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Living Freedom by Claire Wolfe. Musings about personal freedom and finding it within ourselves.

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.

Claire Wolfe

On unstoppable signals and other sunny-day thoughts

Monday, May 6th, 2013


I think this makes me the 3,456th gunblogger to “announce” Defense Distributed’s proudest new achievement, The Liberator. Although their video pairs it with images of the Liberator bomber, we know which WWII equipment they really named it after.

I believe I’m also the 1,274th blogger to immediately think (if not immediately say), “You can’t stop the signal!”

And you can’t, you know. Nobody can.

I think Cody Wilson is a brave genius — who’s cruising for a terrible fed-bruising and who’ll deserve our ardent support (and contributions to his legal defense fund) when it comes.

I think the hysteria about criminals suddenly being able to make their own weapons (e.g. here and here) is … well, hysterical.

Because aside from the marvelous modern technology of 3D printing, “criminals” (and schoolkids and anybody else) have had the ability to make their own single-shot .22 firearms for decades. The darned thing was called the zip gun, and the last time the media got its undies in a bunch about it was ca. 1955.

But how many zip guns have you seen or heard of in your entire life? They seem to have only one modern application (if the New York Times has got it right; always an iffy proposition): being tossed together in a hurry to be turned in for profit at anti-gunner buyback programs. Even that was apparently a brief, limited, though seemingly lucrative, revival.

And isn’t that a marvelous bit of enterprise?

Still, if criminals haven’t been making their own firearms all this time when all they needed was a metal tube, a rubber band, a block of wood, and a nail (BTW, exactly the same firing pin The Liberator uses), Schumer & Co. can unclench their sphincters about the possibility of the meth-head down the street setting up his $8,000 (or even $1,200) 3D printer and whipping out weapons of mass destruction.


But the signal is being sent. It can’t be stopped. And The Liberator (bless you, Cody & friends) is merely the beginning. No, the beginning of the beginning.

Is it true that 3D printers can print new 3D printers? Well, why not? And the printing goes on.

It’s entertaining to watch politicians squirm and media blondies tsk tsk. It’s instructive to speculate about what pols will attempt to ban, license, or otherwise control next. Three-D printers? Plastics or metals that can be used for printing? Homemade guns? Plastic guns? Guns whose serial numbers aren’t in a government database, complete with owner’s name? (Oh yes, they’d love that one.)

Warning: chaos ahead as the try to jam the signal Defense Distributed is beaming.

The one sure bet: They’ll focus on controlling guns, printer technology, gun parts, tech buyers, gun making, gun, gun, gun, guns — when what they really fear (and need to fear) is information loose in the world.

I don’t know how to build a gun. Don’t care. I have no interest in building my own. But I can download all manner of files, including ones that have already been subject to suppression attempts. And so can you. And so can we all. And it only takes one person saving those files and making them available to others (and of course it’s already gone dramatically beyond that) for the signal to beam across the universe.

I keep remembering that the Soviet Union was brought down, in part, by fax machines — inferior technology that barely lasted a few years in the U.S. before being obsoleted by better tech. But given the USSR’s own long-term problems, all it took was one creaky bit of information technology in the hands of dissidents and malcontents to give the rickety old structure a toppling push.

Obama surely didn’t mean it the way some of us might like to take it when he burbled and blathered recently about government not being some far-off tyranny, but ultimately being us. In the cliched and moronic way he meant it — well, happy horsesh*t, Mr. O. But in the way things might really unfold one day, yes — we are the best and ultimately the only valid governors of ourselves.

Interesting times, interesting times. And today, on this lovely spring afternoon, the sun of freedom is shining a little brighter than before.

20 Responses to “On unstoppable signals and other sunny-day thoughts”

  1. Kyle MacLachlan Says:

    Don’t forget the good old potato gun either, Claire.
    With a little bit of experimenting that piece of PVC pipe can launch a variety of projectiles with gusto. Once you get it “sighted in” it gets even better!

    On the subject of Media being all uptight about guns: A store employee in a nearby town got arrested for threatening to shoot co-workers she didn’t like and guess what the Sheriffs found in the trunk of her car …

    (pause for a gasp from the news anchor)


    My first thought was: “Well, they usually don’t use a hole punch.”

    So more power to Defense Dist., count me in for their legal defense fund!

  2. Matt, another Says:

    Closing Pandora’s box didn’t do any good once the Furies escaped.

    The government ignores the fact that firearms have been manufactured in garages, tunnels and caves by simple ‘smiths all over the world. The need for defensive weapons can’t be denied, the 3D printing just makes it easier.

  3. ENthePeasant Says:

    That’s a great speech… but what the hell was he talking about??? I was totally confused. In the end I believe that “self-government” means government by him, the prez, O his own self. And they can’t stop the signal. My son was on an Airplane recently where he sat next to a Brit who was running on and on about gun control. My son informed him that, “It comes down to me willing to fight you to the death over my guns. Are you willing to fight harder to get them?” He admitted he was not.

