‘It’s the only amendment that’s obscurely written’. People should be allowed have guns if they ‘participate in a militia’, only.
Awr Hawkins writes: In a July 23 interview published in the New York Observer, actor Richard Dreyfuss said he would like to rewrite the 2nd Amendment to make it clear it applies to the militia rather than individual rights.
Dreyfuss said this after being asked, “What was the Founding Fathers’ biggest mistake” and “What article of the Constitution would you rewrite?”
Mark Chesnut writes: When actor Vince Vaughn recently took up for the right to keep and bear arms in a highly publicized British GQ interview, he made a very reasonable argument for the Second Amendment—one you seldom hear coming from the “Hollywood crowd.”
“You think the politicians that run my country and your country don’t have guns in the schools their kids go to? They do. And we should be allowed the same rights. Banning guns is like banning forks in an attempt to stop making people fat.”
— Vince Vaughn
“I support people having a gun in public full stop, not just in your home,” Vaughn said. “We don’t have the right to bear arms because of burglars; we have the right to bear arms to resist the supreme power of a corrupt and abusive government. It’s not about duck hunting; it’s about the ability of the individual. It’s the same reason we have freedom of speech. It’s well known that the greatest defense against an intruder is the sound of a gun hammer being pulled back.”
Vaughn also pointed out the danger of gun-free zones, detailing how only criminals intent on doing harm have firearms in those locations.
“All these gun shootings that have gone down in America since 1950, only one or maybe two have happened in non-gun-free zones,” he said. “Take mass shootings. They’ve only happened in places that don’t allow guns.
“These people are sick in the head and are going to kill innocent people. They are looking to slaughter defenseless human beings. They do not want confrontation.” Vaughn even weighed in on the importance of armed citizens in protecting students. Asked whether he supported guns in the hands of good guys on campuses, Vaughn said: Ironically, the most vocal criticism came from some in the news media—those who are supposedly objective and impartial.
“Of course. You think the politicians that run my country and your country don’t have guns in the schools their kids go to? They do. And we should be allowed the same rights. Banning guns is like banning forks in an attempt to stop making people fat.”
One might expect such strong, pointed talk would draw lots of criticism from other actors, many of whom lean toward the anti-gun end of the spectrum. Ironically, the most vocal criticism came from some in the news media—those who are supposedly objective and impartial.
On Fox News’ The Five, Geraldo Rivera compared Vaughn to the perpetrator of the Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 innocent people. “Doesn’t that remind you of Timothy McVeigh …?” Rivera quipped.
Geraldo went on to claim that armed self-defense is simply a figment of the imagination of those who support gun rights. Read the rest of this entry »
Next Stept: Governor Abbott’s Desk
AUSTIN – Open carry in Texas is just a signature away from becoming law, as the House and Senate voted in rapid succession on Friday to send the contentious bill to Gov. Greg Abbott.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 29, 2015
The measure – backed by Republicans and a few House Democrats – would allow licensed Texans to openly carry handguns in belt or shoulder holsters. And Abbott, a Republican, has said he will sign open carry into law. Read the rest of this entry »
Bills hampered by university leaders’ resistance, even in gun-friendly states
Of the 15 “campus carry” bills introduced earlier this year, none has passed.
“Nathan Scott, a former student at Florida State University who was shot in the leg in the school’s library by a gunman last November, said that having a gun would have helped him defend himself.”
Measures in 11 states have already effectively died, including in Florida, where gun-rights supporters had high hopes before two bills stalled before reaching floor votes.
And on Thursday, the Nevada senate defeated an 11th-hour move to tuck campus carry into a broader firearms measure, likely dooming the effort this year. Bills in at least two other states are expected to fail soon as well.
“If I had been armed, I would have shot the killer before he shot me, absolutely. It’s ridiculous that students aren’t able to carry.”
— Nathan Scott
Attention is now focused on lawmakers in Texas, who could vote to expand campus carry soon, in the waning days of the legislative session. A win in Texas, which could come as early as next week, could help keep the effort alive and provide momentum heading into 2016.
“Permit holders are more law-abiding than the general public, and there’s just no reason their constitutional rights should stop at the borders of a college or university.”
— Jennifer Baker, a spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association
The push to allow those with concealed-carry permits to carry firearms on campus picked up following the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech University, in which 33 people, including the gunman, were killed.
