[Discuss] Reactions to Defense Distributed?

Matt Maier blueback09 at gmail.com
Thu Oct 31 21:27:20 UTC 2013

Here's the stuff I wrote about it at the time.

It parallels Alicia and Michael's general impression that 3D printing
guns is not the game-changer some people perceive it to be. My
impression is that the open/maker community thinks it's more
interesting as a potential stimulus for unnecessary regulation than
anything else. People less familiar with the technology downplay the
inherent complexity of additive manufacturing and assume it's magical.
I wouldn't be the first person to point out that it's actually far
easier to make a gun out of $10 worth of hardware store parts than a
3D printer. The danger of guns has always been in the bullets anyway,
not in the gun mechanism itself.

By way of some analysis, I think the open source community is
primarily motivated by a desire to find the best technical solution to
any given problem. Good technical solutions are inherently amoral;
they can be used for good or evil. I also think open source is based
on the principle that you aren't allowed to control what anyone else
does with your work. So I think the community is founded on an
implicit assumption that releasing a new, uncontrolled tool into the
world will produce far more good than bad.

For example, my first blog interview was with some guys who made an
open source squib firing system for visual effects.
What they created is, effectively, an easy to afford, easy to make,
and easy to hide radio control system for bombs. Their bombs are small
ones used for movies. There's no technial reason the same system
couldn't set off large bombs for other purposes. But when asked about
their philosophy, they didn't think that any hypothetical dangers from
misuse were worthy of comment. They just thought open source was a
good idea in general.

So I don't expect the bulk of the community to ever be interested in
hardware that is primarily intended to be a weapon, but I also don't
expect the bulk of the community to be bothered when a minority
inevitably does focus on weapons. Whether or not something is
dangerous has a lot more to do with the intention (malice) and
capability (incompetence) of the user than in the hardware itself. The
open source community, by definition, restrains itself from exercising
any control over who uses their work, regardless of intentions and


On 10/31/13, Michael Weinberg <mweinberg at publicknowledge.org> wrote:
> It may (or may not) be relevant to keep in mind the history that occurred
> before Cody's project.  The first 3D printed gun upload by HaveBlue was
> built upon work by the CNCGuns.com community.  This community, which was
> new to me but has been around for some time, had long made available files
> that could be downloaded, put into a machine, and turned into a (metal)
> gun.  So, while DD got a lot of attention, it raised a lot fewer
> policy/legal questions than initially appeared.
> Or at least that's what we have been telling all of the lawmakers that we
> met with since the first stories broke.
> For what it's worth,
> here<http://www.publicknowledge.org/blog/3d-printing-guns-and-dealing-new-uses>'s
> the blog post version of our messaging to lawmakers.  I know it isn't
> exactly what you are looking for, but it is a response that has resonated
> reasonably well with people who might try to regulate 3D printing.  So it
> might possibly be a helpful data point.
> -michael
> On Thu, Oct 31, 2013 at 1:06 PM, alicia <amgibb at gmail.com> wrote:
>> There's a hackaday article, which fits somewhat into those categories,
>> maybe more of a hacker community, but I think it's what you're getting
>> at:
>> http://hackaday.com/2013/05/06/the-first-3d-printed-gun-has-been-fired-and-i-dont-care/
>> But that's the only one I can think of from the hacker/maker community.
>> My personal opinion is tech can be used for good and evil as cited by
>> Technological
>> determinism <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_determinism> and
>> Neil
>> Postman <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Postman>, which you've
>> probably already read :)
>> Alicia
>> On Thu, Oct 31, 2013 at 10:54 AM, Catarina Mota
>> <catarinamfmota at gmail.com>wrote:
>>> Hi all,
>>> I'm trying to take a deeper look at the open source, 3D printable
>>> weapons
>>> issue. Although I found many videos and articles about Defense
>>> Distributed,
>>> I haven't been able to find any comments or reactions from the open
>>> source
>>> / maker community. Does anyone know of any public reactions or comments
>>> on
>>> this topic?
>>> Thanks,
>>> Catarina
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> discuss mailing list
>>> discuss at lists.oshwa.org
>>> http://lists.oshwa.org/listinfo/discuss
>> _______________________________________________
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> --
> Michael Weinberg, Vice President, PK Thinks
> 202-861-0020 (o) | @mweinbergPK
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