  4. DaShui Says:

    First printable Claymore?

  5. Jim B. Says:

    Unfortunately, while the ability to print guns is improving which is great, however the ability to print cartridges for guns is the next important thing to develop. The ammo has always been the weak link of any weapon. Which is why we have the ammo supply crisis we have now. The government is upping their usual orders for ammo and the people are running scared because of that, and Obama’s threats on the guns.

    Neither sides of the gun “debate” trusts the other.

    Once we can become truly self sufficent on being able to print every component a gun requires, regardless of model, and print every component of cartridges with no worries about the primers and powders, only then will the signal truly can’t be stopped.

    Until then, we’re still vunerable.

  6. IndividualAudienceMember Says:

    Cool blog entry, C.W.

    It really gave me a simply warm feeling, just like the Sun.

    ENthePeasant’s story about his son was much the same. I’m glad to be reminded there really are young people like that.

    As I read the blog entry I kept thinking of a commenter on the original entry: a person who came across as a young inexperienced smug and stuck-up condescending know-nothing woman talking about zip guns as if she knew something and everyone should pay heed to her.

    The old people I knew who are since long gone would have likely started out a reply to her with: “Now! See here…”

    C.W.’s blog entry was a good approximation of what would have followed that.

    It has been said: in groups people go insane, and then One by one people regain their sanity.

    I wonder if in the audience at Ohio State University there was a mass return to sanity as they realized there was an attempt to play them for suckers and fools?

  7. IndividualAudienceMember Says:

    Really, Jim B. ?

    I kind of saw all the guys with the ability to make ammo to be the same as the guys who make guns from printers.

    I mean if “they” restrict the ability to get gunpowder, “they” could also restrict the ability to get plastic resin. Seems to me both producers are about the same now.

  8. Jim B. Says:

    Gunpowder I’m not worried about so much, while primers on the other hand is a bit more difficult. I know that there will be people that’ll figure it out. But, until then, I maintain that we’re still vulnerable.

  9. B Woodman Says:

    And it just gets better and better. I caught the tail-end of a TV news story about a company that will be selling a small 3D printer for only a few hundred dollars (cheap). More suitable to make toys (and other “small parts”), but the writing is on the wall. 3D printers are here to stay and will be getting better and cheaper, hence the availability of the scary plastic guns will be going up exponentially. Yes, truely, Pandora’s box has been opened, and it does no good to shut it now.
    Someone could make a small fortune by making & selling the few metal parts necessary (barrel, chamber, firing pin) for Teh Big Bad Scary Plastic Guns.

  10. G.W.F. Says:

    The funny thing to me about all this “new technology” that gets the lawmakers’ panties in a bunch, is what you have in the end is still such a long way from being anything really scary in my mind. If my intent were to get around registration/background checks/BATF, I think it would be much “scarier” just to use “old technology” and go the black powder route. In most cases, per the BATFs written regulations, black power rifles and pistols are “not considered firearms”. It is even legal (with a few exceptions where newer models can be converted to use standard cartridges) for felons to own them. The reliable old six-shooter in .44 would be a much more effective weapon, cost way less and you don’t need a computer science degree to set it up. You can make your own blackpowder with three simple ingredients, and for $15 buy a mold where you can make bullets out of wheel weights/lead sinkers/etc. I’d bet on the reliability and accuracy of a $180 1851 Pietta Navy .44 from Cableas as a good Liberator weapon before going the plastic single-shot route.

    I just find it ironic that the old technology does not seem to bother anyone, its always been there.

    Personally, I love new technology and I keep looking to buy a RepRap printer and have one to play with. The last time I looked at them seriously, I could set one up for around $800, but you would also be spending about $50/roll for the plastic. I just find if funny how much that investment would buy in some reliable old technology blackpowder guns.

  11. Bill Harzia Says:

    RE: Primers being the weak link – maybe we should go to electric primers, like they use in the GAU-30 cannon in the A-10.

  12. Kevin Wilmeth Says:

    What’s most encouraging to me is the attitude, not the technology. As a bonus, the technology can only improve–and is doing so already, after a very short time, and a marvelously “next-door” investment. But the raison d’etre of DefDist is “you can’t stop the signal”, not so much what the signal contains. (Really, it’s no more about AR magazines for Cody Wilson than it is about AR magazines for Cuomo, Schumer, Feinstein et al ad nauseam. Which is reason to love DefDist all the more.)

    I fully agree with others’ thoughts here, about other practical approaches to “you can’t stop the signal”; the very fact that we’re here doing that validates the attitude.

    And so yeah: smokepoles are an excellent way to approach self-sustenance without relying on cartridge logistics. Some others would also remind us that the original intent of the original Liberator (or any zip-gun) is also a viable approach to dealing with cartridge logistics, should things devolve to that level.

