Ceci n’est pas un pistolet.
Not because it is art.
Not because the material is fragile and will explode when discharged.
Not because we are not gunmakers.
This Liberator is a work of high art, it is a thing of beauty with functioning mechanics, springs, latches, handles and interlocking pieces that are a wonder of engineering, made out of a single “produce on demand” material.
A zip gun is actually a gun. The ease of fabrication combined with the practical function makes it the winner in a gun fight. The crude zip gun is cheaper, more effective, more stealthy and more dangerous both as a weapon and a toy. For $20 and a trip to the hardware store, the enthusiast can make a gun in a matter of an hour or so that can fire a bullet, and be reloaded.
As a printed 3D object the Liberator is a challenge to our community, a rallying point for ignorance and a frightening piece of equipment. It is so full of fearful potential that it may have a negative impact on laws regarding 3D printing. This is the greatest tragedy. The disruptive and transformative potential of 3D printing is not to be taken lightly. We have seen these technological revolutions happen with publishing, video, telephony and the network. The technology must remain unencumbered to reach its fullest potential, to truly experience innovation in the space and to be able to grow naturally. Other advances including shifts in fundamental intellectual property mean this will be profound.
As a file it challenges to both the first an second amendments of the constitution. What is the right to keep arms if the arms are plans? What is the right to expression and free speech if the file/plans cannot be published or sent across international lines?
As speech the data needs to be protected. There does not exist currently a lot of DRM on files and data related to printing. This stands to liberate our things, to free manufacturing from carbon intensive transportation. There will always be room for craft, even if a thing can be duplicated perfectly it is desirable to have one that is full of the imperfections left by the craftsman.
As an object, the Liberator has been donated to Works/SJ for their charity auction.
Ceci n’est pas un pistolet, ceci est le futur.