What’s the story?
The planned release of blueprints which would have allowed owners of 3D printers to create their own home-made guns, has been blocked by a federal judge in the US.
Gun crime is already an acknowledged epidemic in the United States. Mass shootings – particularly those taking place around high schools – are terrifyingly regular. There have now been over 1,000 such incidents – classified as 'mass shootings' when more than four people are shot – since 2014. Over 1,000 people died in gun-related incidents in January 2018 alone.
In this context, the idea that anyone in the country could now print their own deadly, plastic gun at home feels like a terribly dark joke. Yet thanks to a set of blueprints released online by a gun advocacy group called Defense Distributed, that’s exactly what has become possible. Just as unbelievably, the organisation reached a legal agreement with Donald Trump’s White House administration in June that would allow them to legally publish the plans.
Once that happened, eight States took steps to sue the government in an effort to block the release, arguing that the release would represent a massive risk to public safety due to the untraceable nature of the weapons. In response, US District Judge Robert Lasnik issued a restraining order – albeit only a temporary one – blocking the release of the plans.
However, an early release of blueprints to Defense Distributed’s website – containing the plans for nine types of print-at-home firearm – were available for a week before the order, and were downloaded more than 1,000 times.
The complaint to the judge called the release of the blueprints ‘a bell that cannot be un-rung’, and with the plans now circulating the internet, there are fears that despite the decision, the damage has already been done.
What have others been saying?
Iain Overton at the Daily Telegraph has called the gun blueprints ‘a looming catastrophe.’
The BBC have produced a helpful explainer on 3D printed weapons and the implications of this so-called ‘advance’ in technology.
Technology website TechCrunch look into the future to ask ‘what’s next’ after 3D printed guns.
#1 – PEACEMAKING
The issue of gun control is often argued to be one of American Rights – as granted by the almost-sacred US Constitution. Yet for Christians, the removal of guns from everyday life is an issue of peace-making – a subject famously raised by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. Jesus says that Peacemakers are blessed in the Kingdom of God, and that ‘they will be called Children of God’ (v9), because of how closely their actions mirror the Father’s heart. The pursuit of peace is littered throughout the Bible, from the Psalms: ‘seek peace and pursue it’ (Psalm 34:14), to the epistles: ‘strive for peace’ (Hebrews 12:14). God loves peace, and calls his followers to actively take part in bringing it.
#2 – SELF-DEFENCE
One of the key arguments for American gun ownership is the need for self-defence, ironically because of the proliferation of guns. In fact, some voices in the pro-gun lobby have even called for teachers to be armed in an effort to prevent school shootings. The New Testament doesn’t seem to support the idea of a ‘right’ to self-defence, instead suggesting that God will be our defender. In Romans 12:19, Paul writes: ‘Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”’ And in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus famously tells his followers: ‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.’ It might not feel intuitive in these entitled times, but Jesus actually seems to tell his followers to submit even to those who would wish them evil. And while this might seem strange, it is perhaps the only way to prevent the cycle of more and more weapons being stockpiled and put into circulation.
Points for prayer
Pray against the further distribution of these blueprints, and that those who have downloaded them will decide against sharing – or indeed using – them.
Pray for the spiralling gun problem in the US, that practical solutions would be found and that gun deaths would begin to decline in the country.
Pray for Christian leaders to speak out on the issues of gun crime and gun control, and influence the debate in the US.
Pray for safety for children and young people especially, as the daily risk of school shootings continues to loom.
Martin Saunders is Youthscape’s Deputy Chief Executive. A former editor of Youthwork magazine and the founding Editor of sister-title Childrenswork, Martin is a popular speaker and the author of various books including ‘Youth Work From Scratch’. He lives in Reigate, Surrey with his wife Jo and their four children.