by Thomas Knapp
Guns: Out of the Bottle, Like it or Not
I saw my first “homemade gun” when I was a kid. Older kids — teenagers — would save up the 4th of July fireworks known (for obvious reasons) as “bottle rockets” and play “war” with them: Stick the firework in a glass soda bottle (this was back when soda came in glass bottles that one paid a deposit on and could return for a refund of that deposit … yeah, I’m old), point it at the “enemy,” shoot.
Apparently these “homemade guns” weren’t very dangerous. I don’t remember hearing of any serious injuries in the “bottle rocket wars,” though I don’t doubt there were some, somewhere. But other “homemade guns” certainly existed. Harlan Ellison describes “zip guns” made from car antennas or coffee percolator tubing in his non-fiction New York City gang life memoir, Memos from Purgatory (I wonder if Ellison ever gets the credit he deserves for foreshadowing Hunter S. Thompson’s breakout book, Hell’s Angels?). I once saw a demonstration of a “one-shot field-expedient shotgun” made from an old Sears catalog, a rubber band, a nail and a shotgun shell.
All of this is just to establish that there’s nothing new about non-traditional manufacture of firearms by individuals. Ever since we’ve had guns, we’ve had homemade guns.
3D printing just makes it easier. A LOT easier. Easier all the time.
It’s only been about a year since Cody Wilsonand Defense Distributed debuted the “Liberator,” a single-shot, .380-caliber, 3D-printed pistol, releasing the plans for it “into the Internet wild.”
Within weeks, as Andy Greenberg of Wired reports, enthusiasts were designing and producing multi-shot .38 pistols. Recently Japanese freedom fighter Yoshitomo Imura was arrested with (allegedly) a 3D-printed six-shot revolver. It appears that fully automatic weapons (or conversion parts for existing guns) are out there for the printing.
It’s time to repeat, with emphasis, what Cody Wilson told the world a year ago when he rolled the Liberator out:
“Gun control” is over.
It’s as dead as music copyright, and for the same reason: Advancing technology has taken the matter out of the hands of government regulators and their privileged industry monopolists.
Nobody has to like it.
That’s how it is whether anyone likes it or not.
Personally, I like it. If there are going to be guns — and there ARE going to be guns — I’d rather they were easily available to regular people than only to state military and law enforcement agents, violent criminals (but I repeat myself) and those who curry state privilege. In America, the statistics seem to indicate that violent crime goes down, not up, in environments of easier gun availability and fewer legal restrictions.
“An armed society is a polite society,” wrote science fiction master Robert A. Heinlein in 1942. That makes sense to me, but even if he was wrong, I’d rather go armed than unarmed in an impolite society. Everyone with access to modern technology — not just in the United States but everywhere — now has that choice.
A new, free society is building itself in the shell of the dying authoritarian society. Technologies of abundance, with all those technologies imply, are an inescapable feature of that new, free society. The sooner you begin availing yourself of your continuously expanding options, the faster and less violent the transition will be.