The National Rifle Association and other gun-rights groups say students should have had the ability to defend themselves with firearms.
“Advocates of looser laws concerning guns on college campuses say that students trained with a gun would be better positioned to fend off a host of potential crimes, from sexual assaults to a Virginia Tech-style mass shooting.”
The U.S. Supreme Court, in its seminal 2008 ruling called District of Columbia v. Heller, found that the Second Amendment protects one’s right to possess a gun inside the home for self-defense. But the court didn’t say precisely when that right can be exercised in public. Since then, lower courts have wrestled with how to apply the Heller ruling to gun bans in public places, and legal experts think the Supreme Court will likely take up the question in another case before too long. Read the rest of this entry »
FRIENDSHIP, Maine – The bitter cold weather is taking a toll on New England’s lobster industry which is losing a significant amount of money this winter.
Frozen waters in Maine have left lobstermen stuck on the mainland again this week.
The boats are sitting frozen and stuck and ice is preventing many lobstermen from leaving the harbor. Read the rest of this entry »
Rani Molla reports:
“Concealed carry—you don’t know who’s doing it and it doesn’t cause as much concern as open carry. One is a danger you know, and one is a danger you don’t know.”
— Laura Cutilletta, senior staff attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence
Gun-rights advocates see the practice as a way to normalize gun ownership and deter crime, while gun-control activists believe carrying guns in stores and restaurants is disruptive to the public and encourages violence.
Recently, Target, Starbucks and Chipotle have asked their patrons not to bring their guns. After petitions by gun-control groups such as Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Kroger said it would uphold local and state laws in the 34 states it operates.
Carrying a firearm in a concealed manner is legal in all states, but open carry has more restrictions, especially for handguns.
(Open Carry is way more normal than most people think: http://t.co/cFFC2p2ukK)
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) January 29, 2015
Though federal law doesn’t restrict the open carrying of handguns in public, several states—including California, Florida, Illinois, New York, South Carolina and Texas—ban the practice, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Thirteen states require a special permit or license to open carry. Read the rest of this entry »
Approves 8 Applications, Denies 11
Stephen Gutowski reports; The District of Columbia has issued its first concealed handgun carry permits. As of January 26, there are eight civilians who can legally carry a firearm in the nation’s capital. Currently, more permit applicants have been denied than approved.
“The City Council adopted a ‘may issue’ law which featured a myriad of restrictions, imposed 18 hours of training requirements, cost $110 in application fees, and required applicants prove to city officials their need to carry a firearm. It has been widely criticized by gun rights activists.”
“We’ve had 69 applications, of which 3 were canceled at the request of the applicant,” Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump said. “So far eight licenses have been approved and issued.”
The District was forced to adopt a legal framework allowing civilians to carry firearms after a federal judge declared the city’s previous ban unconstitutional last July. The City Council adopted a “may issue” law which featured a myriad of restrictions, imposed 18 hours of training requirements, cost $110 in application fees, and required applicants prove to city officials their need to carry a firearm.
“So far eight licenses have been approved and issued.”
It has been widely criticized by gun rights activists. The city began accepting applications several months later on October 23rd but established a 90 day review period.
The eight people legally allowed to carry a gun within city limits represent about .00001 percent of the 646,449 people the Census Bureau estimates reside in the city.
The MPD did not provide any information about where the eight permittees reside, but there are non-residents represented among the 69 people who have applied for a permit. Read the rest of this entry »
OLYMPIA — Rep. Matt Shea told gun rights activists today he believes the ballot measure on background checks is unconstitutional and can be ignored.
“An unconstitutional law is no law at all,” said Shea, R-Spokane Valley, who added he is supporting bills to repeal Initiative 594 and other gun control measures….(read more)
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — More than 200 gun-rights activists assembled on the steps of Washington’s Capitol in protest of the expansive background-check law state voters passed in November.
At Thursday morning’s rally, state legislators and other opponents of Initiative 594’s requirement of background checks on all gun sales and transfers voiced their belief the new law unfairly infringes on their Constitutional rights. Read the rest of this entry »
UNENFORCEABLE i594: Washington Gun Owners Stage Mass Civil Disobedience Protest in Defiance of New Background Check LawPosted: December 13, 2014
OLYMPIA, Wash. — Thousands of gun-rights advocates are rallying outside the Capitol to protest a new expanded gun background check law in Washington state.
