State Department & DefCad: Just What Files Freaked Them Out? (Part I)

Note: This will likely be a five-part series. I will link to all parts below this note once all are done. I am the DefCad.org user, “OpenSourceArmorer.” A big thank you to twitter user @PrintedGunInfo for helping me verify that these are in fact the original screenshots of the objects in question. Contact me via the DefCad forums if you have questions, and no – don’t even ask me for the original .STL files. Unless you can verify that you’re a US citizen, I can’t share them. And in the interwebs that kind of identity verification is hard and pointless. Especially when the files themselves are not that hard to find elsewhere…

 

I’m trying as hard as possible to grasp the state of current affairs right now. Whether it’s the IRS’s recent scandal in the way they handled certain legal applications, or the fact that Eric Holder thinks he deserves special access to Associated Press phone records…

 

 

…the gangsterism of those in power seems nothing short of profound. Then again, a lot of my time has been spent couch-surfing along the west coast now that I have the free time to do so and some people to collaborate with. Maybe the resulting lack of sleep is what makes me think this is just the cold opening to some kind of sci-fi movie. One only beginning to unfold.

 

Which brings me to Defense Distributed, DefCad.org, and the State Department’s recent decision to tell Cody Wilson to (temporarily?) remove certain files from public access. Well, at least from the Mega.co.nz download links. As for the rest of the internet? Well, let’s just say I’m sure Steve Israel will be thrilled at the results. More on him later…

 

Streisand Effect on Liberator Files

Yeah, how’s that restriction from public access going for ya?

 

Someone I kinda sorta know via deep web encrypted chat rooms told me they got a call from some douche at the New York Daily News telling them the State Department had begun taking action against DefCad.org. When I heard the news, I checked the site and it looked like it was being shut down altogether. In fact, it was actually issues with the heavy amount of traffic they were getting. And I think it’s no secret where that same traffic is now directed at – see the image above. :-]

 

Andy Greenberg of Forbes magazine recently wrote an awesome piece on the 3D-Printed Liberator pistol and later did a piece on the State Department’s request that ten files be pulled for their review. In an update on that article, Greenberg included the letter that was sent directly to Cody Wilson which happened to include a particular list I found of interest…

 

This list was ten items that the DoS thought were potentially in violation of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) laws. Given the fact that I’ve had the joy of seeing every Mega Pack release from DefCad (even before files where categorized and a README became standard) and watching it mature with every new version, I couldn’t help but take a look at what the files were that the State Department Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance were so horrified by:

 

1. Defense Distributed Liberator pistol

2. .22 electric

3. 125mm BK-14M high-explosive anti-tank warhead

4. 5.56/.223 muzzle brake

5. Springfield XD-40 tactical slide assembly

6. Sound Moderator – slip on

7. “The Dirty Diane” 1/2-28 to 3/4-16 STP S3600 oil filter silencer adapter

8. 12 gauge to .22 CB sub-caliber insert

9. Voltlock electronic black powder system

10. VZ-58 sight

 

Now comes the fun part: Can anyone take a guess just how many of those objects listed are actually capable of killing anyone? Keep your guess in mind, because I would like to have the joy of highlighting the State Department’s fuckery first hand by showing what each of these actually are. Let us begin!

 

First, let me clarify what is actually classified as being under the State Department’s control:

Guess just how many of the ten files they were ticked about actually fall under this critera.

Guess just how many of the ten files they were ticked about actually fall under this criteria.

 

This is the checklist if you will of what the ITAR deems to be under their control. The screenshot comes from this document.

 

Now in the next post I will begin with the first two objects. The next will cover objects three through five, and then part four will cover parts six through ten. I shall conclude the series with some questions I have for the State Department about this matter. Hopefully all five posts will be done by the end of the week.

 

Selected Bibliography for State Exempt: Part III

Well, I mean to have this post scheduled to be auto-posted but it looks like I failed to set the draft up for that purpose. Anyhow, here it is.

 

Now the third part of a series of posts detailing a list of selected readings related to the subject matter of “State Exempt.”

