Bloomberg is Looking for Fault Lines

I suspect that the true goal of all the bump stock and 3D printing hysteria is to limit home gun smithing and make working on your own firearms a legally risky maneuver. Well, I should say, more legally risky than it already is. You can also reach AR-15s this way without going for a full on ban because the fact that it’s highly customizable. Eliminate the ability to customize without going to a licensed pro and you might not have your ban, but you’ll push the more dedicated owners out of the hobby. Once you start cutting numbers, then the ban is more politically feasible. Where the gun control movement has managed to find success over the years is by finding an exploiting fault lines among gun owners.

At the risk of sounding conspiratorial, I don’t think the bump stock bans that also happened to greatly increase the legal hazard of doing ordinary customizations on a semi-automatic firearm were an accident. If they just wanted a bump stock ban, a bit of a wording change to make the language more precise, and they’d have won without much fight. But they keep pushing the same language in state after state.

Then this 3D printing bullshit blows up into a huge thing. If it were the Brady Campaign, I might just see it as something they view as good fundraising, and dismiss any strategic thought being behind it. But Bloomberg didn’t end up a billionaire by being a fool or an idiot, and Everytown doesn’t really have to worry about fundraising as long as Bloomberg is writing checks. So I’m more inclined to think there’s a plan.

If I’m right, it’s a smart one, and unfortunately has a chance of working. Trying to ban sharing CAD files on the Internet is a fool’s errand, but it’s framing the debate in the public in terms that aren’t immediately favorable to us. My worry is Cody Wilson is picking a huge fight on ground I’m not sure is defensible. Most people, including most gun owners, don’t know shit about what dedicated hobbyists are doing with their guns. They know even less about 3D printing or CNC machining. Ground where ignorance rules is fertile ground for people willing to win by waging disinformation campaigns.

While I argue there are topics in the gun issue that are better off flying under the radar, anything that does that is ripe for exploiting by people looking to scaremonger. The antidote to that is familiarity. Defending home gun smithing will actually be easier when every kid has a 3D printer and CNC machining can be done by anyone without having to know much about machining. The more people tinker, even if they aren’t tinkering with guns, the safer every tinkerer is as long as they don’t throw each other the bus. But are we there yet? That’s what I’m not sure about. The question in my mind is whether Cody Wilson is out too far ahead and inviting a counterattack we can’t defend against, or I’m just too cautious. I’m open to either being true, or both.

16 Responses to “Bloomberg is Looking for Fault Lines”

  1. The_Jack says:

    I was wondering what their plan was. As legally speaking such broad prior restraint on information that is already public knowledge is rather shaky ground.

    But using this as pretext to ban /any/ home MFG and then define it so broadly…

    (On a similar note there’s also legislation to ban /any/ use of 3D printing for firearms. Which could include FFL’s using industrial equipment.)

    This also has a convenient “Goldberg/Snowball” since now amount of regulation would get these files off the internet and stop home mfg (with or without 3D printers).

    But the threat can be constantly present and used to justify law after law.

    (Sure “plastic guns” have been totally illegal for 30 years but that doesn’t mean that bans can’t be demanded!)

    Another factor is Bloomberg and the Trace have been following this for a while. And if they have an idea as to the developments of tech they may see a window closing.

    (There’s also that the emotional demand to “do something!” especially when an issue is complex is very high, and gets higher when people can’t see an easy solution)

    As this technology grows, and as there is more of a tinkerer culture… in an environment where home MGFs of weapons is /legal/ it would be much harder to get bans when people are already living it.

    I suppose if you’re worried about timing you could take some relief that it took so long for the State Department to settle with DD. The frenzy we’re seeing now could have happened years ago.

  2. Ian Argent says:

    DD is making the 1A argument as much as the 2A argument. Which is much better grounds for a favorable-to-us judgement with this supreme court, and even the federal judiciary in general.

    The comparisons to DeCSS and PGP aren’t accidental.

    • The_Jack says:

      It also helps that DD seems to have a good legal team, and is willing to have the legal team fight the battles and take the long game.

      And that they’ll stand back and let others take the distro mantle.