    And then there’s air.

  13. Matt, another Says:

    I’m not sure plastic resins will be that easy to restrict in the long run. Plastic is all around us, all it would take is a talented/determined person to figure out hot to recycle water bottles and grocery bags at home and then add the requisite chemicals to make the polymers needed. Yes, I over simplify.

    The only way for a government to effectively ban firearms and ammunition is for that government to stop using such items themselves. Until that point, there will always be the possibility of theft or battlefield pick up of weapons, such as the original Liberator was intended for. During WWII the Philipinos were severely under armed as a people, they still fought the Japanese and often ambushed small patrols in the jungle, fighting close in so they could take the arms from the dead soldiers.

  14. Laird Says:

    Going back to Obama’s speech (linked in Claire’s essay), I found the sentence immediately preceding the portion quoted in the Infowars article to be very interesting: “This country cannot accomplish great things if we pursue nothing greater than our own individual ambitions.” More than anything else among all that blather, this seems to be the core of Obama’s philosophy. He thinks it is “the country” which achieves things (great or otherwise), rather than the individuals who comprise it. He doesn’t understand that it is the sum of all our “individual ambitions” which is the cause of whatever the country has accomplished. And, most telling, he clearly thinks that “the country” is somehow separate from, and greater than, its people, and that our “individual ambitions” are merely obstacles to its “success” (as he would define it). He is, of course, wrong on all counts, just as he is wrong about almost everything else.

  15. Adam Selene Says:

    You can’t stop the signal. That’s true but you can stop the signaler, at least Mr. Universe if not Mal. And if we know anything about our government it is that it will do whatever it can to smear, intimidate and in the end arrest anyone it deems a threat. That is of course why preppers, Christians, Tea Partiers, gun owners etc. are labeled terrorists while Chechen born terrorists, about whom the government received multiple warnings were ignored. The actual terrorists don’t really threaten the government’s power, the others might. I enjoyed the article and I’m sorry for the rant.

  16. Dan Says:

    Unless they changed the rules while I wasn’t looking, It is not against the law to manufacture an otherwise legal weapon for yourself. Even those AR-15 lowers pictured aren’t illegal if he made them for personal use…
    I doubt that any local jurisdictions have even considered the matter, but some may have limitations on possession of “guns and gun parts”

  17. Kent McManigal Says:

    Black powder firearms still have the “primer problem” (percussion caps) unless you use flintlocks, wheel locks, or matchlocks. Of course, there are ways to make percussion caps from aluminum cans with a little tool and some toy gun caps. And I suppose the chemistry that goes into the percussion cap filling isn’t really that advanced anyway.
    I’d love to have a Liberator, but I’m not planning to buy a 3D printer anytime soon.

  18. gooch Says:

    G.W.F. said:
    “The reliable old six-shooter in .44 would be a much more effective weapon, cost way less and you don’t need a computer science degree to set it up. You can make your own blackpowder with three simple ingredients, and for $15 buy a mold where you can make bullets out of wheel weights/lead sinkers/etc. I’d bet on the reliability and accuracy of a $180 1851 Pietta Navy .44 from Cableas as a good Liberator weapon before going the plastic single-shot route. ”

    Add in the removable carbine stock and four extra cylinders and one is right back in the contest. IMHO

    Then again if the “caps” get too rare and expensive one could always revert to the Flintlock technology [IE:smokepoles] and while extremely limiting in rounds downrange it does give one a safer range from which to strike and disappear.

    Still … I love the effect the announcement, of 3D printed guns, is making in anti-gun circles.

  19. smmtheory Says:

    I can’t help but wonder if Whedon is regretting that line about now.

  20. IP Says:

    Absent the ability to deep-draw brass, cartridge cases aren’t all that difficult to make… just time consuming.

    There are two primary methods: Turning a “button” case head on a lathe (the part that incorporates the rim and primer pocket) and soldering this to tubing to create a cartridge case, or turning the entire case on a lathe and reaming the case wall to the proper dimensions.

    The first technique is suitable only for black powder pressures. Beyond that, it’s very possible to blow a case head at the solder joint. The second is usable at higher pressures, but is much more labor intensive.

    Primers, at least of the corrosive variety, are fairly simple. If working from scratch, make a Berdan case head and fashion a small die to make primer cups from brass sheet. Primer compositions aren’t difficult; “Strike Anywhere” match tips work well and there are YouTube videos up on how to reload primers. If they’re not available, chlorates can be obtained from thermal decomposition of pool bleach or by electrolysis of common table salt. These can be further refined and suitable primer compositions can be made with other common materials.

    I have done this. It isn’t terribly difficult, but it’s not very safe, so I’m being a bit vague here. If you’re truly interested, the chemistry involved is elementary and can be readily found on the web. Study it carefully or learn to love the nickname “Stubby.”

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