 

1. The P.I.G. to Capitalism

2. Concise Guide to Economics

3. Economics in One Lesson

4. How Capitalism Saved America

5. Economic Facts and Fallacies

6. Freedomnomics

7. Free to Choose

8. P.I.G. to the Great Depression and the New Deal

9. The Creature from Jekyll Island

10. New Deal or Raw Deal

11. FDR’s Folly

12. The Case for Legalizing Capitalism

13. The Big Ripoff

14. Myth of the Robber Barons

15. Myths of Rich and Poor

16. Markets Not Capitalism

17. Hidden Order

18. Liberty Versus the Tyranny of Socialism

19. What’s Yours is Mine

20. Future Imperfect

21. The Left, the Right, and the State

22. The Triumph of Conservatism

23. Crisis and Leviathan

24. Losing Ground

25. In Our Hands

26. Priceless

27. From Mutual Aid to Welfare State

28. The Tragedy of American Compassion

29. Man, Economy, & State w/Power & Market

30. Out of Work

31. Free Market Cure

32. Shadow Bosses

33. Meltdown

34. Why Men Earn More

35. How Privatized Banking Really Works

 

Out of the five lists I have planned, this one is likely to grow by at least another additional ten books by the time State Exempt hits the shelves. Economics in general involves quite a bit of things to take into account, so I guess I can’t complain.

 

Selected Bibliography for State Exempt: Part II

Continuing with my prior post listing a series of key books I either have read – or plan to read – to get myself in the proper mindset for writing the first State Exempt draft, here is my second list of books in no particular order:

 

1. No Treason – Lysander Spooner

2. The Dirty Dozen – Robert A. Levy & William Mellor

3. The Myth of the Rational Voter – Bryan Caplan

4. Anarchy, State, and Utopia – Robert Nozick

5. The Structure of Liberty – Randy Barnett

6. The Logic of Collective Action – Mancur Olson

7. Gaming the Vote – William Poundstone

8. Democracy: The God That Failed – Hans-Hermann Hoppe

9. The Real Lincoln – Thomas DiLorenzo

10. How Progressives Rewrote the Constitution – Richard Epstein

11. Beyond Politics – Randy T. Simmons

12. Restoring the Lost Constitution – Randy Barnett

 

By now I suspect some readers will start to notice a pattern here if they’ve come across an outline of what will be covered in the five chapters of State Exempt.  🙂

Selected Bibliography for State Exempt: Part I

Recently a twitter user named “FreedomBookClub” began following me and asked me if I had read any books lately worth recommending. As simple as this question was, it really got my head spinning because all this time the blog has been up I should’ve had some kind of bibliography of recommended reads up.

 

I sure am glad that question came up, and so now begins the process of listing all the books I either have read or will read so I can perfect the content of the first draft for “State Exempt: Guide to a Voluntary Society.” This will be the first of a five-part series listing books that I think are relevant to the subject matter of the book. So here is the first list of books off the top of my head:

 

1. The Machinery of Freedom – David D. Friedman

2. Enterprise of Law – Bruce L. Benson

3. To Protect and Serve – Bruce L. Benson

4. Chaos Theory – Robert P. Murphy

5. The Market for Liberty – The Tannahills

6. For a New Liberty – Murray N. Rothbard

7. Anarchy & the Law – Edward P. Stringham (editor)

8. Law’s Order – David D. Friedman

9. The Law – Frédéric Bastiat

10. More Guns, Less Crime (3rd edition) – John R. Lott

11. The Bias Against Guns – John R. Lott

12. Shooting Blanks – Gottlieb & Workman

13. Wired for War – P.W. Singer

14. Ain’t Nobody’s Business if You Do – Peter McWilliams

15. The Myth of National Defense – Hans-Hermann Hoppe

16. Pursuit of Justice – Edward J. Lopez

17. License to Kill – Robert Pelton

18. Master of War – Suzanne Simons

 

So that just about does it for now. I likely will be linking to places where these can be purchased and/or downloaded but for now readers will have to Google these or judge them by their titles alone.

 

Stop Blaming Blackwater on the Free Market – No Really

Of all the various talking points espoused by anyone critical of private protection services in place of government police, none are nearly as ubiquitous as the idea that the “private” defense company Blackwater (later “Xe” and now “Academi”) is somehow an example of how the market would handle protection in practice. But any question about whether it is the private or public sector’s fault that the firm even exists can be answered synonymously with the following question: Who is their biggest customer?

