Abbott & Costello Comedy Meets 3D Gun Hysteria via Alyssa Milano

3D Printed Ghost Gun
3D Printed Ghost Gun

Fayetteville, AR –-( The American political debate today reminds me of the Abbott and Costello baseball routine. We’re using the same language, but we bring our own experiences and interpretations to the conversation to end up talking past each other.

The latest example of this is the fight over using 3-D printers to make firearms. Alyssa Milano, a Twitter celebrity, among some other things, is once again wading into the battle, having written an opinion piece, titled, “A 3D printed gun is downloadable death,” for CNN. It’s too easy here to use the comment by George Bernard Shaw about actors that as long as they speak his lines clearly, the meaning will come through, but she should ask her agent to find a better script for her.

According to Milano, domestic abusers will be able to print out guns that are fully functional and undetectable, guns that cannot be traced as they cross borders into states like Massachusetts or New Jersey, and that soon enough the process will be within the budget of this hypothetical abuser.

Where to begin? At present, 3-D printing of guns is on the level of heavier-than-air aviation in the early days. An airplane has flown for some seconds. H.G. Wells has written a novel, titled, The War in the Air, but where things are heading is all speculation. To come back out of the analogy, a 3-D printed gun is at present a potential plastic pipe bomb while also being a proof of concept. Milano is right that technology gets cheaper by the day, and she’s right to anticipate working guns coming out of something that looks a lot like a Federation replicator in a few years.

What she doesn’t realize, apparently, is that making guns at home that you don’t intend to sell is legal—under federal law, anyway—and has been possible for mechanically incline people for century.

The concern at the heart of Milano’s article is that the government won’t be able to control the production of guns, but her script writer ought to think the matter through. Distributed power is exactly what a free society is about.

Alyssa Milano
Alyssa Milano

This is not just about gun rights. It’s not even primarily so, since we’re not talking about gun transfers, but the exchange of ideas. This is in fact much more of a First Amendment case, the rights of speech and the press being the ones under attack.

As I’ve noted for a long time, people who hate one right generally hate more than one. The ability to share information is a fundamental right. And to counter an objection that I expect, we’re not talking about designs for nuclear weapons. That would be the proprietary work of government agencies, not something that the creator of the design is willing to share for free.

In any case, both the designs for nuclear weapons and for guns are already widely available. Milano may as well try to restrict access to information on making fire or knapping flint. The technology is out there, and barring social collapse, it’s not going away. Milano’s article raises important questions—whose speech is acceptable, what does the Second Amendment mean, and does anyone know where 3-D printing will go—but she demonstrates that she has no particular knowledge or skill to find the answers.

I, for one, won’t be charmed into signing over a blank check to her work against rights.