Guns as a freedom of speech issue

This week EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström expressed concern that disruptive technologies like 3d-printers could challenge the gun control regime. It would only take a few days before her worries were confirmed. This morning, UK media reported that the police has seized a “3d gun printing factory”, a 3d-printer in a private home in Manchester had been used to make a trigger and clip for what is thought to be a gun. It was easy to see it coming, however: in May this year the first shots were fired with a 3d-printed gun called the Liberator (nice touch) developed by Texas-based not for profit organisation Defense Distributed. The US authorities issued a takedown notice, but blueprints spread quickly across file-sharing networks.

Defense Distributed states its mission as follows:

To defend the civil liberty of popular access to arms as guaranteed by the United States Constitution and affirmed by the United States Supreme Court, through facilitating global access to, and the collaborative production of, information and knowledge related to the 3D printing of arms; and to publish and distribute, at no cost to the public, such information and knowledge in promotion of the public interest

…the more guns the better, in other words. The Defense Distributed manifesto is a link to a John Milton speech on the liberty of unlicensed printing. So, there you have it: guns are now a freedom of speech issue.  If you need a case for regulating the digital space, look no further.

Next month, Netopia will publish a report on 3d-printing technology and its potentially disruptive influence on markets, law and society. Watch this space!

UPDATED Since this blog entry was posted, the UK police have revisited their conclusions and are no longer sure the items found are actually pieces for guns. Read more: