We haven’t heard directly from GG or Defense Distributed or Cody Wilson, but he’s tweeting up a storm on the subject. (Not having heard is irritating, when he’s sitting on four figures of our money. But we’ve received only one of the updates supposedly sent to all hands since purchasing a GG).
Both FedEx and UPS have refused to ship the Ghost Gunner, and there is no convenient common carrier option apart from that shipping duopoly.
The funny thing is this: despite its name and its firearms application, the Ghost Gunner is really a general-purpose, open-source, CNC machine tool. We want it as much to see what ecosystem of fixtures and part files emerges, and to apply to airplane building, as we do as a way to do custom lowers (for which there are already other machines are on hand.
According to the shippers, any machine that might be used by a private party to ship guns is contraband, the law be damned. (It’s suggestive that both carriers reached this unique interpretation at the same moment in time). Does this mean that Sherline, Taig and Miniature Machine Shop will not be able to ship their goods in interstate commerce? (We probably shouldn’t give the Feds, whose threats are no doubt at the bottom of this debacle, any ideas).
Apparently, one part of the “a pen and a phone” system of government that has replaced the obsolete Constitution in latter days is the ability to declare contraband not just things that some politicians don’t like, but machines that can make the things.
One is reminded of the old Communist system, which not only had a media monopoly and pervasive state surveillance, but went so far as the licensing and registration of deadly assault information technology, which in those days meant typewriters and mimeograph machines. Russian dissidents circulated manuscripts copied, sometimes one-at-a-time in the fashion of medieval monks defending knowledge from a new Dark ages, in a cultural phenomenon called samizdat – a term with the denotation of “self publishing” but a connotation of underground, forbidden, risky activity.
FedEx is particularly two-faced in this, as they offer NRA discounts, which is why Cody initially used them. But statements from FedEx spokesman Scott Fiedler to Wired and other online outlets make it clear that the company is fully on-board with the administration here. UPS spox Dan McMackin has confirmed that his firm, too, is firmly in the antigun camp and is pleased to collaborate in Administration anti-gun initiatives.
Wired Magazine’s Andy Greenberg goes all out to give the carriers the benefit of the doubt, but reaches (with the help of anti-gun UCLA professor Adam Winkler, who’s studied and written about gun control in America) an interesting conclusion (and one that Cody Wilson would recognize as suitably bleak for would-be regulators):
FedEx seems to be joining the same club of companies trying to avoid any part in digital DIY gunsmithing. But as more tools like 3-D printers and CNC mills find their way into Americans’ homes, they may have to face the reality that those devices can also create deadly weapons, says UCLA’s Winkler. “It’s going to be very hard to get people to stop using these same devices to make firearms,” he says. “To a certain extent, FedEx will have to get used to shipping gun-making machines.”
There is good news for buyers in this, perhaps: by refusing to deliver the product, FedEx and UPS are in effect insuring you against the project’s failure to deliver. If you never get the product you have paid for, you can add the carriers as defendants to your suit, and recover from their (and their reinsurers’) deep pockets. They want to take a partisan, political position? Let them pay for it.
For More Information:
Ostensible Cody Wilson letter (he did not send this to us, and we are fully-paid purchasers). If this is authentic, it looks like what began as a dispute over rates escalated into an outright ban on shipping, based on what FedEx was told by persons unknown but presumably aligned with the Administration:
That email was posted by Ars Technica writer Cyrus Farivar; Farivar’s article follows:
Reason Magazine’s Hit & Run Blog:
Since the initial statements of anti-gun and anti-manufacturing policy, both FedEx and UPS have clammed up.