The guns from the 3D printer are back, and now they can no longer be stopped
A decentralized network of arms-printing supporters is mobilizing online. They anonymously share blueprints, tips, and create their own community. And there is no easy way to stop them.
In the USA, a network of supporters of printing weapons on a 3D printer is growing again - but now everything is different. Unlike previous attempts to popularize weapons that can be printed on a 3D printer, this operation is completely decentralized. She has no headquarters, trademarks and leader. And the people behind it believe that this state of affairs guarantees the inability of governments to stop them.
“If they want to come after me, they will first need to find me,” says the Ivan Troll, a member of the group. “I am one of many like-minded people involved in this work.”
Troll Ivan is known only for his network pseudonym, and is a de facto representative of an underground organization of gunsmiths working on 3D printers. Ivan says that he knows at least 100 people who are actively developing technology for 3D printing of weapons, and claims that thousands of people participate in the network. And this loosely connected network spans the whole world.
They communicate on different digital platforms - Signal, Twitter, IRC and Discord. They criticize each other's work, exchange weapons CAD-files, give advice, talk about the theory and jointly develop new drawings. Printed weapons enthusiasts - who hold similar ideas and political views on arms control - mostly get to know subreddits and forums dedicated to this topic.
Ivan himself is only a small part of this network. He says that he comes from Illinois, and ages as a “college student”, but otherwise he hides details about himself so as not to stick his head out. At the same time, he launched several stunning commercials demonstrating the new spare parts for the pistols that he had printed in the garage, including the frame of the Glock 17 pistol.
In the last video [videos from YouTube are deleted, but the videos can be found on other hosting sites / approx. perev.] shows the Glock 17 polymer frame at various stages of production in the workshop. The shots are voiced by quick synthwave-style music, and passed through a VHS filter for the ultimate aesthetics. Towards the end of the video, Ivan takes several shots from the finished pistol, and the signatures that appear at the same time say: “Everyone can do this,” “Live free or die,” “Let's try to stop it, dirty etatists .” He also uploaded the full CAD model of the AR-15 assault rifle to a file hosting service. It is clear that Ivan is trying to provoke his detractors to the maximum.
In February this year, Ivan and his group decided to call themselves “Distributed deterrence” [ Deterrence Dispensed, where deterrence - “deterrence from hostile or criminal acts by means of intimidation” / approx. perev.], which is an allusion to the name of the company Defense Distributed [distributed protection], which was previously led by Texas crypto-anarchist Cody Wilson.
In September 2018, Wilson, who was 30, was arrested and charged with sexual harassment of a minor. He allegedly paid $ 500 for sex with a 16-year-old girl in his hometown of Austin, Texas. Naturally, this arrest completely removed Wilson from the world of printing weapons on a 3D printer. Many of the people who admired him were either disgusted or realized that his time had passed. He resigned from Defense Distributed, which was previously considered the main driver of 3D-printing weapons, since its founding in 2012. Wilson was released on bail of $ 150,000, but he has not contacted since then.
Defense Distributed has many other legal issues. Prosecutors in more than 20 US states are currently suing the company, which filed counterclaims, trying to reverse the company's victory in court, which allowed the company to upload 3D weapons drawings online and share them. All these processes are long and tedious (the State of New York has just passed a law banning weapons printed on a 3D printer).
But for Ivan’s group, Deterrence Dispensed, all of this doesn’t matter. They upload their files one by one to services such as Spee.ch, a site for hosting media files that runs on the LBRY blockchain, and do not expect permission from anyone. They themselves make blueprints for printing weapons, correct old ones, and distribute all drawings from Defense Distributed for free.
“If even no government forbade me to do this, I think that I would do it anyway,” says Ivan. “Some people enjoy video games, but I like to spend time drawing things in CAD.”
But Ivan is not just “drawing things” in CAD. He gives away free files to everyone, helping anyone who has a more or less decent 3D printer working by fusing (FDM, Fused Deposition Modeling) and certain tools to create a working gun. After downloading a CAD file, it is opened in a slicing program that translates CAD files into instructions that are understandable to a 3D printer. Once the parts are ready, they can be assembled, having received a fully working weapon.
The drawings that Deterrence Dispensed shares with the world are so good, according to Ivan, that they are not just “workers,” they are of excellent quality. “Our AR15 is the best available to the public, no doubt,” says Ivan.
Despite the active antagonism with the authorities, while Ivan had no problems with them. Closing his Twitter account ever achieved Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, but so far from the point of view of law enforcement and the government, all was quiet.
Ivan considers himself and other radical groups involved in weapons printing, for example, FOSSCAD, hobbyists who wanted to create something “wrong”. He believes that the problems of 3D-printing weapons are too bloated. He points out that although printed parts for weapons can be used to kill people, self-made weapons have always existed, and are probably more deadly. From his point of view, all this hysteria and negative reaction were directed to the wrong address.
“Believe me, as a person who printed weapons. Making a semi-automatic shotgun is 100 times easier, faster, and cheaper than printing a regular gun. I can go to Home Depot and buy a shotgun for $ 8. "
In 2019, 156 people have already died in mass shootings in the United States, and in principle, the number of deaths associated with weapons has a 20-year maximum . In March, a terrorist armed with two semi-automatic rifles and two shotguns killed 51 Muslims in Christchurch (New Zealand). Does the United States (and the rest of the world) need more weapons in such circumstances - self-made, printed or other? Ivan thinks yes.
“Police killed more people last year than died in all the mass shootings over the past 10 years,” he says. - We in America live in a society where there is always a risk that a policeman will shoot your ass for nothing. And for this you do not even need to pose a threat to him. "A policeman can kill you, simply because he wants to, and he will get away with it."
He cited many examples when police shot at unarmed black Americans, noting Stiphon Clark particularly. Clark, 22 years old, was shot dead by police in his own garden when he only had a cell phone in his hand. “I think it is extremely important that everyone has the opportunity to have a gun,” Ivan continued. “Everyone should have the same legal capabilities as cops who use them to control you.”
However, the facts are undeniable. Slightly more than half the deaths from firearms occur in six countries , including in USA. And Harvard University analysis shows that the more weapons there are, the more killings there.
Opponents of weapons, of course, are not satisfied with the concept of a downloadable pistol. Avery Gardiner, one of the presidents of Brady Campaign, said the 3D-printed weapon "poses a serious threat to our security." Following a court ruling in August, Gardiner said: "There is already a wave of dangerous individuals trying to illegally post drawings on the Internet."
Members of this decentralized society who print weapons on a 3D printer are often motivated by a mixture of libertarianviews and the pleasure of developing and creating material objects as part of a hobby. They upload drawings to the Internet, share them, improve schemes and facilitate the printing process, while remaining out of sight. Ivan declares that he is doing this out of love for freedom and radical following the first two amendments to the US Constitution: freedom of speech and freedom to bear arms.
However, his radicalism goes so far as to discuss the right to have his own Tomahawk-class missiles , saying that they would be safer in his hands than in the hands of the US Army and their allies - given the history of the accidental destruction of civilians by military personnel, including a wedding in Afghanistan and a school bus in Yemen.
Describing an ever-increasing list of civilians who died at the hands of the US military in foreign wars, Ivan often becomes more like a radical left than a right fan of weapons, which many consider him to be. However, he refuses any particular ideology, saying: "I myself am special and unique."
So far, Troll Ivan, Deterrence Dispensed and thousands of 3D weapons printing enthusiasts, united by a worldwide network, have released the genie from the bottle. Unable to stop anonymous file sharing for 3D weapon printing. Whether they hide behind freedom in the process, or not, one thing is clear: it is too late to stop them.