Business & Finance

3D-Printed Gun Creates an Alarming Situation for Crypto Community

Even though a 3D printed gun and cryptocurrency might seem like unrelated topics, the close inspection of 3D printed firearms by the blockchain groups says otherwise. Apparently, it is becoming a large concern for the U.S. interest groups as well, as reported by CoinDesk. The authoritative figures on the side are also concerned about the free speech rights and regulation policies of crypto and are also working on creating policies to avoid future uncertainties. In the wider aspect, the media comes in and raises questions about ethics followed and approved by blockchain groups and their political standing.

An issuance of temporary restraining order (TRO) by a federal judge for the Defense Distributed brought everyone’s attention to the production of weapons whose designed can be easily developed and altered through design software such as Revit and AutoCAD. This has brought attention to Defense Distributed, especially because it is owned and governed by the crypto-revolutionary, Cody Wilson. The issuance of the order resulted in firms based in Austin, Texas being prevented from providing these design files online. This was a step taken mainly for the security of people as giving them the power to print weapons at their disposal might lead to illegal activity with no one to take the blame for it in the future. The machines, through which this can be printed, are also easily available in the form of a 3D printer or a computer numerical control (CNC) milling machine.

There’s a notion in the crypto community that software is unimpeachable protected by the First Amendment. That’s simply not the case.

If someone develops and implements software that runs afoul of U.S. law, they could face liability.

Only recently, Cody Wilson had celebrated his success against the federal government and settled the cases, making the technical details available online and for inspection. This created an outbreak among groups who hold interest in export rules violations. Alongside, the some outrage was also experienced by Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, right after which there were lawyers swarming all over the states and in Columbia, giving their best to sue the figures in the picture. The claim being they violated the correct procedure law for supply of a commodity, under the 10th Amendment of the Constitution. The outcome was the TRO, which was abided by the Defense Distributed. This stopped the firm from posting the files online. But as we all know, once something is up on the internet, it never really goes away.  Not until the demand still exists for it.

Could there be more to these potentially harmful online postings?

Cody Wilson is a famous guy in the crypto world, because of the role he played in producing Darkwallet, which is a bitcoin wallet with increased privacy. He is also known for his campaigns to shake down the Bitcoin Foundation when the company was having a difficult time. But this time, when it came to the power struggle, experienced after the struggle of Defense Distributed, the blockchain community wondered if the matter is of much concern than it really appears to be.

After the procedural questions in the process of the law suit, it all came down to whether these files carry hidden codes which may be a cause for future disruptive activities. The director of research at blockchain industry advocacy group, Coin Center, in Washington, D.C, Peter Van Valkenburgh, said;

Both cryptocurrency protocol software and AutoCAD files may be protected speech under the 1st Amendment. Thus, in either case, a law that attempted to censor or put prior-approval/prior restraint upon the speakers of that speech would likely be found unconstitutional.

In his book “Blockchain and the Law: The Rule of Code,” Wright brought the first denial of the First Amendment protections in the light for a software for the alleged accusation that it did not serve a purpose other than resulting in illegal gambling. In their own words;

If governments choose to regulate blockchain developers, some code may be protected by the First Amendment, while other code may not. For instance, decentralized e-commerce marketplaces used for the exchange of everyday items, but also potentially unlawful products … could receive First Amendment protection … because they facilitate both lawful and unlawful acts. Conversely, decentralized prediction markets and exchanges that facilitate the trading of binary options would likely be deemed to violate existing laws like the Commodities Exchange Act.


Further legal proceedings

Putting aside the law suit, the online postings resulted in the angry outbursts by violent groups worldwide. According to the head of legal research for blockchain, Andrew Glidden, the hoopla over 3D-printed guns resembles the “moral panics we face about ‘evil internet money.'”

The 3D gun designed by Defense Distributed, famous as the Liberator, does not cost much to replicate or produce with the added feature of being untraceable back to its original source in case its maker does not add CYA instructions to produce it with steel. This makes it, according to mass, useless and holding little power for future disruptive activities. But the firm’s CNC-milled, metal firearms might be purely functional, but detectable, and will cost a few extra bucks. This, in the future, may promote rumors of the bitcoin community facilitating terrorist activities.

“In either case, there’s a lawful activity, with a hypothetical (but not particularly warranted) possibility for abuse that drives the public to panic,” Glidden said.

The firm is positive about detaching itself from the online postings, but will take no responsibility for future inspired adaptations by any other blockchain. This means that the collateral damage would be taken on by the society in any case, which sends out a clear message to everyone to keep their eyes open at any time.

Anoosha Mansoor

Cryptocurrency and fintech enthusiast. Contributes regularly to BlockPublisher with analysis of industry news. Email:

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