Friday, May 10, 2013

The US Government and King Canute

So the State Department is attempting to suppress the blueprints for 3-D printable firearms ...

You can hold any opinion you like about the propriety or morality of spreading the information about how to create your own weapons via 3-D printers around the planet, but at this point (sorry if I offend your sensibilities) your opinion is meaningless.

The information is out there.  It has been downloaded and copied to mirror sites (many far out of reach of the US government) millions of times.

Suppressing knowledge, even potentially dangerous knowledge, has always been a fool's game, which is to say:  something the government constantly attempts.

The height of irony, of course, is for the State Department to take this action under the pretext that publishing the blueprints violates arms trades regulations.

The State Department presides over the largest arms trade operation on the planet, and will sell virtually anything to virtually anybody.  There are multiple conflicts now where US arms are being provided to both sides.

So instead of believing that the State Department is somehow motivated by the idea of keeping us all safer, my best guess is that its clients (the arms manufacturing industry) demanded that action be taken to keep their profits safe.


Duffy said...

see also; The Streisand Affect

Delaware Watch said...

I imagine if 3D printable nukes were possible, the State Department would take a similar stance and you'd suspect their motives weren't about the public's interest. It's the old, predictable libertarian refrain: government is incapable of any decency a priori.

Steve Newton said...

Way to miss the main point, Dana, that I think suppressing this information is impossible.

But as to your second point, it is a nice extension of the argument to absurdity, but did you ever examine how much of our export arms trade is in fact in small arms?

Nor did you object yesterday when I suggested that gun manufacturers will eventually cut a deal on domestic gun control to save their export markets.

But in this case I am not doing libertarian paranoia.

I have worked in serious research on this topic of arms trade and the kickbacks between government and the major manufacturers for nearly two decades.

What I've learned is that most often the person in charge of enforcing the State Department regs is, you guessed it, a former gun manufacturing lobbyist or an aircraft manufacturing lobbyist.

It's also funny that you don't complain when I pillory the Defense Department for the same things.

Frankly, this libertarian would put pretty strong restraints on our arms export business overall because I don't approve of using weapons as a tool of foreign policy.

Delaware Watch said...

No, I got your main point. Because we can't stop the spread of information about making plastic guns, we shouldn't make it illegal to do so. You see I did get the point: because we can stop the spread of information about making nukes, let's not make it illegal to do so. Damn if I didn't make an argument just like that above.

Now here is something I've wanted to mention to you before. I am put off by your frequent counterargument that takes the form "I noticed you didn't mention...." It's interesting that you ignored..., " etc. I wouldn't mind if you were a better psychic. But actually you are a bad one. My overlooking some of your points has nothing to do with me finding them daunting. It has entirely to do with me, most of the time, finding it difficult to write long and thorough replies on my phone. Sorry, but that's it. Besides, your mind reading counterargument is just a shitty way to argue. And here's the thing; you are sophisticated enough to know that.

Steve Newton said...

If I am not supposed to mind read, how would I know that the brevity of your answers is because you are responding via phone not computer?

As for the "shitty argument" meme:
It is no more shitty than your intellectually lazy attribution of every point I make that disagree with as some form of Libertarian nonsense rather than disagreeing with it on the merits. You rarely have trouble attributing unspoken motives to me, yet you howl like a stuck pig when the same is done to you.

Should it be illegal to distribute files with the information on how to print firearms? It is currently NOT illegal to disseminate the information about how to build a nuke, or about how to make ricin, or about how to develop computer viruses. Why are none of those illegal, according to State?

My answer is that none of those items involves direct competition to the client corporations that benefit from the import/export restrictions on weapons.

If the government really wanted to stop or at least hinder the spread of 3-D printed weapons instead of safeguarding the profits of these corporations, a much more effective strategy would be to flood the internet with copies of nearly identical files for making such weapons that do not work, and make people without the tech savvy to tell the difference have to wade through a minefield of useless garbage.

That would make more sense than making information illegal.

NCSDad said...

It really does not matter that I have the plans. They make it easier, but are not the terminal hurdle. If I know something CAN and HAS been done, that's enough. If properly motivated, I can re-create the work. The trick is in knowing it's possible to do a thing. And that knowledge cannot be put back in the box.

tom said...

oh please, Dana.

detailed information about building nukes has been available on the net since the early '90s.

the government tried to suppress that too. and failed just as miserably, despite the relative ease of doing so in the primitive Internet environment that existed then compared to now.

Delaware Watch said...

From what I've read, these plastic guns are good for about one shot if that. Then they are junk. I saw a film of one in which the gun literally fell apart after it was shot. So it is very difficult to believe that the market of gun manufacturers is threatened by these plastic weapons. So who is threatened? Sometimes things are exactly as they appear (a truth never admitted by those caught up in a flush of paranoia). People flying on planes, people in courthouses which have metal detectors, etc. That's who is threatened by these plastic guns.

tom said...

Perhaps you missed this post from a couple months ago.

Not all 3D-printable guns are crude single shot junk, and the designs will only improve over time as the printers move into the mainstream.

Delaware Watch said...

Tom, I have no doubt that the reliability of these guns will improve over time. And, apparently, some are now capable of firing off more than one shot (actually, all I meant by one shot above was one episode of shooting multiple rounds.. my choice of words were inadverntly misleading). Nevertheless, if the principal argument is that the government is only or principally making this restriction to protect the interests of gun manufacturers, nothing I've come across suggests that the reliability of these plastic guns provides a competitive threat to the guns produced by gun manufacturers. In fact, if the government is really concerned about this hypothesized competitive threat, then not every government agency has gotten the memo. These guns produce a big yawn with the ATF: