Trigger Warning: Why the 3D Printed Gun Debate Matters to Crypto

Trigger Warning: Why the 3D Printed Gun Debate Matters to Crypto

Gun Rights

Marc Hochstein is the managing editor of CoinDesk. The views expressed here are his own, so please don’t blame his colleagues. The following article originally appeared in CoinDesk Weekly , a custom-curated newsletter delivered every Sunday exclusively to our subscribers. While it may seem only tangentially related to cryptocurrency, the fight in the U.S. over publication of software for 3D printed firearms bears close watching by the whole blockchain community. The word "publication" should give you a hint why, as the case highlights freedom-of-speech issues that may resurface in future attempts by governments to regulate crypto and distributed networks. More broadly, the groundswell of media hysteria and political grandstanding around this issue is a reminder of the type of resistance any game-changing technology is bound to meet. Stepping back, last week a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against Defense Distributed, a company founded by the provocateur and crypto-anarchist Cody Wilson. The order barred the Austin, Texas-based firm from posting computer-aided design (CAD) files online for weapons that can be manufactured at home with a 3D printer or a computer numerical control (CNC) milling machine. Wilson had recently celebrated victory in a long-running fight with the federal government, which settled with his company and agreed to let it distribute the technical information, throwing in the towel on claims that doing so would violate munitions export rules. This capitulation prompted gasps of outrage from the likes of Senator Chuck Schumer of New York. Shortly thereafter, attorneys general from […]

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