Over the past few days, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) has been making the rounds pimping his plan to introduce federal legislation that would ban 3D-printed firearms.
At a weekend press conference, Schumer spoke about his unease with this new technology.
“We’re facing a situation where anyone—a felon, a terrorist—can open a gun factory in their garage and the weapons they make will be undetectable,” Schumer said. “It’s stomach-churning.”
In a follow-up interview on Monday with CNBC, Schumer delved into further detail on why he fears 3D-printed guns, referencing In the Line of Fire, a Hollywood movie starring Clint Eastwood and John Malkovich.
“Everyone saw that John Malkovich movie, In the Line of Fire. It was a frightening movie,” explained Schumer.
“He [Malkovich’s character, Mitch Leary] spent months and months trying to craft a gun made of wood and plastic… He spent months doing this so he could assassinate the president,” Schumer continued. “And the movie was frightening and he was one of the best bad guys I’ve ever seen in a movie. Now it’s real. That’s much more frightening.”
Well, there’re two points to make here. The first one is rather obvious and was spectacularly articulated by Paul Barrett, senior writer at Bloomberg Businessweek, in his article, “Let’s All Calm Down About 3D Plastic Guns.”
Barrett’s central point: fear concerning 3D-printed firearms is way overblown. Why? Because it’s much easier to obtain the real thing. Barrett wrote:
If you’ve got the skills, you can already make a gun in your basement, and there are less complicated ways to do it than using a $10,000 3D printer and computer set-up. Why would bad guys bother making comic book firearms when they can go online and order anything from a Glock 9 mm pistol to a Bushmaster military-style semiautomatic rifle with 30-round ammunition magazines?
Perhaps the evildoer wouldn’t want to leave a credit-card trail. Then he pays cash at a Main Street gun shop, a weekend gun show, or to the criminal down the block who sells black market firepower from the trunk of his car. Or the crook steals or borrows his gun.
As for worries about the gun being plastic, Barrett reminded us that, “TSA scanners at airports detect shapes, not metal.”
Of course, there is a more basic argument here that the gun community is keenly familiar with, i.e. bad people are going to find ways to do bad things regardless of what laws are passed. Whether it’s fertilizer and diesel fuel or pressure cookers in backpacks or commonly owned handguns, evil finds a way.
The other point to make is: WTF?
Sure, who doesn’t like the life-imitating-art analogy, but Schumer’s use of it here is bizarre and strangely humorous. I mean, what else can one say but the senator is really “frightened” of John Malkovich, which is not a completely unnatural reaction (I’m slightly afraid of him myself), but if I were the senior United States senator from New York, I wouldn’t go out and use fictional characters as a basis for new federal gun laws.
Though, since we’ve already ventured down that road, maybe we should consider the possibilities. Like, by an extension of that logic, I’m pretty sure we need to ban all forms of artificial intelligence. Think about it. Singularity is right around the corner and I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen Terminator 2 and The Matrix. Those were frightening movies — very frightening, way more frightening than a homicidal John Malkovich and his plastic gun.
If we don’t ban the use of computers and machines they’ll eventually take over and enslave us. They’ll store our bodies in pod-like cells, harvesting the heat and electrical activity they produce to power their computer-based worlds and digital dreamscapes.
This is a big problem. We need to start drafting laws to prevent this from happening. I’ll send The Matrix and Terminator 2 to Sen. Schumer tomorrow. Hopefully, he sees them as a call to action.