Saturday’s protest is called the “I Will Not Comply” rally, and those attending say they will openly exchange firearms in opposition to the state’s new voter-approved universal background check law, Initiative 594.
The law, which took effect on Dec. 4, requires background checks on all sales and transfers, including private transactions and many loans and gifts…(AP)
Reason.com‘s J.D. Tuccille reports: Tens of thousands of Connecticut gun owners chose to become overnight felons rather than comply with that state’s new gun registration law. The defiance spurred the Hartford Courant editorial board to impotently sputter about rounding up the scofflaws.
New York’s similar registration law suffers such low compliance that state officials won’t even reveal how many people have abide by the measure—a desperate secrecy ploy that the New York State Committee on Open Government says thumbs its nose at the law itself.
Now Washington state residents pissed off about i594, a ballot measure inflicting background check requirements on even private transactions, plan an exercise in mass disobedience…
The fellow getting much of the credit for organizing the rally is Gavin Seim, a former (unsuccessful) congressional candidate and passionate conservative. Seim got a lot of buzz last month when he pulled over an unmarked police car and demanded that the officer show identification. Perhaps surprisingly, Seim not only wasn’t ventilated, but the officer complied.
Seim and his allies (the Facebook event page lists Kit Lange Carroll, Sondra Seim, and Anthony P. Bosworth as co-hosts) plan a rally for the Washington State Capitol, in Olympia, on December 13 at 11am PST. That’s nine days after the law goes into effect. So far, almost 6,000 people have indicated their intention to attend and “exchange guns” without going through a background check, in defiance of the new requirements. Read the rest of this entry »
Kate Scanlon reports: More Americans support gun rights over gun control, according to a newly released survey by the Pew Research Center.
According to Pew, 52 percent of respondents answered that it is more important to “protect the right of Americans to own guns.” In contrast, 46 percent said that it is more important to “control gun ownership.”
In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, 51 percent of Americans supported stricter gun control laws, and 45 percent supported gun rights.
Now, 57 percent of Americans responded that gun ownership does more to “protect people from becoming victims of violent crime,” while 38 percent believe it does more to “put people’s safety at risk.”
[Also see – Japan Makes First Arrest Over 3-D Printer Guns – punditfromanotherplanet.com]
Yoshitomo Imura, an employee at the Shonan Institute of Technology in Japan, was arrested last may for printing and firing a 3D-printed gun called the ZigZag. He printed three guns in total and was arrested for running afoul of Japan’s strict gun laws.
[More – [VIDEO] How 3-D Printed Guns Evolved Into Serious Weapons in Just One Year – punditfromanotherplanet.com]
Robert VerBruggen writes:
In a new Voxsplainer on gun violence, Dylan Matthews claims:
Protestations of gun rights supporters aside, public health researchers who study firearms generally agree that increased firearm ownership rates are associated with higher rates of homicide. … Developed countries with more guns generally have more homicide; states within the US with more guns have more homicide…
The two assertions at the end are not true, and the first sentence explains why: If you want to give a good account of a debate about gun statistics, you don’t treat the consensus of “public health researchers” as gospel. The field is notorious for its anti-gun bias, and there’s a whole literature of work outside of it.
It’s true (as Matthews notes) that there are some studies showing guns to be associated with increased homicide once other factors have been statistically “controlled” (a highly subjective process that can be manipulated, even subconsciously, to make the data say whatever the researcher wants them to say). But there is no simple relationship between gun ownership and homicide rates as such, either among developed countries or among states in the U.S. Read the rest of this entry »
For WIRED, Andy Greenberg writes: A burgeoning subculture of 3-D printed gun enthusiasts dreams of the day when a lethal firearm can be downloaded or copied by anyone, anywhere, as easily as a pirated episode of Game of Thrones. But the 27-year-old Japanese man arrested last week for allegedly owning illegal 3-D printed firearms did more than simply download and print other enthusiasts’ designs. He appears to have created some of his own.