 

In case you have been isolated from current events over the past several years, Blackwater gained infamy through several incidents that involved the death of employees, or Iraqi citizens. The Former CEO (Erik Prince) had tried to downplay much of this by noting that these are just a few missions out of 16,500 or so that they took part in.

 

Whether or not this is actually the case is does not change the fact that this company still  fought a government’s war of aggression that had no real justification to begin with.  Also given the fact that the task Blackwater was given was to escort persons or equipment rather than directly pursue enemy combatants (which is what the military as a whole does), this incident rate could have been much higher if the company was tasked with the same kind of missions that the army or marines carried out. As a whole, it is nearly impossible to tell what the actual casualty rate was. But there are other criticisms I would have against the firm that go beyond the question of whether or not they were as reckless as our ordinary military (as if there actually was a clear distinction).

 

Which brings me back to the objection that they are a good example of the free market in action. Naomi Klein and other progressive critics tout Blackwater as exhibit “A” in their war against free markets. There is just one problem with this appeal: Blackwater as we know it would not have existed in the absence of government influence and support.

 

 

Let us look at the reasons Blackwater is the cause of the State and not the market:

 

1. The family fortune Erik Prince relied on to buy the land that later became Blackwater Headquarters was the result of a government-issued patent on lit sun visors. Without this government-granted monopoly, Prince would have lacked the resources to even start Blackwater in the first place. (1)

 

2. Erik Prince began his interest in military affairs by becoming a Navy SEAL. With this job title gone, as well as the pro-State nationalism that fuels it, it is highly unlikely Prince would have ever had an interest in starting what was essentially a target practice firm that evolved into a defense contractor. (2)

 

3. The original CIA contract to train the first batch of Blackwater employees was what first turned Prince’s training facility (which otherwise would have gone out of business) into the private military company it later became. This contract came about because an associate of Prince actually knew people in the CIA – an example of cronyism in action and not free market demand. (3)

 

4. Let us not forget the actual justification for this CIA contract: The war on terror had been launched, and the very event that helped spur that into action (the 9/11 WTC attacks) was the direct result of an interventionist foreign policy that did not make us safer. To get specific, consider why Osama Bin Laden was so upset in the first place:

 

 

5. The very conflict Blackwater gained the most notoriety for was a case of a government declaring war against another government. In the end, Blackwater/Xe/Academi exists because of actions by the government. Thus, anything Blackwater did wrong cannot be blamed on a capitalism because free market capitalism never created the firm. (4)

 

With all this in mind, I was particularly disgusted when Erik Prince claimed that he viewed Blackwater as the “FedEx” of the military. This analogy is wrong on so many levels; for one, FedEx actually acquires it’s wealth primarily by responding to consumer demand and not government mandates. Fedex actually generates value for paying customers by delivering goods – not by participating in the legalized widescale destruction of both resources and people.

 

If you are still convinced that Blackwater would still exist in the absence of all these government-granted privileges – namely providing the demand for such a firm – then you have placed yourself on some pretty shaky ground. Unlike the private protection services I and other Voluntaryists would advocate, Blackwater did not have to worry about not having a demand for it’s “services” let alone a limited budget.

 

Despite the government factors listed above that led to Blackwater even existing, the bigger hypocrisy in using Blackwater as an argument against free market protection services is that any atrocities they committed do not come close to that of the US military as a whole. If the abuses committed by Blackwater count against the private sector – which they do not for reasons highlighted above – then abuses committed by all branches of the military as well as the mismanagement of the Executive Branch of our government should be held to the same standard.

 

NOTES:

1. See page 10 of “Master of War: Blackwater USA’s Erik Prince and the Business of War” for details.

2. Master of War is also a great reference on this, see also pages 290-291 in “Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror”

3. See 36-41 of “Licensed to Kill”

4. This one is pretty self-explanatory – Blackwater’s primary roles have been in Iraq. They have also been in Afghanistan but the same logic applies: it was the government that hired them.

 

New Year’s Resolution and the Gift of Defense Distributed

I have failed to keep up with this site as much as I intended to (what else is new). But then again, this delay happened during the holiday season so I cannot put the blame all on myself. This year I want to do something differently for once. Each week I will force myself to throw together a draft of a given section from the State Exempt book notes and let people give input. Nothing radical or unusual, except for the fact that it would actually gear this site towards what I started it around in the first place. Aside from this blog, I have also started using Twitter.

