Emerging technologies are finally driving a stake through the heart of gun control. These technologies are decentralizing the design and manufacturing of guns and gun parts. This decentralization means that there will one day soon be no single-point failure mechanism for firearms production and ownership. If this sounds familiar, it should. You’re reading this right now on a decentralized system; the Internet.
The Internet works, to the dismay of many governments around the world, because there’s no single point where the information passes. Thus, there’s no single point where the flow of information can be choked off. On the other hand, a government can make gun control work because the supply chain has several choke points. There are a limited number of manufacturers and a limited number of retailers. For Americans, many foreign made firearms are off limits under Federal law. This has allowed Uncle Sam to cut us off from manufacturers around the world. By harassing licensed dealers, Washington has decreased the number of retail outlets. We were slowly but surely approaching a point where a stroke of a pen could have made it impossible for the American people to exercise their right, as guaranteed under the Constitution, to acquire arms.
Note that the last sentence in in the past tense.
New manufacturing technologies are doing for the firearms supply chain what the Internet did for the flow of information; they’re decentralizing it. Earlier this year, we reported rather extensively on the activities of Defense Distributed. Their Liberator pistol became the first known example of a firearm made an entirely on a 3D printer. The Obama Administration went old-school in their attempts to put the Liberator toothpaste back into its tube. They failed. The Government’s attempt to stop Defense Distributed from disseminating the files for the Liberator failed miserably since the information wasn’t confined to a single server. It was all over the planet by the time the State Department finished the first draft of their take-down order for Cody Wilson.
And now technology is doing what it always does: Continuing to march along.
Now desktop CNC machines are in the works. While the Liberator is made from thermoplastic resin, desktop CNC machines, like Othermill, will make it possible to make parts from metals. While Othermill is oriented toward tasks like milling PCBs, the concept is the same for a more robust system. This has caused Bob Owens to wonder:
Purely as a practical matter, how long do you think it will be before someone takes an Othermill or similar portable CNC machine, and builds the jigs and writes the code to make finishing an 80% receiver or 80% frame as simple as clicking a button with your mouse?
And as with 3D printing, this technological revolution goes beyond merely replicating other people’s designs. Why limit yourself to an AR-15 lower when you can come up with, and make, your own designs?
Now what does this mean for traditional gun manufacturers? It means more freedom to conduct their business without the worry of what that stroke of a pen might do to their livelihood. Home-built firearms are not, and probably never will be cost effective. Any of you who are craft brewers know that your worst beers are better than anything Anheuser-Busch has ever turned out; but, they can beat you like a drum when it comes to cost. It’s a question of economies of scale. But, these new technologies make it impractical for the Federal government to do anything that would threaten companies like Winchester or Colt. Why bother shutting down Marlin or Baretta when the American People can simply whip out their 3D printers or desktop CNC mills and start making their own guns? Far from threatening gun makers, these new technologies safeguard their businesses. They are destroying the very basis for the laws that would otherwise have put them in the poor house.
As Bob Owens puts it:
As a practical matter, gun control is nearly dead. The idiots pushing for it just don’t understand that technology has killed the concept, and that is something that Cody Wilson has nailed with 100% accuracy.