CryptoAnarchy: 3D Gun Community Moves to the Distributed Underground
grarpamp at gmail.com
Tue May 21 01:13:09 PDT 2019
3D-printed guns are back, and this time they are unstoppable
A decentralised network of gun-printing advocates is mobilising
online, they're anonymously sharing blueprints, advice and building a
community. There's no easy way they can be halted
A new network of 3D-printed gun advocates is growing in America – and
this time things are different. Unlike previous attempts to popularise
3D-printed guns, this operation is entirely decentralised. There’s no
headquarters, no trademarks, and no real leader. The people behind it
reckon that this means they can’t be stopped by governments.
“If they [the government] were to come after me, they’d first have to
find my identity,” says Ivan the Troll, a member of the group. “I’m
one of many, many like-minded individuals who’re doing this sort of
Known only by his online moniker, Ivan the Troll is the de facto
spokesman of an underground wave of 3D-printing gunsmiths. Ivan says
he knows of at least 100 people who are actively developing 3D-printed
gun technology, and he claims there are thousands taking part in the
network. This loose-knit community spans across the whole world.
They communicate across several digital platforms, including Signal,
Twitter, IRC, and Discord. They critique each other's work, exchange
3D gun CAD files, offer advice, talk theory, and collaborate on future
blueprints. These 3D-printed gun enthusiasts – who share similar ideas
and political viewpoints on gun control – mostly found each other
online via gun control subreddits and forums.
Ivan is just one small part of this network. He says he is from
Illinois, and is of “college age”, but otherwise he remains mostly
anonymous, to lie low. At the same time though, he’s launched
bombastic PR videos demonstrating the new 3D-printed gun parts he’s
created in his garage, including a Glock 17 handgun frame.
One of his most recent videos shows the polymer Glock 17 frame in
various stages of production in his workshop. The footage is set to
fast-paced synthwave music and is run through a trendy VHS filter –
the aesthetics are important. Toward the end, Ivan fires several
rounds with the fully built handgun, as text flashes up saying “ANYONE
CAN MAKE IT”, “LIVE FREE OR DIE”, and “GO AHEAD TRY TO STOP THIS YOU
FILTHY STATISTS”. He’s also uploaded the complete CAD reference model
designs for a 3D-printed AR-15 assault rifle to his file-sharing space
online. It’s clear Ivan is trying to provoke his detractors as much as
In February of this year, Ivan and his group decided to name
themselves “Deterrence Dispensed”, which is a tongue-in-cheek nod to
the notorious Defence Distributed – a 3D-printing gun company formerly
run by Texan crypto-anarchist Cody Wilson.
They’re uploading these files individually on services such as
Spee.ch, a media-hosting site underpinned by the LBRY blockchain, and
they aren’t waiting for anyone to give them permission. They’ve made
their own 3D-printed gun designs, modified old ones, and are keeping
all the Defence Distributed ones available for free too.
“Even if there was no government telling me I couldn’t do this, I
think that I would still do it,” Ivan says. “Some people get a kick
out of video games, I like spending hours and hours drawing stuff on
Ivan isn’t just “drawing stuff on CAD” though. He’s providing free
files to help anyone with a half-decent FDM (Fused Deposition
Modeling) 3D printer and some hand tools to make a workable handgun.
Once the CAD file is downloaded, it’s opened in a “slicer” program
that translates the CAD files into instructions that the 3D printer
can understand. Once the 3D-printed gun parts are ready, they can be
assembled into a fully workable gun.
The CAD gun designs put out by Deterrence Dispensed are so well-made,
according to Ivan, that they’re not just “workable”, but superior.
“Our AR15 CAD model is the best in the public domain without a doubt,”
Despite being overtly antagonistic Ivan has had no real run-ins with
the authorities so far. His Twitter account was permanently suspended
after New Jersey state senator Bob Menendez lobbied for it to be taken
down, but as far as the government and law enforcement goes, things
have been mostly quiet.
Ivan sees himself, and other radical 3D-printing gun groups such as
FOSSCAD (another decentralised group of 3D-printing enthusiasts who
focus on firearms), simply as hobbyists who’ve chosen the “wrong”
thing to build. He sees 3D-printed guns as somewhat of a paper tiger.
He points out that while 3D-printed gun parts can be built to kill
people, zip guns (homemade firearms built from crude materials) have
been around for decades and are arguably more deadly. The hysteria and
backlash, to Ivan at least, is completely misplaced.
“Take it from me as someone who’s printed a gun. Making a slam-fire
shotgun is 100 times easier, 100 times quicker, and about 100 times
cheaper than printing a [regular] gun. For eight dollars I can pop
down to Home Depot and build a shotgun.”
“The cops killed more people alone last year than all active shooter
incidents in the last ten years,” he says. “We live in a society, in
America, where you run the risk of a cop blowing your ass up for no
specific reason. You don’t even have to present a threat to them. A
cop can kill you and get away with it just because he really wanted to
He then went on to cite the many police shootings of unarmed black men
in American, specifically mentioning Stephon Clark. Clark, 22, was
shot to death by police in his own back garden while holding nothing
but a mobile phone. “I believe it is inherently important that … you
should be able to own a gun,” Ivan continued. “You should be able to
own the same legal force that the cops are using to control you.”
A mix of a libertarian attitude and the rewarding hobby aspect of
designing and creating something is often what drives members of these
decentralised 3D-printed gun networks to do what they do – that is,
uploading schematics, sharing them, improving designs, and making
3D-printed gun work more easily accessible while remaining largely
under the radar. Ivan claims he does this for a love of freedom and
“radical” belief in the US first and second amendment: free speech and
the right to bear arms.
He takes this to such a radical degree though, that he even theorises
he should technically be able to have his own Tomahawk Missiles,
saying that they would be safer in his hands than in those of the US
Military and its allies – given the country's track record for
accidentally targeting civilians, including a wedding party in
Afghanistan and a school bus in Yemen.
Referring to the mounting list of civilian killings carried about by
US forces in foreign wars, Ivan sounds at times more like a radical
leftist than the right wing “gun nut” many in America label him as. He
claims not to have any specific ideology though, saying: “I get to be
my own special snowflake.”
As of now, Ivan the Troll, Deterrence Dispensed, and the thousands
many more 3D-printed gun enthusiasts connected to each other
worldwide, have essentially let the cat out the bag. There is no way
to stop the anonymous file sharing of 3D-printed guns online. Whether
they’re just pretending to be doing this for reasons of liberty or
otherwise, their message is clear: it’s already too late to stop.
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