The media is once again losing its tiny hive mind, this time over 3D gun printing.
Liberals and their mediot pals are all hot under the collar and fearful that people will be “printing plastic guns” that are “undetectable” by metal detectors. Naturally, this is a lie, but facts never have mattered to the left before, so it is unsurprising that the facts don’t matter in this case.
So, what has caused the media’s new arm waving hysteria? Well, last month the Trump administration reached a settlement with a company seeking to sell plans over the Internet for 3D printed gun parts. This company had been stymied by the Obama administration that denied it permission to release the plans claiming that the printer plans “might” violate gun exporting laws.
According to The Guardian:
The green light came late last month, with a court settlement between the designer of the blueprint and the US state department. Gun rights advocates celebrated.
In a statement greeting the news, the Second Amendment Foundation founder and executive vice-president, Alan Gottlieb, said: “Not only is this a first amendment victory for free speech, it also is a devastating blow to the gun prohibition lobby.”
Defense Distributed, the company behind the blueprint, declared: “The age of the downloadable gun formally begins.”
Guns created using a 3D printer were first introduced in 2013 when “The Liberator” was unveiled by a group called Defense Distributed, a company headed by a 25-year-old Texas law student named Cody Wilson.
Naturally, the left-wing media began lying about this device the second it became public knowledge. Liberals insisted that a plastic gun was created with the sole purpose of passing undetected through a metal detector. This, though, is a lie.
As Glenn Reynolds explains in Popular Mechanics:
The Liberator can be identified at security checkpoints because it contains a chunk of metal—in fact, that component’s only function is to set off metal detectors. This is required by a federal statute, renewed late last year, that bans guns that are undetectable. (Wilson’s gun was a prominent talking point in discussions of the bill.) Nonetheless, it would be possible for someone to manufacture a 3D-printed plastic gun that lacked that part. Such a gun would violate the law, and it wouldn’t be caught by a metal detector.
Well, actually, it probably would. That’s because while the gun might be all-plastic, the ammunition contains metal. Popular Mechanics researchers contacted the TSA, the FBI, and several ammunition and metal-detector companies trying to find out just how much metal it takes to set off an alarm at airport security. No one would cite a figure, but the sensitivity thresholds on the machines are set high enough (to avoid false alarms over zippers or metal buttons) that a single cartridge wouldn’t do it. A magazine containing, say, eight or more cartridges probably would.
And, of course, metal detectors aren’t the last word. In airports, at least, they’re kind of obsolete these days. More modern detectors, such as backscatter-X-ray or millimeter-wave-radar imagers—which look beneath people’s clothes—would detect a plastic gun regardless. So, for that matter, would a simple pat-down. Beyond that, one doesn’t need a 3D printer to manufacture a plastic gun. Yes, the new technology makes it easier, but there are plenty of other ways to work plastic. So, not all plastic guns are 3D-printed. And, in fact, not all 3D-printed guns are plastic.
So, the hysteria on that topic is unfounded. Not a surprise.
That aside, liberals also worried that “everyone” would start printing “untraceable” guns at home leading to an explosion of dangerous guns that cops can’t detect or find.
Well, lets look at why this isn’t likely: These 3D printers cost about $150,000 to buy (and that doesn’t include the supplies, that is just the cost of the printer). An actual, gun company-made AR-15 costs less than $5,000. If someone is in the market for an AR-15, which way do you think they will go? Do you think they’d try to cobbled together $150 grand, or just shell out the five K? You do the math.
But the lies and hysteria have continued unabated. As National Review noted:
One of the most bizarre aspects of the modern gun debate is the extent to which it is still dominated by ignorance and misinformation. One of the most important controversies in American public life rages on, yet media gatekeepers and all too many politicians simply don’t know the most basic facts. They don’t understand the most basic constitutional issues. Even worse, many of them don’t seem to care.
If you pay attention to the news, you know that the Internet is blowing up right now with claims that the Trump administration is “now” “permitting” individuals to share plans for 3D-printed guns, and that this move will “now” allow Americans to make guns at home — including plastic guns of the sort that can be used to penetrate airport and school security.
NR goes on to relate a whole list of lies and garbled facts casually thrown around by the misinformed media and then went into the legal reasons for Obama’s temporary ban and the reversal under Trump.
But the recap of just how wrong the media has been on the issue is important:
“Downloadable guns are a real thing because of the Trump administration.”
False: 3D-printed guns were legal regardless of the outcome of the case, and plans for 3D-printed guns were widely available online.
“Individuals will now be able to log on to a website, and if they have access to a 3D printer, print fully functional and totally undetectable firearms.”
Misleading: The word “now” is deceptive. Individuals were able to do this before the Trump administration’s settlement, and they would have been able to do so even if the Trump administration kept litigating the case. Moreover, it’s important to note that possessing “totally undetectable” firearms violates federal law.
“All of this is because the Trump administration quietly settled a lawsuit with Cody Wilson, a 3D-gun creator who had sued the federal government for being forced to take down his downloadable 3D guns back in 2013.”
False: As the Fifth Circuit clearly stated, manufacture and possession of a plastic pistol or plastic lower receiver (subject to the Undetectable Firearms Act) “is legal for United States citizens and will remain legal for United States citizens regardless of the outcome of this case.”
Lastly NR gave readers this:
3D plans are still widely available. They’ve been widely available. And it’s odd to refer to the plans as an “existential threat to our state” when the original justification for the Obama administration’s action was concern over arms exports.
Why does this keep happening? Why do media outlets and politicians continue to spread false information and then — when called on it — remain proudly ignorant and instead condemn so-called “gunsplaining”?
Oh, we already know why this keeps happening. The media and liberals are all lairs who want to destroy the Second Amendment and any chance they get to lie in order to scare people is a chance they will grab with gusto.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.