So, the furor over 3D printed guns continues! Last week I was in Washington DC, and took the opportunity to shoot a short video about what the proposed bans on tools and information would mean. Bear in mind that this is not just a 2nd Amendment issue; to control information, publishing, and speech, the U.S. Government would need to infringe on virtually every foundational principle of our Constitution.
It’s going to be an interesting week in the Gun Control debate! There is of course, no massive gun violence disaster at the moment (unless you count crime rates in cities with bad gun laws), but there are some upcoming midterm elections… which explains why earlier this week, Democratic senators and Attorney Generals lashed out against an upcoming “Ghost Guns” apocalypse that could only be averted by new legislation, which could only be brought by new legislators, who are currently running for office.
That being said, there was a gun-related legal decision last month that kicked all of this off, and it does bear talking about. A quick recap: In 2013, the State Department demanded that Cody Wilson shut down defcad.com, a collection of downloadable 3D firearm files, claiming that sharing digital blueprints was a violation of ITAR’s weapon export controls. Wilson took down the files, and then sued the State Department, arguing that the order violated his First, Second, and Fifth Amendment rights.
To fund his lawsuit, Cody Wilson’s company Defense Distributed has been selling miniature CNC mills programmed to finish out 80% lowers for AR-15s, 1911s, and Glocks. After five years of legal back-and-forth, the US State Department finally settled the suit, paid back 10% of Wilson’s legal fees, and admitted that digital firearm blueprints could legally be published online.
This is just common sense; apart from his 3D-printable Liberator pistol, the 3D files Wilson was sharing online were mostly things like AR-15 and 1911 measurements and CAD drawings, information that has been publicly available and globally published for decades. It’s preposterous so say that information in one form (physical) is legal, while the same information in an other form (digital) is illegal.
However, this isn’t really new territory; the US government has been trying to control dissemination of computer code for decades as well. Major cases involved sanctions on the inventors of early encryption algorithms, and attempts to outlaw digital movies files on hard drives, while legalizing digital movie files on DVDs. Nevertheless, US legal precedent tends to favor the idea that computer code is free speech.
Which is why Cody Wilson’s new opponents aren’t attacking him on those grounds. Shortly after the State Department’s quiet retreat, the (Democratic) Attorney Generals of eight states (Washington, Oregon, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and of course, the District of Columbia) have launched a new lawsuit to shut Cody Wilson down again, this time on the basis of public safety, horror stories about potential terrorism, and because it was Trump who made the State Dep’t give free gun blueprints away.
If you read through the complaints from the various (Democratic) AGs and legislators, you won’t find any mentions of free speech, CNC machines, or the constitution. All they can talk about is Trump, 3D printers, magical machine guns showing up in “any public place.” At a press conference last week, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) warned that “these Ghost Guns are the new wave of American gun violence… They are undetectable, untraceable; forget about the TSA guarding the plane that you board!”
As he spoke, a somber Sen. Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) slowly lifted a giant poster depicting two AR-15’s with (possibly) polymer lower receivers, but obviously equipped with metal upper receivers, metal bolts, metal barrels, metal rails, metal sights, metal optics, and presumably metal internal parts and loaded with metal ammunition. Reporters covering this issue have been equally clueless as the technology they are discussing.
Nevertheless, I predict that this lawsuit, ostensibly aimed at Cody Wilson but repeatedly naming Donald Trump, won’t last long after the midterms. If it can scare a few voters out to the polls it will have done its job. Unfortunately, the demonizing of guns, 3D printers, computer code, and free speech will not end any time soon. We need to continue to defend all the tools that will allow us to defend liberty.
Check back on the blog, and we’ll be talking from about this issue, especially as it relates to 3D printing, gun manufacturing, and the ways that new technologies are affecting these issues.
Looks a lot like a video game doesn’t it? HK USPs have definitely been glorified in a number of stealth-shooter video games from the late 90s and early 2000s. I’m currently trying out this particular setup and will probably produce a YouTube video on it in the near future.
USP 9 with Surefire Ryder 9 in the short configuration, GGG rail adapter, Surefire X300U, DG switch. I’m running the stock DA/SA trigger. Probably won’t upgrade to a LEM.
People ask me all the time: “Irons in front or behind the optic?” In my opinion… it doesn’t matter. I believe both have enough pros and cons that neither is majorly superior over the other. When I shoot either of these pistols I have never once thought “wow, something is off… I can’t shoot this as well as the other because of the rear sight placement.”
Concern yourself with developing actual skill. Because THAT is what matters.
The IDF just announced the newest generation of their Merkava 4 main battle tank, which benefits from some impressive upgrades. The armor is improved, the engine got a power boost, and the 120mm main gun has much better thermal characteristics… but some of the biggest new features are computer and software-based.
That main gun’s targeting computer is more accurate now, and can even compute firing solutions for knocking out airborne helicopters – with regular unguided anti-tank ammo – while on the move. But more importantly, the computer is constantly analyzing data from countless radar, video, and thermal sensors to identify, prioritize, and then automatically aim the turret at threats.
The tank’s three crew members can see all this stacked sensor data in the VR displays of their helmets, giving them a 360 degree view around the tank and overlays of target information. This isn’t really brand-new tech; helicopter pilots have had helmet-mounted displays for a long time, and the new F-35 helmet gives pilots a 360 degree view “through” the aircraft.
However, it’s the combination of a bunch these existing technologies in the Merkava that makes it interesting. The AI target identification computer combined with an advanced ballistics computer and auto-aiming turret means incredibly fast firing capability. The combination of a powerful central computer and VR helmets means that every Merkava 4 tank is also a Merkava 4 simulator (and tank mechanic training tool).
More importantly, the combination of many kinds of sensor data into a single view means much better decision-making for the tank commander. As cameras, thermal sensors, radar and radio equipment gets smaller and AI technology gets more advanced, we’re going to see more and more SIGINT work moving from human analysts to computers, and from large intelligence units to individual vehicles like aircraft and tanks. Eventually we will see some of these capabilities coming to individual soldiers.
One of our Ragnaroks at the range fitting a Glock 22 with a Surefire X300U.
We like making points at T.REX ARMS. Even some of the most simple of points.
One of the main issues with the SCAR series of rifles, is setting them up with lasers. The folding front sight always seems to get in the way. This particular setup works very well however. A Kinetic Development or Midwest Industries extended rail allows the laser unit to be mounted out near the muzzle and lower in relation to the optic.
The problem with running a shorter extended rail is that you can’t have the front sight stowed AND the laser mounted. So the front sight has to be in the upright position, or… simply folded onto the PEQ. I shot this configuration for a few hours and the front sight never popped up. It’s a pretty slick setup. Although it triggers a lot of people’s OCD. haha