This was always an overreach by Facebook. Information on how to make guns has been freely available, offline in printed form, for centuries. The idea that files on how to make 3D printed plastic guns are somehow verboten are a direct assault on the distribution of legal information. From another, pragmatic viewpoint, those files have been available on the internet for years.
In July of 2019, that policy was partly reversed. According to The Telegraph in the United Kingdom, Facebook is relaxing the ban, in part, because such information is legal in many countries. From thetelegraph.co.uk:
Facebook will allow some users to spread and promote blueprints for 3D printed firearms on its services, potentially opening the door to sales of untraceable “ghost guns”.
The social network said it would let “legitimate” gun shops and online vendors offer instructions for printing so-called “downloadable guns” in places where it is legal to do so.
Facebook has a policy that allows legal commerce. The blanket ban on the distribution of computer files on how to use 3D printers to print out guns or gun parts was in direct opposition to its policy on the legal distribution of information. From facebook.com:
Firearm shops and online retailers are allowed to engage in commercial activity involving firearms and ammunition on Facebook (ex: offering a gun for sale) as long as all applicable laws and regulations are followed.
Constructing your own gun has always been legal in the United States. There have been a few laws that nibbled about the edges. There have been kits and gun parts sold for people to construct their own guns for as long as the United States existed.
The ability to make your own gun is logically a part of the Second Amendment. It has existed as long as the United States. There have been a few odd state laws regulating it. Those laws have been passed recently. They have no long term history.
Individual experimentation with guns and ammunition has always been widely accepted. The most famous gun designer of all time, John Moses Browning, needed neither license nor permit to craft his world-famous designs. The only license the famous inventor wanted was the license he granted to manufacturers to produce and market his designs.
Browning’s designs included many firearms used in combat by the U.S. military, including the 1897 pump shotgun, the Brown Auto-5 semi-auto shotgun, the Browning Automatic Rifle, the Browning 1919 .30 caliber machine gun and the Browning .50 caliber M2 machine gun.
In the late 1930s the federal government required a license for people to manufacture and sell guns commercially. Individuals making their own guns have never needed one.
In the Heller decision, Justice Scalia mentioned the regulation of “commercial sale” of firearms might be Constitutional under the Second Amendment. It was implied: the regulation of private manufacture and sale would not be Constitutional.
Banning of the distribution of files that can be used to help make guns or gun parts with a 3D printer is blatantly unconstitutional under both the First and Second Amendments.
Firearms made with 3D printers do not create any significant risks beyond what has existed as long as guns have existed. Guns have been made of materials that are not easily detected by metal detectors for as long as there have been guns. Early guns were made of wood or bamboo. Today’s plastic materials can be made into guns by using molds and/or ordinary tools and reinforced plastics, without 3D printers.
The ability to make guns as effective and undetectable as those made with 3D printing has existed a long as there have been guns.
What scares the hoplophobes, is not the ability to make these guns. It is the ease with which they and others, uneducated about guns, see how the ability to make guns overturns the premises of strict gun control.
Defense Distributed saw the potential first and exploited it. Hoplophobes know little to nothing about guns or ammunition. They have first-hand knowledge of computers and printers. Show them guns can be made with computers and printers. They instantly see the potential.
Tell them guns can be made with drills, files, hammers, and anvils by illiterate tribesman in Pakistan or the Philippines, and they yawn. They relate to computers and printers. A drill and file is something people in the Red States have.
It is not so much 3D guns they fear; it is the clear understanding of the ease of making guns, promoted by the idea of 3D guns, they fear.
This is why they mounted an all-out attack on the First Amendment along with the Second Amendment.
The lawsuits filed by numerous anti-First and Second Amendment state AGs are moving forward in Washington State, as is the lawsuit filed by Defense Distributed against New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, in New Jersey.
All of this is rendered pragmatically moot as 3D printed designs proliferate and are easily available on the Internet, Defense Distributed or not.
Attempting to ban smallish computer files that are widely legal, from distribution on the Internet, is a fool’s errand.
Those who demand a disarmed population don’t care. They don’t care if they have to create a dystopic tyranny to put domestic disarmament in place. They see any limit on government power as immoral.
The free exercise of speech and the press is a direct threat to their vision of an unobtainable utopia.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.