May 09, 2013

A 3D-Printed Gun Meets the Streisand Effect

Regular readers here and in other venues will know by now that I am a very strong supporter of gun control legislation (now more popularly called "gun safety" regulation for political correctness). Not only that, I consider the NRA and its minions inside and outside of government to be directly responsible for millions of innocent deaths at the bidding of their gun merchant supporters. And that's just for starters.

But even I can recognize bogosity when I see it.

By now you've probably heard about the downloadable plans for printing a plastic gun on a (currently fairly expensive, but cheaper they will continue to become) 3D printer.

After the simple gun was determined to essentially function as designed, the plans were posted to the Web a couple of days ago.

Today comes word that, reportedly, the U.S. State Department has asked the plans' distributor to remove them from the Net, while legal issues are being explored.

The parties involved have apparently complied.

But over 100K copies of those plans had already been downloaded.

You know where this is going.

The very act of attempting to bottle up this data has drawn far more attention to the plans themselves than would otherwise likely have been the case -- a textbook definition of the so-called "Streisand Effect" in action, a phenomenon we've discussed here many times in the past.

And of course, the plans themselves are still trivially available.

I found them -- intact and complete -- on a mirror site within 30 seconds, using an obvious three word search query, just a few minutes ago.

Outside of the just plain uselessness of trying to block such information after it has already been published -- how many times must this truism be repeated? -- there are a couple of other obvious ironies in play.

One is that just as attempts to censor the Net will almost always be ultimately futile (but still potentially very damaging to individuals or organizations caught up in those attempts), trying to control 3D printing is almost certainly going to be equally (if not even more) futile in the long run.

And the other irony? Who the hell needs to print a gun when the NRA and its ilk have made it trivial for pretty much anyone, including the mentally ill, people on the no-fly terrorism watch list, and basically anyone else not carting around pressure-cooker bombs (and maybe them too), to easily and legally purchase cheap, powerful, much more effective weapons with a nod and a wink at any gun show -- no background checks usually required!

So all around, from every angle, this whole story only serves to demonstrate the depth of society's confusion regarding the Internet, 3D printing, and guns.

To paraphrase the inestimable "Firesign Theatre" -- I'm afraid we may all be bozos on this bus.


Posted by Lauren at May 9, 2013 05:40 PM | Permalink
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