Loading...
If the churches cared for the poor then the government would save trillions over the years. But the churches ceded that...

Address the weapon, not its 3D printing plans

3D Guns Lawsuit

Cody Wilson, with Defense Distributed, holds a 3D-printed gun called the Liberator at his shop in Austin, Texas. Eleven states have joined eight others and the District of Columbia in a federal lawsuit that seeks to block a settlement the Trump administration reached with a company that wants to post online plans to make 3D firearms on a printer.

Loading…

Friday, August 10, 2018

The debate over 3D-printed guns blew up last week. Many people rightly see this issue as being about the Second Amendment right to bear arms, it’s also about the First Amendment and free speech.

The plans for a basic 3D-printed gun have been around for a couple of years, but the federal government prohibited online publication. Texas-based Defense Distributed challenged that policy in court. The case dragged on for a couple of years until the Trump administration recently settled. Online publication could start Aug. 1.

That got people’s attention. Americans would quickly fall victim to a rash of plastic gun violence, gun control advocates said. The weapons are untraceable, can pass through a metal detector, don’t have a serial number and can be made by felons. Several state attorneys general sued to have the prohibition reinstated and won a temporary injunction.

Everything those advocates say is true. Allowing people to make unregulated 3D-printed plastic guns will create serious challenges and consequences. However, the stifling of free speech can’t get lost in the mix.

Anyone who really wants a gun without a background check is far more likely to get it at a gun show or illegally on the streets. Real guns are more effective and cheaper than plastic ones that are good for a handful of shots at best and require a 3D printer that costs thousands of dollars. The government must tread carefully when it limits speech. Indeed, permissible limits are few and deal with imminent threats and clear harms. Child pornography, threatening someone and inciting violent insurrection enjoy no First Amendment protection.

The plans for a gun, in and of themselves, make no threat and cause no harm. The danger lies in what people might do with the plans. But free speech does not end because publication of an idea creates a potential hazard. If it did, too many important ideas would be silenced.

Federal courts have long upheld this notion. For example, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in an otherwise distasteful case, “The constitutional protection accorded to the freedom of speech and of the press is not based on the naïve belief that speech can do no harm but on the confidence that the benefits society reaps from the free flow and exchange of ideas outweigh the costs society endures by receiving reprehensible or dangerous ideas.”

An eclectic group of free-speech supporters sided with Defense Distributed in the case. First Amendment champions the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression and the Electronic Frontier Foundation joined libertarian-minded groups the Cato Institute and the Texas Public Policy Foundation filing amicus briefs.

Anyone can find plans for bombs and instructions on how to make drugs online. Such documents circulated even before the Internet. Government does not prohibit that speech, but it does prohibit bombs and drugs. Laws target the act, not the words.

If 3D-printed guns are untraceable “ghost guns,” require a state-issued serial number and a piece of metal, as California does, and a gunsmith license, as New York is considering. Congress and state legislatures are not powerless. They can mitigate, though probably not entirely prevent, the danger of 3D-printed guns without trampling the First Amendment.

The Miami Herald

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Editorials

October 22, 2018

After Hurricane Florence and Tropical Storm Michael left their trails of death and destruction across North Carolina, it’s time to clean up, repair, help those in need and move forward. But it also should be time to think about what environmental lessons these powerful storms leave behind.…

Tropical Weather

October 21, 2018

The first day of early voting would seem to telegraph the message that this year’s mid-term election has generated a lot of interest in the direction of our government at every level and in the individuals who voters are looking to for leadership.

Many important issues, from taxation to…

101818earlyvoting1

October 20, 2018

With the controversy of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s claims to be part Native American still swirling through the political atmosphere, it is important that we hear the voices of actual Native Americans.

They’re not too thrilled. Native American groups say they’re tired of being a…

Elizabeth Warren Heritage Trump-4

October 19, 2018

The most impressive statement to make about Sears as it seeks bankruptcy court protection is also the most damning: Sears was the Amazon of its time.

Impressive because Sears really was that influential long ago. Damning because the company’s decline wasn’t preordained. Sears could have…

Sears Chapter 11

October 18, 2018

Hurricane Florence turned the Cape Fear River into more of an open sewer than it already was. The heavy rains and flooding added human waste, livestock waste, industrial waste, petrochemical runoff and other hazardous substances to a river that was already profoundly compromised by the waste…

Tropical Weather-Toxic Sites-1

October 17, 2018

Saudi Arabia, so far, has tried bluster and bullying to silence the questions about journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago. On Sunday, a regime statement threatened to "respond with a larger action" to any sanction stemming from the case; Saudi-…

US Missing Writer

October 16, 2018

This has been a banner season for punishing white-collar crime. Guilty pleas by Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former longtime personal lawyer, and criminal convictions and additional guilty pleas in the case of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort have drawn enormous attention.…

Trump Political Fallout

October 15, 2018

Nearly three dozen administration officials have left or been forced out of key posts since President Donald Trump was sworn in last year. Few, if any, will be missed as much as Nikki Haley, who announced her resignation as United Nations ambassador on Tuesday.

For a former South Carolina…

Trump Haley-2

October 14, 2018

It’s the kind of anniversary no one wants to remember. A year ago this past Friday, four inmates at Pasquotank Correctional Institution beat to death four correctional employees in a failed escape attempt.

The brutal murders on Oct. 12, 2017, coming on the heels of the vicious murder of a…

October 13, 2018

It’s sorely tempting to criticize Harnett Central High School Principal Cindy Gordon after she reportedly kicked a student out of a football game for wearing a Donald Trump shirt. But examining this blunder in isolation misses the bigger picture.

The Oct. 5 incident didn’t happen in a…

100 stories in Editorials. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 10
        Next Page»   Last Page»