The debate on whether or not average citizens should be allowed to own guns has raged on for many years. People on the far left believe that no one, other than government agents, should have any guns, ever, for any reason. They say that, if the government takes away the guns from all people, while keeping guns for themselves, the government can deter all crime and usher in a never-ending era of peace in which no violence exists. People on the far right believe that any individual should have the right to purchase and own whatever kind of weapons they want for whatever reasons. This right would include the ability to own tanks, rocket launchers, and even nuclear weapons. They claim that if every individual were armed to the teeth, society would reach a completely peaceful state due to the omnipresence of mutually assured destruction– the guarantee that any party engaged in physical conflict will be completely annihilated. The majority of people, in the United States at least, fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. They believe the people have a right to purchase and possess firearms in order to defend themselves from anyone who attempts to harm them. But, this right must be exercised within reason; background checks, limits on what kinds of guns people can have, and mandatory registration– at least on the state level– are needed to make sure that guns don’t get into the hands of people with malicious intent.
Regardless of where one stands on the left-right political spectrum concerning gun control, we can see that, historically, governments have always overstepped their bounds when given the power of enacting restrictive legislation on guns, or anything for that matter. If the people give the government the power to make small restrictions regarding what types of guns people can own, or who can own any guns, there is a very high likelihood that the government will attempt to incrementally, or immediately, expand their gun control regulations so that they are completely illegal to own for any reason. Sometimes governments get lucky, there is a mass shooting that garners the attention of the national media, which will produce so much fear in the hearts of the citizens that they beg the government to take their guns away. In some cases it only takes one incident for the people to completely give up their right to own guns, like in Australia with the Port Arthur Massacre. In other countries, guns are incrementally removed from the hands of the citizens through the passage of multiple laws over an extended period of time, such as the cases of the United States and the United Kingdom.
The dangers of such extreme gun control are evident, no matter how hard those on the far left try to stretch statistics and the rules of logic. They may try to tell you that governments don’t violently oppress a disarmed populous, but that is simply not true. Historically, governments have disarmed the people and violently oppressed them. Nothing about the nature or structure of arbitrary government rule has changed that would make it impossible for governments to do such things. Being unarmed by your government puts you at great risk. Suppose the government does go rouge, it imposes tyrannical laws and rounds up and slaughters any who disobey, and you have no weapons with which to defend yourself from such tyranny. What can you do?
That possibility is precisely why the ownership of guns is a necessity. Politics aside, the potential for government corruption and tyranny is real, and possessing a means of combating that tyranny– apart from the government-controlled voting system– is essential to defending basic human liberties. This essential protection provided by firearms is exactly why tyrannical governments try to disarm their citizens. They don’t want to work for their totalitarian control. Until now, governments have been extremely successful at taking away the people’s guns. The battle for ownership of firearms has been a battle of force against force, guns against guns. So of course the government has always won, they simply have more guns.
But the emergence of a new technology, 3D printing, has forever changed the ways in which individuals can use guns to defend themselves from tyranny. Cody Wilson and his company, Defense Distributed, took the fairly new 3D printing technology, which was being used mainly for fun novelty items, and printed deadly weapons. Although the official mission statement of Defense Distributed is to ensure the protection of the Second Amendment, an amendment to the US Constitution that guarantees Americans the right to possess firearms, this stunning innovation in weapons technology has forever changed the struggle between individuals and governments over the control of weapons. To date, Defense Distributed has developed a fully plastic, printable, and durable AR-15 lower-receiver, high capacity AR-15 magazines, and the highly controversial Liberator pistol. Because Cody Wilson distributed the 3D printer files for his products on the Internet for free, no government can ever put a stop to the 3D printed gun technology.
As the development 3D printed gun technology progresses, and produces higher quality firearms, government gun control will become increasingly irrelevant. It isn’t a stretch to imagine a world in which files for fully printed assault rifles, made entirely of durable plastic– making it cheap to print and undetectable by metal detectors– are stored on the Deep Web and distributed through DarkNet Markets. Protected by the cryptographic technology of the DarkNet, and the simple nature of digital files in general, it will become impossible for governments to eradicate guns. Every human being with access to a 3D printer, which will become widely available as demand lowers the prices, will be able to create an extremely effective and affordable weapon that they can use to defend themselves. Regardless of political ideologies concerning civil liberties and natural rights, whether one agrees with gun control or not, dirt-cheap guns are now available on the Internet and nothing can be done to stop it.
Highly efficient, fully printed guns, distributed to individuals on DarkNet markets will most definitely undermine the world governments’ monopolies on violence. If this technology is fully realized and becomes widely available to the general public, the debate on gun control will be decided. The decision won’t come as a result of a loss or victory in a political debate, however. Real world action on the part of entrepreneurs will end the debate by brute force. Whether or not this essentially unlimited access to guns will prove to be a net positive or negative remains to be seen. One thing is certain, however, the technology has been distributed on decentralized networks, and it isn’t going anywhere, ever.