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Tone-Deaf State Department Inflames Gun Owners' Fears

liberatorforbes1

Last weekend we wrote about the first fully 3-D printed gun, noting that it pointed to a whole generation of up-and-coming tech that will disrupt existing industries and challenge economic and political monopolies. Now it appears that the State Department has ordered Defense Distributed, which designed the gun, to take all traces of the gun’s blueprint off the internet. Forbes:

On Thursday, Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson received a letter from the State Department Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance demanding that he take down the online blueprints for the 3D-printable “Liberator” handgun that his group released Monday, along with nine other 3D-printable firearms components hosted on the group’s website Defcad.org. The government says it wants to review the files for compliance with arms export control laws known as the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, or ITAR. By uploading the weapons files to the Internet and allowing them to be downloaded abroad, the letter implies Wilson’s high-tech gun group may have violated those export controls.

This directive will set off huge waves of paranoia out there in Gunlandia, raising all sorts of anxious questions in gun owners’ minds. Why is the State Department involved here? Is this some kind of crypto UN-Bilderberger plot to disarm the American people or prevent them from accessing information? If it gets wide enough play, the domestic opposition to arms trade treaties will go into overdrive. Overall, it’s an excellent example of the way a failure to understand the internal dynamics of American politics can leave Foggy Bottom out in the cold.

[Photo of the Liberator by Michael Thad Carter for Forbes.com. Click through to see more photos]

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  • wigwag

    “This directive will set off huge waves of paranoia out there in Gunlandia…” (Walter Russell Mead)

    Wasn’t it Joseph Heller in “Catch 22″ who said, “Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me?”

    • Rich K

      The 2014 Elections are looking better every day.

    • ThomasD

      You’d think people who routinely practice in bloglandia might be more attuned to how this type of government overreach impinges upon other enumerated rights.

      One wonders how often this author employs such cutesy little diminutions to ghettoize people concerned with racism, or other forms of uncivil bigotry.

    • lasveraneras

      I concur. WRM does not usually descend into “snarklandia” in his (normally) evenhanded and informative posts. This may very well be an “American politics” issue as he states. But it is most certainly is an issue of the God given rights of American citizens as against the intrusive, anti-Constitutional Imperial U.S. Government.

  • http://www.facebook.com/corlyss.drinkard Corlyss Drinkard

    Well, really! Where DOES the State Dept. get off “ordering” an American citizen to take software off an internet site? I want citation to law. According to one report, the limp wrists at State collapsed in the face of “foreign pressure,” no doubt from the similarly inclined Eurotrash crowd who have been diligently disarming all their law-abiding citizens for decades.

    And while I’m on the subject of irrational reflexive Blue Model government responses to harmless bits and bytes, whatever happened to the feckless nimrod who produced the infamous “anti-Islamic internet video” that played a role in l’affaire Benghazi similar to that of the Man Who Never Was? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Mincemeat
    Is he still rotting in jail in California for having produced the vid when he had every right to do so under the 1st Amendment?

    • Rich K

      We actually do have export laws for sensetive tech and they have been on the books for decades.Back in 1979 I had to get customs clearance to send an Asteroids Video console overseas because of the comp tech inside.

      • timmaguire

        True, but does uploading something to the Internet count as exporting?

        • scooby509

          Remember how there used to be 128-bit and 40-bit browsers? (At least the SSL engines for the browsers) That was because the DOD had classified the encryption algos as munitions, and restricted export of the 128 bit version.

      • ChuckFinley

        Yes but after the Clinton Administration sold MIRV missile technology to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army for reelection cash I thought those laws were essentially a dead letter.

    • ThomasD

      It’s not even software, it is nothing more than a data file – the modern electronic version of a paper blueprint.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001005981425 Brendan Doran

    Pray who was it that finally said NO to the Ground Zero Mosque in NYC? The definitive NO that ended it?

    They didn’t cave in to “Eurotrash”. Their relationship to State is the other way round.

    This was a knee jerk reaction of…fear. And not of the “International Community”.

  • Jim Luebke

    Never fear, our dear leader can waive ITAR for anyone he likes!

