Can’t Stop the Signal

Cody Wilson, a founder of Defense Distributed, is a name too often connected with the failures of corporate and government bureaucracy. For those not in the know Defense Distributed is a Texas non-profit that defends the so-called constitutional right to bear arms. 

But once again this supposed “guarantee” will be abridged by another corporation. This time it is Fed-Ex, joining UPS in refusal to ship Defense Distributed’s “Ghost Gunner.” The Ghost Gunner is a milling machine specifically designed to turn 80%-finished AR-15 lower receivers into 100%-functioning AR-15 lower receivers — without serial numbers or registration.

There are allegedly potential legal issues involved but as Brian Doherty of Reason reports, “Wilson has consulted with lawyers on whether his Ghost Gunner raises any legal or regulatory questions involving weapons … under current relevant law, regulation and policy, the GG Mill … as a product is not subject to GCA [Gun Control Act] regulation, nor  is it otherwise subject to ATF jurisdiction, control, or regulation.”

This situation is eerily reminiscent of when Indiegogo deleted Defense Distributed’s initial fundraiser, and analogous to Stratasys‘s termination of its lease of a 3D printer to the outfit when it learned the printer  was being used to make gun parts.

This history of limiting access to the public shows that  corporate culture can’t be trusted much more than the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. In its stead I suggest the sharing economy.

Sharing economies are peer to peer operated and rely more on  lateral processes than top down and overly-organizational and bureaucratic approaches. Roadie, a smartphone application that sees itself as the “Uber of package delivery” is a good example of the sharing economy in action and it just got a big boost from an unlikely source: Waffle House.

Amar too reports that people who use Roadie will now “… be able to meet and execute deliveries at the company’s 1,750 diners across the US, which are open 24 hours a day.”  In addition he says, “Waffle House will also offer a free waffle and drink to drivers making deliveries at their eateries.”

This is a big step forward for the sharing economy, at least in the short run. But in the long run we still need to build multiple services like Roadie. Especially ones that bring the anti-capitalist tendencies of the sharing economy to the forefront. This means opposing corporate obstacles as much as state-based obstacles.

Hopefully as the sharing economy becomes bigger and is able to thrive more on its own Wilson and others won’t need to rely on corporations to get the dirty work of distribution done.

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