“With the Liberator we were trying to communicate a kind of singularity, to create a moment…”
Among the half-dozen plastic guns seized from Yoshitomo Imura’s home in Kawasaki was a revolver designed to fire six .38-caliber bullets–five more than the Liberator printed pistol that inspired Imura’s experiments. He called it the ZigZag, after its ratcheted barrel modeled on the German Mauser Zig-Zag. In a video he posted online six months ago, Imura assembles the handgun from plastic 3-D printed pieces, a few metal pins, screws and rubber bands, then test fires it with blanks.
“…The broad recognition of this idea seemed to flip a switch in peoples’ minds…We knew that people would make this their own.”
— Cody Wilson
It’s been a full year since I watched the radical libertarian group Defense Distributed test fire the Liberator, the first fully printable gun, for the first time. Imura is one of a growing number of digital gunsmiths who saw the potential of that controversial breakthrough and have strived to improve upon the Liberator’s clunky, single-shot design. Motivated by a mix of libertarianism, gun rights advocacy and open-source experimentation, their innovations include rifles, derringers, multi-round handguns and the components needed to assemble semi-automatic weapons. Dozens of other designs are waiting to be tested.
The result of all this tinkering may be the first advancements that significantly move 3-D printed firearms from the realm of science fiction to practical weapons. Read the rest of this entry »
Today, Governor Nathan Deal (R) signed into law House Bill 60 , the most comprehensive pro-gun legislation in state history. HB 60 passed in the Georgia Senate by a 37-18 vote on March 18 and in the state House of Representatives by a 112-58 vote on March 20. HB 60 will take effect on July 1, 2014.
HB 60 enacts the following pro-gun reforms for all law-abiding gun owners in Georgia:
- Removes fingerprinting for renewal of Weapons Carry Licenses (WCL).
- Prohibits the state from creating and maintaining a database of WCL holders.
- Creates an absolute defense for the legal use of deadly force in the face of a violent attack.
- Lowers the age to obtain a concealed WCL for self-defense from 21 to 18 for active duty military, with specific training.
- Allows for the use of firearm sound suppressors while hunting.
- Repeals the unnecessary and duplicative state-required license for a firearms dealer, instead requiring only a Federal Firearms License (FFL).
- Prohibits a ban on firearms in public housing, ensuring that the right to self-defense should not be infringed based on where one calls home.
- Codifies the ability to legally carry, with a WCL, in sterile/non-secure areas of airports.
So holds Tuesday’s Delaware Supreme Court decision, says the Washington Post‘s Eugene Volokh, in Doe v. Wilmington Housing Authority) (Del. Mar. 18, 2014). The court applied the Delaware Constitution’s right to bear arms provision — “A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and State, and for hunting and recreational use” — and the court noted that this language may justify broader protection than that given by the Second Amendment. Still, the precedent is likely to prove influential in other states as well, since the case deals with having guns for self-defense, which D.C. v. Heller has held is covered by the Second Amendment. (If the case had dealt with hunting and recreational use, for instance, the matter might well have been different.) An excerpt:
WHA argues that an accidental discharge of a firearm may have serious fatal consequences and that dangers inhere in the increased presence of firearms. But these same concerns would also apply to the area within any apartment — interior locations where the WHA concedes it cannot restrict the possession of firearms for self-defense. The Revised Policy does more than proscribe the unsafe use of a firearm. It also prohibits possession in the public housing common areas except where the firearm is being transported to or from an apartment. In this context, WHA must show more than a general safety concern and it has not done so….
[A]n individual’s interest in the right to keep and bear arms is strongest when “the weapon is in one’s home or business and is being used for security.” Residents have a possessory interest in both their apartments and the common areas. And although Residents cannot exclude other residents or the public from the common areas, their need for security in those areas is just as high for purposes of Section 20 as it would be inside their apartment or business. The common areas are effectively part of the residences. The laundry rooms and TV rooms are similar to those typically found in private residences; and the Residents, their families, and their guests will occupy them as part of their living space.
Postar.com reports the forms “are used for people to register with New York State Police firearms that meet the state’s definition of military-style assault weapons.”
The Saratogian reports that “hundreds of gun rights advocates” turned out for the rally, which turned out to be “equal parts a rally against Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a teach-in on how to not comply with [the] SAFE Act assault weapons registration law.”
