Landmark ruling allows for the legal distribution of firearm blueprints online.
Gun rights activists scored a huge victory last week when a Texas-based group, Defense Distributed, won a federal case allowing for the publication of downloadable designs for commercial firearms.
Cody Wilson, a crypto-anarchist and founder of Defense Distributed, filed a lawsuit against the US government in 2013 when the State Department ordered the non-profit organization to remove the schematics of a gun that Wilson designed called, The Liberator.
The State Department said that the uploaded designs violated International Trade in Arms Regulations on how guns could be exported. With the ruling, the government agreed to amend regulations around their control of the technical information of firearms.
“The Internet is now the commons in a way that libraries are in the past,” said Wilson in an interview with Wired. His organization plans to become the premier open source repository of firearm files within a digital landscape where sharing information and ideas online is the norm.
While gun control advocates continue to call for more regulation, making your own weaponry is quite legal in the United States. Under federal law, an individual can make a gun for personal use whether they have a license or not. Since the introduction of 3D printers for public use, gun makers have been employing the technology to build firearms.
Roderick ‘Dreak’ Byrd, co-owner of Black Diamond Firearms & Training, located in Charlotte, North Carolina says, “Its not against the law to manufacture your own guns. A lot of people don’t realize that, especially a lot of Black people don’t realize that. It’s not that big of deal because it’s not illegal anyway.”
Byrd explains, “If you’re given the blueprint than those that do have the ability to do so, and the equipment… can manufacture guns all day long as they don’t give them away. And without serial numbers.”
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) reports that the manufacturing of guns has skyrocketed since 2012, right after the election of Barack Obama. As of April 2017, the numbers show that 5,203,489 guns have been registered. However, homemade guns are untraceable weapons, called ghost guns, and are not required for registration in most states, leaving the actual amount of DIY guns unknown.
The increase of gun purchases combined with the escalated gun deaths in the US prompted Byrd and his partners, Justin Pewter and Roman Townsend, to open a gun store and offer training as a way to provide holistic education to gun users. “We got into it because [of] the … people who opened up their own schools. The education is not good. A lot of the instructors are white men who wouldn’t care if you got your hair blown off.”
Running trainings that focus on safety and surviving encounters, the African-American owners are gaining a reputation for providing comprehensive instruction in a field overrun with white, male teachers of a particular ideology.
“We get a lot of Black people who take our class, but we had a class of 30 white women from a local church. They ended up coming to our class because a few of the men had come to the class previously and they said, ‘Hey, I’d rather my wife take the class with these guys instead of dealing with a [white] male instructor who is chauvinistic.”
While DIY gun production is legal, the new amendments of blueprints that can be downloaded online, still draw a cleave into gun control.