Recently it was announced that the government was re-evaluating the Arms Export Control Act which was implemented under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. Under this act it is prohibited to share technical information about arms and munitions ranging from handgun ammo to strategic bombers without prior licensing. The intent, as I understand it, is to protect state and trade secrets so that intellectual property rights and our nation’s capabilities and weaknesses in terms of weaponry. My background in international arms and conflicts tells me this makes some sense. I say some sense because much of this information is already floating in the public domain.
When the Act was originally written the internet didn’t exist and so most of what was in the domestic public domain remained domestic assuming there were no foreign intelligence services working here in the US, and that is one very idiotic assumption. According the legal arm of the National Rifle Association the government is planning to forbid discussion of arms and munitions technical data online as the internet generally operates without borders. The GBGuns community is a great example of this as 22% of our community comes from outside the United States. In fact, as of this writing citizens of 172 countries have watched or participated in our discussions. While I am not pleased that some of those viewers may be enemies to the American way of life, I must say that our freedom of expression is one that is guaranteed by that way of life and the reason why this blog, the YouTube channel, and Facebook community exist.
What I find most disturbing about the threat to shut down bloggers like myself is the cultural change that it could effect. The main goal of GBGuns is to help people safely and smartly learn about firearms, products, methods etc. It is to share knowledge and break down barriers and anti-gun concepts that firearms are scary evil things that serve no purpose other than to further crime and war. I have taught a lot of people how to shoot and given several more familiarizations with firearms so that they could safely be around them without fear. If “gun bloggers” are stripped from the internet that free knowledge will go with it too. The information that can show someone how to safely draw from a holster, suggestions on selecting a gun for self-defense, or even what a competition looks like. By censoring those of us who responsibly enjoy firearms and remain ready to exercise our right to not be subjects of our government the negative image of firearms ownership prevails.
Even more bothersome are visions of what a society even more ignorant of firearms would look like. I expect negligent and accidental discharges would rise, and general knowledge by law-abiding citizens to decrease; further giving an edge to the bad guys, producing citizens less ready to defend themselves or their nation, and giving the anti-gun media plenty of fuel for promoting further restrictions. Do not be mistaken, this is an assault on our First Amendment right as a means of further assaulting our Second Amendment rights. Those rights are written the way they were because their authors were angry, and had just experienced extreme repression; their purpose it to keep the people in a position that any future government would be unable to repeat what the British had done.
Coming back to the perceived intent of the Arms Export Control Act and the posting of technical data: I seriously doubt that any more than a fraction of a percent of the discussions we have on forums, videos in YouTube, or articles in print media expose any more technical information to international eyes than they already knew. We aren’t sharing blueprints for ICBMs, we’re sharing experience and knowledge as can be used for self-defense and hobby purposes.