    • PT says:

      Its PGP all over again. A weapon (encryption, guns, etc) that can be used by terrorists!! ZOMG!

      This fight has already been fought an decided, and it has nothing to do with the 2nd Amendment. Its pure 1st Amendment and 2-4 years from now Cody and the Second Amendment Foundation will quietly be receiving checks from numerous state governments regarding their clear violation of his free speech.

  3. Scott Connors says:

    Also, don’t forget that the more outrageous the overreach by the Bloombergs, Giffords, and Bradys of the world, the more likely that a SCOTUS with Brett Kavanaugh will slap them down.

  4. Robert says:

    My mother, who is usually generally pro-gun, was buying into the 3D printed gun hysteria until I outlined the other side of the story that the media was leaving out. I think that when we make a good effort to actually inform people about the issues, these efforts fall flat on their face, but that’s something that’s going to take time and commitment to do.

  5. The_Jack says:

    Time does buy us a lot. And requires informing and patience.

    (Which is why they so often push and rush to get a law passed as quickly and as soon as possible)

    At least one upside is that the AR is a very popular rifle, so the idea of /some/ customization and modular modification is getting more common.

    Even the spread of red dot and the light sights helps.

  6. Mike Q says:

    Long term, a ban on home gunsmithing is a ban on firearms entrepreneurship. Almost every big name in American firearms started off tinkering around in a small shop.

  7. Phillip Shen says:

    I went into the lion’s den yesterday (Media Matters) to see what they were saying about 3D printed guns. I decided to have a little conversation with them, but… yeah you know how they will react.

    I will say this. I framed it as MM and leftists overblowing a situation way out of proportion. Americans have nothing to worry about 3D printed guns, or home made guns more specifically, because they are very rarely used in crime. In the US at least, homemade guns are the domain of DIYers, hobbyists, and gun nerds; criminals ain’t gonna waste their Saturday nights milling out 80% lowers (or running CAD scripts).

    I don’t know if this is the best tactic to use, but that’s the one I used and stuck to, and I do have stats on my side. The other side was not prepared at all, to say the least. They seriously were arguing out of emotion and dropping ad-homs instead. Of course, this is only one interaction, and of course no minds were changed. But considering the amount of sperging out the other side is doing, maybe that will indicate the wind is in our favor. All we have to do is be calm and clearly explain our side.

    We have the stats after all.

  8. Brad says:

    Yes, the Anti-Gun Cult keeps trying to exploit these windows of vulnerability, where the public is largely ignorant of the specific subject under attack, so the AGC can try to stampede the public into supporting a bad law. They’ve been doing that since the ’80s. Heck, arguably since the ’60s.

    And yes, the AGC gets laws passed that way. But is it really a successful long term strategy?

    It really hasn’t moved the ball at the Federal Level. And it only seems to be working in the single-party dominated Blue States, limiting the reach of those laws to 1/3 of the nations population.

    The thing is, I think that the big-lie tactics of the AGC also generates partisans for our own side. Especially now in the internet age, when anybody can fact check anybody, the cognitive dissonance created when an average joe discovers just how shamelessly the ACG have been lying to him either breaks that joes allegiance or even convinces him to switch to our side.

  9. I suspect most amateur machinists will recognize the threat this is to their strange and (to the public) generally incomprehensible hobby.

  10. SPQR says:

    The move is an attempt to get legislation that will ban 80% lower/frame kits and to get AR 15 uppers serialized, in my opinion.

  11. Weer'd Beard says:

    “At the risk of sounding conspiratorial”

    Why would you be concerned about sounding like that? Is the other side NOT conspiring?

    Same goes for Universal Background Checks, if they WANTED all sales to go through a dealer they’d soften the language to avoid the little bits where lending somebody a gun for the weekend or playing show-and-tell at the range was now an “illegal transfer”, and setting up for an easy backdoor registry.

    Same goes with the 94 AWB, they intentionally pitted the shooters vs the hunters, so they wouldn’t have to fight BOTH when they went after the hunters.

    They TALK about how only Muskets are covered by the 2nd Amendment, then when a muzzle loader with a suppressor is introduced they demand it be banned.

    If you don’t think our enemies are conspiring against us, you’re not paying attention.