“To make them put in black letter what they do control is also to make them put in black letter what they don’t control.” When Cody Wilson told me this, I was at first confused. I knew he had to be onto something, because his company, Defense Distributed, is still fighting the battle for gun rights even now that he’s left. But now I understand, and it’s all because of the shenanigans gun makers in California are engaging in to skirt prohibition.
The gun debate is a staple of American politics. Rarely do we hear people not arguing for and against gun control. Furthermore, legislators often aim to make America safer by limiting access to firearms. In liberal states like California, it’s no surprise that legislators continue to do what they do best (or worst). They legislate.
Gun Maker Loophole
But gun makers are having none of this. A recent Wall Street Journal article indicates that firearm manufacturers avoid government interference by making small changes to the weapons. They do this through the “bullet button loophole”. This loophole consists of manufacturers adjusting the bullet button of an illegal gun. Thus, gun manufacturers can sell firearms in states where similar firearms are illegal.
This is where the Cody Wilson quote comes to mind. Every time the government legislates, they set a boundary for themselves. They tell us that this is what they don’t allow. If they don’t put it in legislation, it is allowed. When the state of California prohibits certain weapons, gun manufacturers can avoid the prohibition by making minor alterations to the weapon. Luckily for lovers of liberty, this is a clear limit on government power.
Moreover, the state thrives on ambiguity. If manufacturers are operating in a legal grey area, they can’t be sure how long they will be able to continue. This is where gun manufacturers become crucial for the right to bare arms. As a result of gun production, the government must either make explicit prohibitions or keep things legally grey. In the case of California, they opted for the former.
When gun laws are explicit, it means that manufacturers can turn the tables and make a new weapon. In turn, they make a mockery of prohibition. They show the futility of legislation and make clear that politicians are not saviors. They can’t effectively enforce their ideas simply because humans will always find a way to be free.
The struggle of the gun makers echoes the fight of drug brewers. When the state prohibits certain substances, chemists make minor changes to the drugs. Once it isn’t the same drug, it’s legal. Clearly, prohibition is a joke. Governments just need to clue in and stop trying to limit liberty.
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