Sen. Menendez Wants Twitter to Delete Links to 3D Printed Firearms Software

P. Gardner Goldsmith | March 22, 2019
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It’s a good thing politicians offer us so many examples of how they really feel about our rights.

Take Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ). He was recently recorded threatening to call the police on a reporter, and now, he’s reiterated his antipathy for freedom of speech while reaffirming his loathing for the right to keep and bear arms.

Reason’s Brian Doherty notes that on March 7, Big Boy Bob issued a self-congratulatory press release calling on Twitter’s bearded CEO wonder, Jack Dorsey, to pull Tweets from a user who offered links to “downloadable blueprints to 3-D printed firearms”, and to prevent future posts of such information.

Said His Bigness:

3-D printed lethal weaponry pose a unique risk to the public as they cannot easily or reliably be detected by metal detectors at airports, schools, governmental or other facilities.

And, of course, we can point out that his federal TSA has been found to consistently miss between 70 and 80 percent of weapons mock-ups in various tests since its inception during the George W. Bush Administration, kids in the public school system routinely find ways to sneak firearms past metal detectors in schools, and most government buildings are guarded by people… with firearms. Attackers intent on doing harm find alternate vectors of attack, such as trying to gun-down GOP politicians at softball practice in a place where gun possession is highly restricted.

But regardless, perhaps Senator Menendez isn’t familiar with the idea that people not only have a right to bear arms – a right that is supposedly protected against people like him by the US Constitution he swore to protect and defend – but that we also have an inherent right to share information without him interfering or calling for such interference from a corporation that can be targeted by the feds.

Menendez blithely pontificates:

At a time when the firearm death rate is at an historic high, I do not believe one of the country’s most prominent tech companies should be facilitating access to these deadly weapons…

There’s just one problem with that, and it’s a problem that could be said of many things that  politicians like Menendez tell us.

It’s misleading.

It’s misleading because homicides committed with firearms decreased in 2018. Menendez conveniently neglects to mention that fact, and neglects to mention the fact that what he calls the increase in the “firearm death rate” is not an increase in homicides. The increase overall can only exist if he includes suicides committed with guns. As tragic as any kind of suicide is, the rate for those rose in 2018.

Any sensible person seeing how Menendez omitted this striking and important distinction might just get the impression that Bob isn’t playing fair and might, just might, be trying to mislead by omission.

Additionally, as Doherty points out, the information Menendez wants suppressed would require approximately $500,000 worth of equipment in order to manufacture the firearm. It would be much easier to purchase hundreds of firearms on the black market than to make one with the 3-D printing tech necessary to make just one.

And, as Doherty notes, Menendez appears to be laying pressure on Twitter at a time when the courts are going through the legal dispute over whether these blueprints can be legally disseminated. The New Jersey government banned the transmission of the info last year:

Menendez's state of New Jersey passed a law last year trying to ban the transmission of software that could help instruct a home device to make a weapon to anyone not a licensed gun manufacturer. Defense Distributed, whose controversial founder Cody Wilson was called out specifically by the state's attorney general as the law's target, sued along with other Second Amendment interest groups to block enforcement of the law, which they think violated the First Amendment, the Supremacy Clause, and the Commerce Clause.

Doherty also notes that the case was thrown out by a US District judge in Texas on jurisdictional grounds.

While that dismissal is under appeal in the 5th Circuit, a separate suit along the same grounds was filed in February in federal court in New Jersey. In that case an initial request for a preliminary injunction against the state also so far failed and is on appeal to the 3rd Circuit, according to Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation, one of the parties to the suit.

But, of course, Twitter is not based in New Jersey. It’s based in California. So Menendez’s message to Twitter’s Dorsey can be nothing more than a veiled threat of potential federal hassles, shortly after Dorsey appeared before Congress to testify on Twitters seemingly unbalanced enforcement of its “strikes” rules for deplatforming.

Is it getting hard for you to take Bob Menendez seriously?

Not only does the man evidently detest the idea of respecting his neighbor’s right to keep and bear arms – even as he is protected by armed, tax-funded guards in the Senate, he appears to have a difficult time comprehending the basic fundamentals of free speech, even as he uses his own to offer apparently veiled threats to Twitter that it had better do as he say, or—

The last part of that conjecture was supposed to be something Americans weren’t supposed to worry about when it came to the feds.

It’s a shame Bob Menendez doesn’t seem to comprehend that.

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