If a Well-Regulated Militia is Necessary to the Security of a Free State, are we Insecure? Or Unfree?Posted: March 10, 2014
No militia means more intrusive law enforcement
Glenn Harlan Reynolds writes: The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
For a while, some argued that the so-called “prefatory clause” — “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” — somehow limited the “right of the people” to something having to do with a militia. In its recent opinions of District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago, the Supreme Court has made clear that the Second Amendment does recognize a right of individuals to own guns, and that that right is in no way dependent upon membership in a militia. That seems to me to be entirely correct.
“A professional standing army could turn on the people, placing its loyalty with its paymasters rather than with those it was supposed to protect. The militia, on the other hand, couldn’t betray the people because it was the people.”
But there is still that language. If a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state, then where is ours? Because if a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state, it follows that a state lacking such a militia is either insecure, or unfree, or possibly both.
For law enforcement, the militia has been replaced by professional police, with SWAT teams, armored vehicles and Nomex coveralls; for military purposes, the militia has been replaced by the National Guard, which despite a thin patina of state control is fundamentally a federal military force.
In the time of the Framers, the militia was an armed body consisting of essentially the entire military-age male citizenry. Professional police not having been invented, the militia was the primary tool for enforcing the law in circumstances that went beyond the reach of the town constable, and it was also the primary source of defense against invasions and insurrection.
Despite anti-gun hysteria following shootings, the trend is toward expanding gun rights.
For USA Today, Glenn Harlan Reynolds writes: This past weekend, the Tennessee Law Review held a symposium on “New Frontiers in the Second Amendment.” It was a follow-up, of sorts, to a symposium held almost 20 years ago, and boy, has a lot changed since then.
“Overall, the trend of the past couple of decades seems to be toward expanding gun rights, just as the trend in the 1950s and 1960s was toward expanding free speech rights”
In 1995, Second Amendment scholarship had been almost entirely nonexistent for decades, and what little there was (mostly written by lobbyists for gun-control groups) treated the matter as open-and-shut: The Second Amendment, we were told, protected only the right of state militias (or as former Chief Justice Warren Burger characterized them, “state armies“) to possess guns.
Lower court opinions, to the extent they existed, were largely in agreement, and the political discussion, such as it was, generally held that anyone who believed that the Second Amendment might embody a judicially enforceable right for ordinary citizens to possess guns was a shill — probably paid — for the NRA. Whatever the Second Amendment meant, it did not, we were told, protect a right of individuals to possess firearms, enforceable in court against governmental entities that infringed on individuals’ gun possession.
But then came a wave of scholarship, much of it by eminent constitutional scholars ranging from William Van Alstyne, to Laurence Tribe, to Sanford Levinson, toRobert Cottrol, exploring the original purposes and understanding of the Second Amendment. By the turn of the millennium, it was well-established among scholars that the Second Amendment was intended to protect an individual right to arms, one that would be enforceable in court against infringements by states, municipalities and the federal government.
[Glenn Reynolds is the author of The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself look for it at Amazon]
For Washington Examiner, the Michael Barone writes: Over the last 25 years, we have had related national debates over proposed federal gun-control laws designed to restrict access to certain firearms. But only one piece of major legislation has passed Congress, in the 1994 crime bill, and the electoral backlash against many of its supporters in the 1994 midterm elections convinced many Democrats inclined to support such restrictions to try to sidestep the issue.
But Congress and the laws it passes are not the only determinants of facts on the ground. Starting with a Florida law in 1987, most states have passed concealed weapons laws, allowing law-abiding citizens who have had relevant training to obtain licenses to carry concealed weapons. Such laws have been supplemented by court decisions covering a few states since the U.S. Supreme Court decision inHeller v. District of Columbia in 2008, which recognized that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms.
The chart below shows how Shall Issue laws for the licensed carrying of firearms for self-defense have become the American norm.
By 2014, the percentage of people living in the Red states, with no possibility of even applying for a permit, has declined to zero. Illinois’ 2013 reforms ended the problem of states not even having a process theoretically available. (The problem persists in DC, but this chart is only for states.)
As of January 2014, about 2/3 of the population lived in a Green state, with a Shall Issue licensing statute.
Eugene Volokh reports:
So holds today’s Peruta v. County of San Diego (9th Cir. Feb. 13, 2014) (2-1 vote). The court concludes that California’s broad limits on both open and concealed carry of loaded guns — with no “shall-issue” licensing regime that assures law-abiding adults of a right to get licenses, but only a “good cause” regime under which no license need be given — “impermissibly infringe on the Second Amendment right to bear arms in lawful self-defense.”