 

In the meantime I hope anyone familiar with recent calls to renew the “assault” weapons ban in new form has taken a look at what a group calling itself “Defense Distributed” has managed to accomplish in recent times:

 

 

 

I call this a ray of hope because this looks like an excellent way to render heavy firearms prohibitions meaningless. While I cannot cover in a single post why I think this is a good thing, I will say that this seems to be a key example of how not everything is going to hell in a handbasket these days. Yes, I know that claim needs a fair share of defending too. If anything, check out my previous posts on both “assault” weapons and my next post which makes the case for eliminating nearly all gun regulations in general.

Why I Call Myself a Voluntaryist or Market Anarchist – Part II

In my last post I covered various political labels that have been used to describe the means of association that I advocate – all of which I rejected for reasons covered there. Now I want to cover terms that I do have some sympathy with and explain my preference for them.

 

“Polycentric Law” seems to be a term used by those who admit that voluntary market associations lead to better legal structures, but are worried about alienating anyone with any reference to “anarchy.” To be honest, I think the term is too unfamiliar to the general public, but then again most who cannot grasp what this term means would likely have trouble grasping how the system it refers to would operate in practice anyway. I actually like this label enough to possibly use it to describe what I advocate. The reason being is that explaining what the term means leads to giving a straight-forward explanation of how my preferred system works: You would not be stuck with a single provider of dispute resolution or protection based on your place of residency – simple enough.

 

A much less common phrase that has popped up from time to time is “Panarchism.” At face value, this term seems extremely similar to “anarchism” but there is a critical distinction: Panarchism is actually a form of government that allows you to opt ought in favor of competing states or no government at all – without having to relocate.

 

Now comes the two terms I personally  identify with most: “Voluntaryism” and “Market Anarchy.” While they both communicate more or less the same general means of association, they place greater emphasis on different elements in the process. Market Anarchy simply means an absence of government with free market interactions providing law and other goods/services. Voluntaryism expresses support for any system that allows people to associate in whatever means possible that does not involve coercion.

 

At face value, there seems to be very little difference between any of these, but the subtle message that each of these terms communicate does differ slightly. Sure this is all semantics, but with such a plethora of terms that essentially mean the same thing, I figured it would make sense to clarify why I prefer two labels in particular.

 

Quit Complaining About So-Called “Assault” Weapons

Things have been pretty busy lately for the past few weeks. In the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, many have reacted hastily to suggest that a more strict renewal of the “assault” weapons ban should be put in place with no chance of expiration. But what exactly does this cover and what would it accomplish? This video illustrates why the term “assault weapon” is misleading:

 

 

The clip of the officer that was edited in was made shortly after the Stockton shooting in California. After all these years the media and the public at large is still confused about basic terminology. So far as I know, the term “assault weapon” first entered the language of the debate in the 1990’s when the Brady Campaign decided it would be a useful way to confuse the public at large. The label conjures up an image of a fully-automatic weapon that continues to fire rounds as long as the trigger remains depressed. This is not what the previous or prospective ban covers at all; those sorts of weapons have been illegal since the mid-30’s.

 

“Assault” looks like it will continue to be an adjective placed on whatever politicians at large feel like banning at any given time. Perhaps we will see a call for bans on “assault pistols” in the next decade or two? Now more food for thought:

 

 

In particular I think the fact highlighted at 1:45 in the video is pretty telling when it comes to calls for bans on magazines holding more than ten rounds. What is that supposed to accomplish given that a two-second delay is meaningless for someone who need not worry about other people shooting back?

 

And last but not least, we have the issue of just how lethal these “assault” weapons (whatever that means at this point) actually are. This next video is dated but still makes an important point…

 

 

…that important point is the fact that the cartridge used by the firearm in question is more relevant to it’s firepower than the actual gun itself. In any shooting that involves victims within a confined room it makes little difference if an AR-style firearm is used or a Glock 19. Shooters can easily hit vital organs at that such short distances if they are psychopathic enough to do so.

 

The common talking point that comes up from everyone in support of gun prohibition is that no one “needs” whatever these “assault” weapons are supposed to be. In that case, who defines need? Are we supposed to ban the ownership of everything but food and water or is this vague standard supposed to be used more arbitrarily?

