Gun Control: It Backfires

If I were an extremely cynical gun manufacturer, I would save some extra profits to give to Democratic candidates for president. Such presidents come to the White House under a cloud. No matter how many photo ops they hold with guns, many people suspect that they want to ban them.

It’s not a crazy assumption, either. In government’s ideal world, the politicians and their bureaucratic armies would have all the guns and the people would have none.

We know this from experience too. Look what happens in a natural disaster when FEMA takes over under martial law. They confiscate weapons. Heck, it’s true when the U.S. invades a foreign country. The people are disarmed, all in the name of keeping order. They did this in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So it’s not paranoia to suspect that government wants to disarm the population. That’s as true at home as it is abroad. It is all a matter of whether powerful rulers can get away with it.

Fortunately, in the U.S., it’s not so easy to just take people’s guns away. We have this thing called the Second Amendment. It turns out that sizeable parts of the population believe that it should be read and interpreted as if it were plain English. And for that reason, every president who wants to ban guns has to float the idea (a trial balloon) to push it through some kind of proto-legislative process.

Even since Clinton’s Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994, trial balloons have been a “buy” signal in the gun market. Really, the whole thing is hilarious. The president’s threat to ban even small classes of weapons — inevitably — causes a massive, populationwide scramble to buy as many guns as possible. Talk about unintended consequences! These small-time gun skeptics end up being the direct cause of a whole population of people arming themselves to the teeth!

See Ruger’s stock price:

Anyone who reads my stuff knows that I’m not really into guns myself. But I directly benefit personally when other people arm themselves. I might be the only home on the block without a gun rack and a pistol in every room, but would-be criminals don’t know which is mine. In states where people can walk around packing heat, criminals can’t know who is and who isn’t. They have to be that much more careful.

So, of course, the same thing has happened with Obama. After the Sandy Hook massacre, left-liberal pundits went nuts, demanding new weapons laws. Then Obama himself passed some executive orders that didn’t amount to much, but vaguely seemed to look down on private ownership of guns.

That was the trigger. Backfire! Lines formed outside every gun shop in the country. My local places started staying open 12 and 18 hours. Ammunition flew off the shelves. Wal-Mart started rationing bullets. Others just ran out. Secondary markets started showing up in sketchy areas of the Web.

The shortage caused police departments themselves to stock up. That alone furthered speculation that the police state was imminent, thereby fueling more fears of future shortages. The whole problem has been going on for weeks now, getting worse and worse for consumers and better and better for the industry itself.

It’s been the same with gun ranges. You used to be able to walk in and get a spot to shoot. Now you need a reservation. And the more people shoot, the more they need to buy because, well, you use up bullets when you fire them.

In short, it is a bull market in weapons and ammunition. Ironically, the whole mania has been set off by the government’s own anti-gun language. It’s getting to the point that the best path to business success in America is for some powerful politician to suggest that your good or service might need to be banned.

What a symbol of the ineffectiveness of government in our time! The whole nation figures that government is up to no good (all polls show that government is more deeply unpopular than ever before), so whenever government says one thing, the people run out and do the other. It’s a great turn of events in the history of public policy and, truly, one worth celebrating!

But you might be thinking: This can’t be all good. After all, guns could actually be banned in time. They keep ramping up the restrictions year by year. More reporting. More background checks. More papers to sign. More disclosures. In time, it could really happen. They will grab them all. Then we’ll be sunk.

Not so fast. The market’s love of technology is coming to the rescue.

On the front lines is a group called Defense Distributed. Their idea is to develop and publish plans for guns that can be printed off 3-D printers. These contraptions are in the process of revolutionizing manufacturing. They are already used industrywide (including even building large aircraft) and are coming online for home use. With a wiki-gun blueprint, anyone will be able to print a gun at home. And so much for all gun control.

This is edgy, but not illegal. It is not illegal to manufacture guns; the restrictions pertain only to selling and buying them. So what Defense Distributed is suggesting here falls within the law. Still, it’s controversial. They first started raising money with Indiegogo, but the fundraising site caught wind of the project and pulled it. Fine. The group turned to raising money from its own website, encouraging Bitcoin donations. Problem solved.

But then another problem cropped up. They were leasing a big, expensive printer to do the testing from the company Stratasys. Stratasys too freaked out and demanded its printer back. Of course, any private company has the right to do this, but the hand of government — threatening everyone — is in the background here.

Such are the roadblocks to the future. But here’s a principle to learn and count on: Regulators and bureaucrats can slow down the future, but they can’t stop it. It is going to get here one way or another.

3-D printing promises to change the whole relationship between citizens and those who govern. Patents, regulations, product bans, prohibitions, taxes, and everything else collapse in the face of such things that smack of Star Trek replicators. When the whole world — even the physical world — is digitized, it is out of anyone’s control.

With technology, freedom is our destiny. Those who rely on command and control will find themselves without anything to command or anyone to control. It’s a beautiful thing.

If you are curious about Defense Distributed, take a few minutes and watch their video. This is serious. No one is going to stop it.

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