Prohibitions Don’t Work, And New Technology Makes That More Obvious

363cpartially 3d printed gun 600x400 Prohibitions Dont Work, And New Technology Makes That More Obvious

mentioned before, the Ottoman Empire once punished tobacco use
by death. That worked out so well, the law was rescinded a
generation later amidst a cloud of fragrant smoke. Americans being
slower learners, the war on drugs is a decades-old cliche in the
United States, yet 42 percent of us have smoked grass and 16
percent of us have tried cocaine — the
highest percentages recorded internationally by the World
Health Organization. Likewise, gun controls have,
as I’ve documented, met massive resistance for simple
registration and laughable levels of compliance for confiscation
schemes. Prohibitions have a wonderfully long track record of
abject failure when it comes to eliminating, or even reducing the
availability of, the things and behaviors at which they are
targeted. And that’s before we even get to the individually
empowering world of new technology.The popular prohibition movement of the moment has firearms in
its … err … sights. Led by (really?) Vice President Joe Biden,
a White House task force is apparently
considering new gun laws that would restrict those
scary-looking rifles known as “assault weapons,” ban high-capacity
magazines, track sales (maybe through registration?) and require
whatever else the politicians in the group think will win them
votes.Meanwhile, a merry band of gun-rights activists
known as Defense
Distributed have been using 3D printing technology to develop
the means of producing guns and related paraphernalia at home.
Brian Doherty has already
written about this development at length, and I’ve
covered it myself. But as it happens, matters have moved
forward, and Defense Distributed is now producing
high-capacity magazines with 3D printers. The group’s CEO, Cody
told Metro World News, “I have five people now making
AK-47 magazines – they’re incredibly easy to reproduce.”That’s in addition to the group’s recent successes with
producing actual gun receivers that work — even if the very first
one broke after only six shots. Such success with a nw technology
is a clear sign of more to come as the technology, and expertise in
using it, progresses. As Metro World News continued:
So how could the weapons be controlled? A spokesman for 3D print
company Automaker said it is powerless; “we do not promote guns,
but we cannot control the use of the product.” Neither can
government intervene effectively, says Michael Weinberg, attorney
specializing in emerging technologies for the U.S. Public Knowledge
think tank. “When you apply anger over gun control to a general
purpose technology there’s a lot of collateral damage”, he said.
“It’s like if you regulate steel – a lot of productive areas would
be lost. We don’t know enough about 3D printing to legislate the
Basically, the cat is out of the bag. 3D printing means that
prohibitions on mechanical devices — never successful in the past —
are now more easily bypassed than ever.Drugs, too, if a related technology known as chemical printing
is any indicator. That technology is earlier in its development,
but it holds promise for solving the orphan drug problem, and for
making end-run around drug prohibition. From the
Huffington Post:
Recently, Professor Lee Cronin from the University of Glasgow
has taken the idea of 3D printing a step further. He’s using a
$2,000 3D printer to print lab equipment–blocks containing
chambers that connect to mixing chambers–and then injecting the
desired ingredients into the chambers to produce organic and/or
inorganic reactions that can yield chemicals, and in some cases new
Just as early 3D printers were used for rapid prototyping, his
new chemical printer can initially be used to rapidly discover new
compounds.  And if you look at the development of 3D printers,
it is not hard to see that in the near future you could print
highly specialized chemicals and even pharmaceuticals. The team is
currently working on printing ibuprofen, the main ingredient in
popular painkillers. This, of course, raises a regulatory red flag,
and it will be difficult to regulate what individuals in all parts
of the world will do with access to the Internet and a 3D chemical
Of course, anybody who has ever
grown their own dope or made black powder for the hell of it (and
then blown up a windowsill — sorry, Mom!) knows that you don’t need
high-tech to render prohibitions irrelevant. The Ottoman Empire’s
ban on tobacco failed because people ignored it, technology aside.
Bans fail because enough people to whom the prohibitions apply
refuse to obey them. Advancing technology just makes it easier to
ignore laws with minimal effort and risk.My own belief is that laws are relevant only for defining the
penalties for engaging in acts that virtually everybody agrees are
wrong. When prohibitionists sputter, “so … so … should we just
legalize rape because some people still do it?” they’re missing the
point. Rape is rightfully and effectively illegal because almost
everybody in our society agrees it’s wrong and should be punished.
It also has a victim who generally takes great exception to being
abused and is inclined to seek punishment for the criminals. Take a
victimless activity and add a constituency that thinks it’s a
good thing and that the law is what’s wrong, and you have
the perfect makings for legal impotence.It’s tempting to say that the age of prohibition is over, but in
terms of practical enforcement, it really never happened at all.
Politicians will sputter this year about guns and next year about
something else that sticks in their craw. But those of us who don’t
want to be restricted won’t be. And technology is making our quest
for continued freedom ever easier.

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Prohibitions Don’t Work, And New Technology Makes That More Obvious

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