horse. barn door. etc.

Apparently the Federal Government is still operating under some marked delusions as to how the internet works and what they can or cannot actually control. Granted, this time it is the Department of State Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance, rather than the White House, but you would think they would at least share notes.

Anywise, by now, you have all heard that the above office demanded that Defense Distributed remove the plans for their "Liberator" pistol from DefCAD, along with another nine designs for creating other firearms, suppressors, and parts. Surprisingly, despite claiming previously he would not, Cody Wilson went ahead and yanked the files in question… but you and I both know that is not the end of it.

The files have already made it to Pirate Bay, where thousands of "seeders" are ensuring it propagates to the infinite corners of the internet, and while I was doing my part to propagate the spread of the Liberator itself, in light of this, I have decided to pull that file for now; still, if a single person downloaded it, my purpose for hosting it was fulfilled.

And that is the problem the State Department, and the White House, face – once you put something on the internet, it is functionally impossible to remove it. Teenagers discover this all the time, but apparently they have neglected to pass on the lesson to their parents who work for / are the feddies.

Unfortunately, our problem goes a bit deeper than the files being yanked from DefCAD, as Joe Huffman endeavors to explain. I cannot say as though I understand the full details (and given that professional lawyers do not either, I am not ashamed by that admission), but the short-and-sweet is that the International Traffic in Arms Regulations were written way before the internet became what we know today, and now it appears that an overly zealous State Department official could potentially prosecute someone for an ITAR violation if that someone puts up a video of how to employ a hasty sling and that video is viewed by a foreigner.

Let that sink in for a second. Go read Joe’s post if you do not believe me. The concept of requiring all FFLs, firearm trainers, and everyone else even vaguely related to the firearm industry (up to and including we mere webloggers?) pay $2000+ a year for the "privilege" of engaging in that business, even though there may not be any export transpiring at all, should be enough to send chills down your spine.

"Gun control" failed as legislation, but damned if it does not look like they are going to try to shoehorn it in through regulation. I wish I could say I was surprised.

I wish I could also say I will be surprised when the First Amendment loses its case in the name of "national security"….

(Also, it is worth noting that the Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance did not at all care about Fast and Furious exporting actual firearms to Mexico. Interesting.)

13 thoughts on “horse. barn door. etc.”

  1. There is greater hypocrisy here than just the Fast and Furious debacle. Don’t forget that Obama signed exemptions to the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008 that made it perfectly legal for the US to distribute “defense articles” to regimes that were known to use child soldiers.

    This administration wouldn’t look twice at its own distribution of “defense services,” but for all of us plebs, we’re guilty until proven innocent.

  2. I was ignoring the printable files. Now I will (intermittently) be one of those seeders.

  3. I really didn’t care about the printable gun, i dont, or ever foresee myself having a 3d printer. If i do, the 3d laser rifle will be printable by then. But when i read last night it was down, i went and got a copy. I will add it to expedient firearms and another improvised weapons book subtitled as the feinstein edition, (lol) that will sit in a folder forever forgotten about.

  4. In California Sen Leyland Yee wants to put regulations on 3d printers. Seemingly ignoring the small detail that DefDist used a $80000 Stratasis machine. I think I may print a liberator, or some magazines.

  5. I have some experience with ITAR. So I’ll see if my explanation helps.

    ITAR was intended to regulate the exportation of arms and arms technology. Let’s say you have a Republic Inc Widget 43a that’s used in a radar set.

    Well not only does the Widget 43a itself fall under ITAR but so doe blueprints for the 43a and technical data on how the 43a performs and operates even.

    That’s because the latter two could allow country B to make their own 43a’s.

    And yes, that is a clear restriction on the First Amendment. Even if Republic Inc clearly owned the blueprints to the Widget 43a (and say it wasn’t made with the help of DoD money), their right to distributed information on said Widget is highly restruted… if that distribution would go international.

    Those of you looking at the internet or such “modern” communications as trade journals and fax machines should be raising eyebrows about now.

    But yes, the “official” reason State came in with the ban hammer was because they were afraid of “evil furriners” getting our plastic zip gun tech.

    This is also why many self defense trainers have to have ITAR based forms where they tell any students that they cannot spread what they learned to other nations.

    In many ways what DefDib did was a shot across the bow of ITAR iself. As ITAR is based around the idea that a blueprint of a gun is the same thing as a gun.

    And I’m still kicking myself for not seeing this coming.

  6. If anyone did not get to download the file while it was easily accessible and does not want to put up with the potential dangers/hassles of torrents, let me know. I can probably point you in the right direction.

    @ Nathan: Oh, the federal government has always been able to get away with doing things we mere mortals could never dream of personally attempting… and, unfortunately, that mentality is only starting to sift down into state and local governments (see the handling of the LA cop-killer as a prime example).

    @ Ted N: While simultaneously being the most transparent administration ever. *cough*

    @ Volfram: Something tells me you are far from alone in that mentality.

    @ dave w: I do not have a 3D printer, and even if I did, I probably would not fire a printed Liberator produced from a printer I can afford, but it is less the actual execution and more the knowledge that I could if I really wanted / needed to that makes me merrily hop on this particular bandwagon. Information is power, and the great thing is that it does not take up a whole lot of hard drive space.

    @ LiquidFlorian: My understanding is that most of the recent FDM units DefCAD has produced were made on a $25k machine; still not affordable to the average American, but getting closer. And, realistically, 3D printers are now where cell phones were in the 80’s, and given the current development of technology, I would imagine it to be less than 30 years before those $25k, and even those $80k, machines are surpassed by something in the $2k range or less.

    That said, Yee is, and has always been, an imbecile.

    @ The Jack: In that case, if DefDist’s plans were an opening shot at ITAR, even on the way to something bigger and better, then I will be quietly cheering them on… from way over here, hopefully outside of the splash zone. Legislation of that type was ridiculous to start with, and the fact that it has not been updated with changing technologies and methods of communications just goes to show much of a failure our government is for keeping up with… anything. It will be interesting to see how this all falls out, but I fear it will have very serious implications indeed for we mere lowly webloggers, if not a host of other people in our community.

  7. Aye Linoge, RobertaX has another primer on ITAR and State

    ITAR is something that needs some real reform and it is VERY abusable. Given that the feds determine what does and does not count. And that decision directly affects the Free Speech of a person with said knowledge.

    Again ITAR is another example of a legitimate role of government (maintaining defense capability for war) being expanded to fill whatever civil space there is (banning the distribution of documents the feds don’t like).

  8. I’d be an FFL/SOT manufacturer for R&D purposes, if it wasn’t for ITAR fees. I’d even accept a total prohibition on export (licensing innovations to an ITAR registered manufacturer if necessary), if by doing so I could be exempted from the ITAR registration requirement. If ITAR registration fees were more in line with FFL fees, it would also be worth it. But not at current levels. . .

    Since I’m interested primarily in R&D as a part time deal, once FFL, SOT, and ITAR fees are added together, it’s not economically feasible. even if I was willing to accept the net loss, ATF will simply to nonrenew the FFL and SOT BECAUSE it is a net loss.

  9. @ The Jack: At the very least, allowances need to be made if the technology and/or information is already demonstrably available overseas… Granted, that would completely undermine the ITAR to the point of making it futile and useless in the extreme, but that was rather my point :).

    @ Geodkyt: You might be assuming the BATFE wants Americans to be able to be engaged in firearm-related R&D, or even to have an FFL for the ability of having an FFL. No evidence supports this, unfortunately…

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