WASHINGTON (AP) — A New Jersey college student wants Congress to stand strong against tougher gun laws. A Colorado software executive thinks the federal government goes too far in protecting gun rights. A child-care worker in Wisconsin just wants the shootings in her city to stop.
Even as the debate over tightening national gun control laws is rekindled after the latest mass shooting, a growing number of Americans are questioning the government’s stewardship of the right to bear arms, according to a poll by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Asked to size up how the government is doing on protecting a variety of rights and freedoms spelled out in the Bill of Rights and federal law, Americans pointed to slippage almost everywhere but most dramatically on the matters of guns and voting rights. The impression of a declining track record on guns rights turned up everywhere: among Republicans and Democrats, men and women, young and old, city dwellers and those in small towns.
Overall, 44 percent of Americans think the federal government is doing a good job of safeguarding the right to keep and bear arms, down from 57 percent two years earlier. Of course, not everyone wants the government to go all out to safeguard Second Amendment rights, and that affects how people assess the government’s success at protecting the right. Read the rest of this entry »
Civil Rights Update: Illinois Supreme Court Rules Second Amendment Protects Carrying Outside the HomePosted: September 13, 2013
As the Seventh Circuit correctly noted, neither Heller nor McDonald expressly limits the second amendment’s protections to the home. On the contrary, both decisions contain language strongly suggesting if not outright confirming that the second amendment right to keep and bear arms extends beyond the home. Moreover, if Heller means what it says, and “individual self-defense” is indeed “the central component” of the second amendment right to keep and bear arms, then it would make little sense to restrict that right to the home, as “[c]onfrontations are not limited to the home.” Indeed, Heller itself recognizes as much when it states that “the right to have arms *** was by the time of the founding understood to be an individual right protecting against both public and private violence.”
I think the result is correct, because Heller‘s reasoning does indeed apply to carrying for self-defense in most public places, and not just in the home. Read the rest of this entry »
In the past few days, Forbes writer Andy Greenberg broke a pair of dramatic stories on Cody Wilson’s quest to build an untraceable plastic gun using commercially available 3D-printing technology. First, Greenberg publishedexclusive photos of the completed firearm, then he reported on a successful test firing of a live .380 cartridge.
Although the technology is still in its infancy, Wilson’s innovation has already sparked heated debate. Some gun rights advocates (including Wilson) argue this means current gun laws will soon be obsolete. They welcome the fact that home hobbyists may soon be able to build functioning firearms without any background check or government record. Others are alarmed, concerned that this would enable criminals to more easily obtain firearms. Congressman Steve Israel has already stated his intent to modify current laws to ban such guns.
However, Congressman Israel may be too late. Once thousands of motivated hobbyists start downloading open source gun designs and posting their refinements, we’ll likely see rapid technical advances. But Cody Wilson’s real impact on America may not be technological but political — and in a good way.
Government will likely be unable to suppress this application of 3D-printing technology. True, they could attempt to outlaw the possession of such untraceable guns, but that would be as ineffective as current laws banning the possession of marijuana. Similarly, the government could attempt to require 3D-printers be installed with special software that only allows them to build objects from data files certified as “approved” by the authorities. But given how quickly hackers routinely “jailbreak” software restrictions on smartphones, the same would likely happen to software restrictions on 3D-printers. In other words, the genie is probably already out of the bottle.
Nonetheless, how likely is an attempted government crackdown on 3D-printed guns? One clue comes from ATF agent Charles Houser, head of their National Tracing Center Division. In a recent CNBC interview, Houser stated that there was no “legitimate purpose” to making an untraceable gun and that seeking to build one indicated “criminal intent.”
However, current law already allows home hobbyists to build their own firearms provided they are for personal use only (and not for sale). Such guns are already “untraceable.” 3D-printing doesn’t change that basic fact — it merely allows a wider range of hobbyists without specialized machine shop skills to do what’s already legal.
The unease expressed over 3D-printed guns mirrors similar unease following the adoption of widespread cryptography for secure communications. Some opponents were concerned that ordinary Americans could use this technology to engage in criminal activities undetected by the government. In the 1990s, the Clinton administration pushed for the adoption of hardware backdoors to allow government to read otherwise secure e-mail as it saw fit. Even now, the FBI continues to seek wider powers to monitor citizens’ electronic communications on the grounds it’s necessary to stop terrorism.
