Michael Schaus

Despite the fact that I consider the prevailing majority of Facebook posts to be the single largest culprit of wasted broadband, I do hold a certain amount of awe for the internet. Shortly after Al Gore invented the technology, the instantaneous exchange of information became a global phenomenon. (Although, those early dial ups can hardly be considered “instantaneous.”) The internet might be, in most cases, the last beacon of relative freedom. Ideas can be spread, information disseminated, and cute kitten pictures shared… All with a simple click of a wireless mouse. While there is an amazing amount of debauchery and misinformation on the world-wide-interwebs, it still stands as a relatively unrestricted, lightly regulated and highly accessible wealth of opportunity.

Apparently, a 20-something year old in Texas felt the same I way I did a few years ago; but, unlike myself, he actually had the brains to contribute to the world of technological wonder. Feeling that the free exchange of ideas might be used as a contagion of freedom for other aspects of civilized society, he set about to create a firearm that one could “print” using any internet connection and a 3D printer. Setting up a non-profit (so that his information could be legally shared world-wide) Cody Wilson – a law student at Austin University – created a digital file that is capable of “printing” a fully operational plastic firearm.

Needless to say, governments around the world immediately entered panic mode. Ignoring the fact that a PVC pipe, some rubber cement and a handful of other items typically found at any local hardware store could create a gun of equal quality, authorities set about laws and restrictions to ban the files. Politicians sprang to action over concerns that terrorists would print the guns to take on planes (I wonder what kind of ammo you could sneak past the TSA metal detectors), or street thugs printing out their own history-free weapon (with their $20,000 3D printer). Even the US State Department got involved, by ordering that the information be taken off the internet. But, alas, too many files had already been downloaded. The information is now out there. . . Floating somewhere in the vast web of Facebook posts, YouTube videos, and Drudge Report links.

Michael Schaus

Michael Schaus is communications director at the Nevada Policy Research Institute and is responsible for managing the organization’s messaging with the public, the media and NPRI’s membership.

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