Viewpoint: Prosecute Defense Distributed purveyors of 3D ghost guns as accessories to murder, terror

Karen Rubin

File this under “This couldn’t possibly be true.” Except in Trump’s dystopia that America has become.

It’s as if someone said, in a country where 96 people die each day because of gun violence, there are 13,000 homicides each year, and so far this year, there have already been 201 mass shootings in 211 days, what this country needs is even easier way for domestic abusers, criminals, the mentally ill, terrorists and even kids to make their own guns at home that are untraceable and undetectable. It makes a mockery of any pretense at background checks, of whatever rules gun dealers are supposed to abide by.

You would think that even the gun manufacturers would recoil at the loss of business to the DIYers.

This moment, I am thinking about Tamir Rice, a 12-year old gunned down within seconds of a policeman seeing him wave a toy gun around.

No charges for the policeman because the toy didn’t have the orange tip it was supposed to have. But I digress for a moment as I contemplate the absurdity of plastic guns created at home with a 3D printer.

I’m also thinking about the travel ban which is supposed to stop terror attacks which have never happened from refugees from those countries, and how the TSA takes away nail clippers, water and toothpaste when you get on a plane but these plastic guns can evade the metal detector.

21 states so far have filed suit to prevent the for-profit company from selling the blueprints online, including New York State.

A judge has issued an injunction. But the plans have already been downloaded thousands and thousands of times for assault-style rifles like AR-15s and AR-10s, and“Liberator” and Ruger 10/22 handguns, and the proponents seem quite confident that their claim of “free speech” will prevail.

Interestingly, the State Department (under Obama), after contesting 3D printed ghost guns as equivalent to gun trafficking, without any public hearing or comment, suddenly (under Trump) reversed course and gave its blessing.

Surprised? Trump said he would consult with the NRA on the matter – like genuflecting before the Pope.

What else might also be considered “free speech?”

Burning a cross in Yosemite National Park, where firefighters are battling the worst blaze in state history? Is shooting someone dead an exercise in free speech? How about lying to federal officials or lying on a tax return, is that also free speech?

Isn’t every act of terrorism, by definition, a political act that under this theory could be “protected” as free speech? Absurd you say? No more absurd than insisting on a “right” – under the First and/or Second Amendments – to enable anyone to manufacture their own, untraceable assault weapons.

And yet Reality Winner, who worked for an NSA contractor, faces prison for blowing the whistle on Russian hacking into state voter rolls. Why is that not free speech that is in the public interest?

But the claim of Free Speech is specious and cynical at best and should not be tested in this case.

The reason Defense Distributed should be stopped is because every time its plans are downloaded, the individuals in this company are contributing to the commission of criminal activity, whether it be evading gun control laws (background checks, registration, licensing, the law that requires a gun to have some metal in order to be detectable to security, and New York laws that make possession of assault weapons a felony and prohibit the production of handguns in absence of having a license to own one).

Why would they not be prosecuted as co-conspirators in any commission of murder or injury, terrorism or burglary? Just as the driver of a getaway car is held criminally responsible, so too should these individuals who put the ghost gun in the criminal’s hands. And they should be civilly liable as well.

Cody Wilson, Defense Distributed’s director, mocked the notion that his ghost guns could be used in murder.

“We should expect and have a mature attitude that bad things can happen” he said. Say that to the mother of a slain child, the wife of a murdered police officer, or the relatives of a downed aircraft. That is reckless disregard for human life and liberty.

“It is wholly absurd, irresponsible and negligent for this federal government that has done nothing to address the gun crisis we are facing to actually make it worse,” Gov. Cuomo said on a press call announcing the cease and desist order. “The last thing we need now is people making guns in their own homes that circumvent all laws. How many must die before this president takes a responsible governmental action?”

Even if Cuomo and the other states are successful in stopping further downloads, and New York passes new legislation outlawing the private production of 3D ghost guns, thousands of these blueprints have already been downloaded, and there is nothing stopping the spread from those states that value guns over their children’s lives.

Defense Distributed principals should already be criminally and civilly liable as accessories in the commission of crimes.

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Karen Rubin

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