2:26pm

      Re:

      But when the loudest pro gun voices are Wayne Lapierre and Cody Wilson, well, I know if I'm going to take a stand, it's not going to be with them.

      Um, no they're not. And have you heard some of the loudest anti-gun voices? And you're taking a stand with them? Wow. Just wow.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        amoshias (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 5:49pm

        Re: Re:

        Right, because the ONLY CHOICES in this country are to stand at one extreme or the other. Jesus christ, with you people...

        And actually, no. I can honestly say that - as someone interested in the issue, I could not name one major voice on the gun control side of the issue. Who would you consider the "loudest voices"? And what have they said as insane as Lapierre's paranoid rants in *2016* that, trust him, Obama was just waiting for the right minute to finally come and take away your guns?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2017 @ 6:14am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "ONLY CHOICES in this country are to stand at one extreme or the other. "

          It's horrible isn't it? Between post mass shooting knee jerk legislation from the Left, and the protectionist far Right positions, we may never get REAL gun control legislation on the table.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            mhajicek (profile), 21 Mar 2017 @ 9:11am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Gun control legislation is expressly unconstitutional.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Gun Hater, 21 Mar 2017 @ 12:22pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Gun control legislation is expressly unconstitutional.

              So? F*ck the constitution. Liberty is dangerous!

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Wendy Cockcroft, 22 Mar 2017 @ 7:10am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Citation?

              The Second Amendment states: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

              Basically, the well regulated militia was part of the deal, the idea being that any attempt to overthrow the revolution could be swiftly countered by them. It was never intended to be a free-for-all yeehaw! thing, it was intended to be a "To arms! The British are upon us!" thing.

              So militias are supposed to be regulated. Gun control used to be common and there was little whingeing about it then, if memory serves.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                mhajicek (profile), 22 Mar 2017 @ 1:17pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Sounds like you don't know what the words "militia" and "regulated" mean. A militia is not an army. It is not the National Guard, which is one of the Federal Government's several standing armies (there is precedent that the Federal Government can overrule state governments in controlling their National Guard). A militia, as the term was in common usage when that line was written, consisted of every able bodied man of fighting age. As a matter of fact, not long before that line was written, King George's army had attempted to disarm American militias to make it easier to "tax" (rob) the people. This resulted in a little revolution that you may have heard about.

                "Regulated", at the time, meant "trained", not "controlled" as it currently does. So in modern English, it means "Since the security of a free nation requires that everyone be armed and well trained, no one shall attempt to limit or regulate weapons".

                There is also the matter that the portion before the comma is an explanation of the reason for the portion after, not a condition.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Rouge1, 22 Mar 2017 @ 8:01am

      Re:

      Gun control is treason to the constitution and America. Gun control laws are just jim crow laws ment to keep the weeds from being armed. The government used simular taxes and tatics at the voting booths. Any government regulation is an infringement. Why can't we use poll taxes and background checks for voting? Any restrictions should be amendments to our constitution. If our corrupt government can infringe upon or deny one constitutional right they can do any or all.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    McFortner, 20 Mar 2017 @ 1:09pm

    rights

    OK, so you have these rights and can exercise them at any time. But not this one because it breaks this law. Or that one because it breaks another. Or...

    You know what? Just forget you have any rights whatsoever, OK?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 1:15pm

      Re: rights

      Exactly, and many citizens love it.

      Like I have repeated many times, that Americans are in love with corruption.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 1:42pm

      Re: rights

      Today it's 3D-printed weapons, next it'll be someone panicking about the new kids and their amateur CRISPR genome editors. It's just a few rogue viruses; take some Dayquil.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 1:57pm

    What good is a 3d printed gun on its own anyway? You still need to go out and get real bullets to shoot anyone with it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 2:54pm

    >You still need to go out and get real bullets to shoot anyone with it.

    "Guns don't kill people. Bullets kill people. But only on special occasions. For everyday people-killing, we depend on the ever-reliable drunk drivers and abortion mills."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    mhajicek (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 10:54pm

    Missing basic facts

    Printing, machining, or otherwise making a firearm is perfectly legal in the US, no licensing or registration needed, so long as the firearm is of a type that's legal for you to own, you're not making them for sale, and you're not a convicted felon. Why should it be illegal to give instructions on how to do something legal?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 11:40pm

      Re: Missing basic facts

      Why? Because if the ATF decides that something is illegal, then it's illegal -- unless of course a person has the resources to fight it all the way to the Supreme Court.

      The ATF decided that "build parties" were illegal, and then proceeded to raid the machine shops that were organizing these events that taught people how to machine an aluminum billet into a (non-serialed, hence untraceable) rifle receiver.

      That law enforcement action by the ATF is what spawned the Ghost Gunner, a low-cost preconfigured CNC machine that enabled people to do in the privacy of their homes the very thing that the ATF said they couldn't legally do in a public space.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2017 @ 12:19pm

        Re: Re: Missing basic facts

        enabled people to do in the privacy of their homes the very thing that the ATF said they couldn't legally do in a public space.

        Sounds like sex.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 21 Mar 2017 @ 5:07am

    "The majority also pointed out the government can violate the First Amendment in the interest of national security, and that this court in particular seemed inclined to let it."

    This is the same as not having these Constitutional rights in the first place. If the Government can use the "national security" excuse to trample such basic rights then just put the Constitution in the shredder and stop pretending to care. This is what a totalitarian state is like. If you are planning to go down that route stop criticizing Venezuela, China, North Korea and so on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Just Dillon, 21 Mar 2017 @ 9:39pm

    "This is a weapon"

    I have a (by now rather ratty) t-shirt that had the RSA encryption source code along with the warning that "this is a weapon". And lots of pictures of me wearing it in obviously foreign places. Never made it to the Kremlin.

    One can buy what's known as an "85% kit" which consists of a chunk of aluminum that has been forged and machined to resemble an AR lower, but isn't. The user must do some work to translate this unregulated bookstop to a "firearm". Said firearm, of course, still needs a buttload of parts.

    Of course I could lay one out with SolidWorks and publish that. And so could each of you. Do it quietly. Well, not too quietly for me, now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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