Yes, the government has a legitimate role in stopping the misuse of cryptography for evil purposes, such as terrorist plots or the dissemination of digital contraband such as child pornography or pirated software. But that should not be a pretext for giving the government excessive power over innocuous private communications.
Similarly, government has a legitimate role in stopping gun crime. But this should not be a pretext for restricting 3D-printing technology.
Furthermore, University of Chicago professor (and co-author of the bestsellerFreakonomics) Steve Levitt has noted that most proposed gun controls have minimal impact on gun crime. One of the few ideas that does work is enhanced prison sentences for crimes committed with a gun. According to Levitt, the gun laws that work are ones “where you’re not tying it to the gun itself, you’re tying it to the use of guns that you don’t want.” This makes perfect sense. The government should not punish gun ownership by responsible adults, nor legitimate sporting or self-defense uses. Instead, the government should punish the misuse of a gun by criminals.
Citizens do not have a general obligation to communicate with others in a way that the government can readily understand. An honest person can have many legitimate personal or business reasons for private communications. Most Americans recognize this is not a sign of “criminal intent.” If the government has a specific need to monitor someone’s private electronic communications, the burden of proof should be on them to demonstrate their need for a warrant for appropriate wiretapping. Otherwise, anyone using cryptography should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Similarly, honest citizens should not have a general obligation to disclose to the government what firearms they’ve built or bought, provided they are for honest purposes. An honest person may wish to keep this information private to avoid becoming the target of thieves or unwanted political attacks. A desire for private firearms ownership is not proof of “criminal intent.” And if the government has a specific concern that someone is planning a crime with a gun (or any other tool), the burden of proof should be on the government prior to any search or other invasion of his privacy. Otherwise, anyone owning an “untraceable” 3D-printed gun should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Wilson’s innovation could thus spark a much-needed re-examination of American gun laws, including the current paradigm of imposing ever-increasing restrictions on millions of honest gun owners in an attempt to stop relatively fewer bad guys from committing gun crimes. By making it harder (if not nearly impossible) for the government to regulate gun possession and transfers, his development could move the government to instead (properly) focus its efforts on punishing gun misuse.
That is why I’m encouraged by the development of 3D-printed guns. Not because I want bad guys committing more gun crimes. But because I hope it sparks some vigorous discussions on deeper themes such as “innocent until proven guilty” and the proper scope of government. If enough people start debating these questions, Cody Wilson will have done America a real service.
(Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
A West Virginia teen who was arrested and suspended for wearing a National Rifle Association T-shirt to school returned to class Monday wearing the same shirt that got him into trouble.
Jared Marcum, 14, was joined by about 100 other students across Logan County who wore shirts with a similar gun rights theme in a show of support for free speech.
Ben White, the Charleston lawyer representing the Logan eighth-grader, said the Sons of the Second Amendment, a gun rights group, purchased and distributed the shirts.
Jared, a student at Logan Middle School, was arrested and suspended Thursday after he was pulled from a cafeteria line and told to remove or turn his shirt inside-out an order he refused.
“I’m still confused, thoroughly confused,” he told a local TV station. “The school didn’t even make a statement to the news agencies, much less myself.”
School officials told the eighth-grader Monday that his one-day suspension was appropriate because he was being disruptive.
Mr. White said Jared was exercising his right to free speech and did not disrupt anything.
Video evidence in the case, Mr. White said, indicates that the situation in the cafeteria deteriorated when a teacher raised his voice while confronting Jared. Other students jumped up on benches and began chanting Jared’s name.
“I think the disruption came from the teacher,” Mr. White said.
A police officer arrested Jared after he was sent to the school office and again refused to remove the shirt.
Mr. White said Jared was arrested on two charges of disrupting the educational process and obstructing an officer, but predicted those charges would be dropped.
The case has been turned over to the local juvenile prosecutor.
“My sense is that no charges will be imminent,” Mr. White said.
Jared’s stepfather, Allen Larieris, told The Associated Press that the teen was expressing his support for the Second Amendment right to bear arms by wearing the shirt, which he said did not violate the school’s dress code.
via Washington Times