    One set of rules for all… but exceptions only for the privileged.

  • TheCynical1

    This may prove as “successful” as the government’s efforts to stop the unauthorized online distribution of music and movies.

  • circleglider

    The State Department didn’t and couldn’t order Defense Distributed “to take all traces of the gun’s blueprint off the internet.”

    The plans for the Liberator handgun (along with blueprints, 3D CAD files and CNC instructions for many other weapons) can be downloaded via peer-to-peer file sharing by anyone with access to the Internet. To suggest that any government, institution or individual can “remove all traces” of any information from the Internet reveals a fundamental ignorance about the design and structure of the Internet.

    • boyd2

      Fair enough but that is kind of a nit pick compared to the issue at hand.

    • BooMushroom

      “The State Department didn’t and couldn’t order Defense Distributed “to take all traces of the gun’s blueprint off the internet.””

      False. The State Department *could* order that all traces be removed from the Internet. Similarly, it could order all people to live in harmony, for water to flow uphill, for snow to be warm, and for the moon to stop going through phases all the time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Pittelli/1157577837 David Pittelli

    You’d think the Executive Branch would obtain the signature of some judge before presuming to order people to take things off of their servers. Then again, if they’d gone to a judge, they’d have to take the risk that the judge would say no. A police state is so much easier and more predictable, to the powers that be.

    • http://thevailspot.blogspot.com/ Rich Vail

      If it’s for your own good, then the executive branch will “order” you to do what they want…after all, Obama has made an end run around Congress on health care (House won’t fund ObamaCare) by ordering HHS to give money to states; EPA is enacting GlobalWarming agenda through fiat regulation, since Congress refuses to do so…and on and on…

  • teapartydoc

    The directive had to have been approved by the fascist-in-chief.

  • Brett Bellmore

    The state department was involved because the pretext for ordering removal of the data was that it was a violation of a munitions export law, due to the fact the data could be accessed outside the country. Same as with any software that uses encryption, because they call that “munitions”. Even that silly basis would evaporate if they blocked foreign IP addresses, like companies here that sell software with built in encryption do, to avoid the same law applying to them.

    If they just printed the plans on paper, they’d have been ok exporting it. Silly law.

  • http://twitter.com/walksfarwolf SL aachoo

    You can’t stop the signal,Mal.

  • WilliamK

    Home made guns! Next thing you know they will ban re-runs of MacGyver.

  • wbonesteel

    When any government agency can physically and economically threaten the American people, we’ve crossed the line from freedom to tyranny.
    Congress created no such law. The Supreme Court examined no such law. The president signed no such law.
    An unelected, career bureaucrat did.

  • Cory Atkin

    P.J. O’Rourkes quote seems to apply in so much of what government does these days:

    “Whatever it is that the government does, sensible Americans would prefer that the government does it to somebody else. This is the idea behind foreign policy.”

    While there is a side of me that wishes liberalism was focused on trying to save the world instead of trying to save America, so that they would leave the rest of us Americans alone, I can’t in good conscience wish that on anybody.

  • catorenasci

    If you think “Gunlandia” – a term indicative of your own anti-gun bias – is paranoid in believing that many on the left wish to use the proposed international arms treaty to disarm American citizens, and would like to confiscate the guns of law abiding American citizens, you are either naive or a a knave. Have you not read the many things various persons on the left have said over the years? Have you not read of their opposition to the individual right contained in the Second Amendment? Have you not heard the recently released audio recordings of New Jersey state senators making it plain the want to confiscate firearms?

    You generally are as reasonable and sensible a leftist as one can find; you recognize the failure of the blue model and know what cannot continue won’t. Yet on this your bias against the rights guaranteed in the Constitution — note Founders believed the rights exist outside the Constitution and used the Bill of Rights simply to make explicit some of the limits on the power of the federal government to alter those rights – is obvious and pathetic.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004095851781 Bob Parkman

    Good luck with removing it from the internet. Right now, there are 5000+ active seeds on PirateBay alone for a 2k file. Likely there are already tens of millions of copies out there now.

    Kerry is a dolt.

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