 

Needless to say, these types of weapons are not the choice of criminals at large. As highlighted in one of the videos above, less than 2% of all crimes are committed with them. If anything this administration is simply trying to put another useless law on the books that affects millions of legitimate gun owners who are a risk to no one while doing nothing to save lives. Perhaps we should focus on drone control instead?

 

Excellent Documentary on the War on Drugs: “Breaking the Taboo”

This looks like an excellent overview of why the war on drugs has largely been a failure. If anything, this should be mandatory viewing for conservatives who would vow to vote down any candidate that supports drug legalization. This is one policy area the modern right could use some improvement on:

 


 

Very nicely done in my opinion, and I am sure the late “conservative” hero William F. Buckley would approve.

 

Why I Call Myself a Voluntaryist or Market Anarchist – Part I

In my last posts critiquing “Anarchism: Arguments for and Against” I pointed out the problem of finding an accurate label for any given political ideology. This especially seems to be a problem for any anarchist views given that there are so many variants that can vastly differ from each other in terms of what each is supposed to implement. The views I happen to hold are no exception to this rule whatsoever.

 

Anarcho-Capitalist. Market Anarchist. Libertarian Anarchist. Stateless Libertarianism. Free Market Anarchism. Private Property Anarchism. Polycentric Law. Hell, allow us to throw in Agorist while we are at it.

 

There are so many words that can communicate things that are so similar that it makes me dislike the concept of labels altogether. All of this was so much simpler when I first decided that there was a better option beyond the typical Liberal/Conservative divide. Deciding that maximum freedom in both economic and social issues was something worth pursuing, the term “Libertarian” was an easy label to adopt when I did so in the summer of 2008. Things became much more complicated in mid-fall of that same year.

 

Boy was that a complicated time in my life. I have no plans to go into great detail here about why, but I will say that coming to the conclusion that government was unnecessary for everyone to live the best lives possible did not make things any simpler. The first term that came to my attention for such a viewpoint was “Anarcho-Capitalism.” Simple enough from what I could tell. “Anarcho” referred to no government and “Capitalism” referred to allowing for private ownership and exchange. Good enough for me I thought.

 

Shortly after that the term “Market Anarchist” started appearing in some of the material I would read online. Fine, I can deal with synonyms even if they might be confusing to newcomers. While I have read before that Market Anarchist tends to be more opposed to economic hierarchies (CEOs and the like), this label seems to be perfectly interchangeable with Anarcho-Capitalist. If there is a distinction between the two, it appears to be too trivial for most people in the radical Libertarian camp to even care. In my next post I will explain why I favor this term over many others. For now I want to cover terms I do not use.

 

Libertarian Anarchy is another term that seems to simply be another way of restating what the first two labels I just covered. The only crucial difference lies in what laws would actually be in place. David D. Friedman noted in chapter 31 of his classic book, “The Machinery of Freedom” that Anarcho-Capitalism is not necessarily the same thing as Libertarian Anarchy. In this chapter he notes that private legal systems could lead to laws that are not necessarily Libertarian. Drug prohibition might still exist for example, but those who want such laws in place would have to pay arbitrators and protection services to actually enforce such laws – meaning that any non-Libertarian law would come at a cost to those who promote such laws. This means that an economic incentive would exist for Libertarian law to be the default view – but such law may not be the norm in all cases.

 

You could say this was the epicenter of the whole “Rothbard vs. Friedman” interpretation of what laws would be in place in the absence of government. The former says we must all agree to Libertarian law and not prohibit victimless crimes in any circumstances while the latter says that whatever laws people are willing to pay for should prevail. I cannot go into detail here about which camp I find myself in, but I will say that in practical terms the resulting differences between the two are probably more trivial than most people would realize.

 

Needless to say, “Libertarian Anarchy” is not a term I favor in part because “Anarchy” is a term people use to refer to chaos. It almost sounds like a pejorative term if you ask me. “Stateless Libertarianism” also seems a little undesirable as a term due to the fact that the average person may have no idea what the term “Stateless” even refers to.  Does this mean no “status” or no government?

 

All of the terms I have covered in this post are labels I would never see myself using to describe my views. In my next post I want to cover some terms that I do find to be much more favorable and explain why.