They’re acting like this is legal when in fact it’s the expression of a political preference. The artifact that they’re shipping is a CNC mill. There’s nothing about it that is specifically related to firearms except the hocus pocus of the marketing.
You should know that I am making a legal product, to allow you to make a rifle, and I’m probably going to have to smuggle it out of my own city, because the large shipping cartels are in league with the administration, and I honestly to this day, don’t know how I’m going to ship it.
– Cody Wilson, co-founder of Defense Distributed
Longtime readers of Liberty Blitzkrieg will be familiar with Cody Wilson and his company Defense Distributed. Cody is a brilliant, passionate patriot, and a staunch defender of the Republic. As such, he and his endeavors are considered problematic and offensive by the corporate-authoritarian power structure.
It’s extremely important to constantly flex ones civil rights within so-called “free societies” in order to prove to oneself that they still exist. Cody has been at the forefront of doing just that, and the reaction from the status quo can be extremely instructive in demonstrating just how far we have fallen into a failed soft-fascist corporate state.
Before getting into the meat of this article, it’s important offer some background on Defense Distributed and the CNC mill currently in question. Here’s an excerpt from last year’s post, All Supply of the $1,200 Machine for Making Guns Has Sold Out in 36 Hours:
On Wednesday, Cody Wilson’s libertarian non-profit Defense Distributed revealed the Ghost Gunner, a $1,200 computer-controlled (CNC) milling machine designed to let anyone make the aluminum body of an AR-15 rifle at home, with no expertise, no regulation, and no serial numbers. Since then, he’s sold more than 200 of the foot-cubed CNC mills—175 in the first 24 hours. That’s well beyond his expectations; Wilson had planned to sell only 110 of the machines total before cutting off orders.
While the Ghost Gunner is a general-purpose CNC mill, capable of automatically carving polymer, wood, and metal in three dimensions,Defense Distributed has marketed its machine specifically as a tool for milling the so-called lower receiver of an AR-15, which is the regulated body of that semi-automatic rifle.
As it turns out, sales aren’t the problem, shipping is. As covered by Wired, both FedEx and UPS, what Cody calls the “shipping cartel,” are refusing to ship his product, despite the fact that it is merely a tool, and manufacturing your own firearms is perfectly constitutional.
The new generation of “maker” tools like 3-D printers and milling machines promises to let anyone make virtually anything—from prosthetic limbs to firearms—in the privacy and convenience of his or her own home. But first, those tools have to get to customers’ homes. That’s going to be difficult for at least one new machine with the potential to make homemade firearms, because FedEx is refusing to deliver it.
Last week FedEx told firearm-access nonprofit Defense Distributed that the company refuses to ship the group’s new tool, a computer controlled (CNC) mill known as the Ghost Gunner. Defense Distributed has marketed its one-foot-cubed $1,500 machine, which allows anyone to automatically carve aluminum objects from digital designs, as an affordable, private way to make an AR-15 rifle body without a serial number. Add in off-the-shelf parts that can be ordered online, and the Ghost Gunner would allow anyone to create one of the DIY, untraceable, semi-automatic firearms sometimes known as “ghost guns.”
When the machine was revealed last October, Defense Distributed’s pre-orders sold out in 36 hours. But now FedEx tells WIRED it’s too wary of the legal issues around homemade gunsmithing to ship the machine to customers. “This device is capable of manufacturing firearms, and potentially by private individuals,” FedEx spokesperson Scott Fiedler wrote in a statement. “We are uncertain at this time whether this device is a regulated commodity by local, state or federal governments. As such, to ensure we comply with the applicable law and regulations, FedEx declined to ship this device until we know more about how it will be regulated.”
But buying, selling, or using the Ghost Gunner isn’t illegal, nor is owning an AR-15 without a serial number, says Adam Winkler, a law professor at UCLA and the author of Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America. “This is not that problematic,” he says. “Federal law does not prohibit individuals from making their own firearms at home, and that includes AR-15s.”
Last week the FedEx rep told Wilson in a phone conversation that it wouldn’t ship his mills, though it didn’t offer any legal or policy explanation of the decision until WIRED’s inquiry. After its statement about the Ghost Gunner’s questionable legality, FedEx spokesperson Fiedler declined to comment further on its decision not to ship the devices. Fiedler pointed me to a list of items FedEx won’t ship, ranging from hazardous waste to human corpses. He noted that it also includes marijuana, an example of an item that’s banned by FedEx despite being legal in some states. The list doesn’t include anything about guns or gun-making tools.
The US Postal Service didn’t immediately respond to questions about whether they would allow the shipment of the Ghost Gunner or other potential gunsmithing devices. A UPS spokesperson wrote in a statement that the company will only ship guns and gun parts between holders of a federal firearms license. In a follow-up statement, it confirmed that it won’t ship the Ghost Gunner either. “UPS reserves the right to refuse to provide transportation service for, among other reasons, any shipments that create legal, safety or operational concerns. UPS is continuing to evaluate such concerns with regard to the transportation of milling machines used to produce operable firearms but, at this point in time, will not accept such devices for transportation,” writes spokesperson Dan Mackin. “UPS is continuing to evaluate such concerns with regard to the transportation of milling machines used to produce operable firearms but, at this point in time, will not accept such devices for transportation.”1 2
The most interesting and disturbing part about all of this is that FedEx and UPS do not appear to be acting based on legality, but rather political preference. While they are entitled to do this as private corporations, all Americans should be aware of their decision and the potential future ramifications to freedom and free markets.
Cody was interviewed about the topic on Infowars last night. I suggest watching it.
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