Removing Racism

Grant Baldwin

Removing Racism or Erasing History? The Modern Confederate Conversation

June 17, 2015 was supposed to be an ordinary Monday. Ordinary people like eighty-
seven-year-old Susie Jackson, college student Tywanza Sanders, and others had gathered

together at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Susie, Tywanza, and their Christian brothers and sisters were enjoying the tranquility that came

from their weekly Bible study. What made this Monday unordinary, however, was when forty-
five minutes into the service a man pulled out a Glock 41 .45 caliber handgun and open fired,

killing innocent Susie, Tywanza, and seven others (Inwood and Alderman 1). After fleeing to
North Carolina, the authorities caught and arrested Dylann Roof, the man responsible for the
deaths of these nine African Americans. Roof admitted after his arrest that his motives in these
assassinations were “in hopes of igniting a broader race war” (Inwood and Alderman 1). Later
photos and videos would go viral of Roof undeniably participating in hate speech and racist
activities in the past, in particular using the Confederate Battle Flag as a symbol to embody his
hate toward African Americans.
In reaction to this travesty, the South Carolina legislature voted to remove the
Confederate Battle Flag from display on the state’s capitol grounds. This decision sparked a
controversy that spread to cover the entire nation. While it is easy for the victims of the
Charleston massacre and those of other similar hate crimes to understand, many Americans still
refuse to believe that the Confederate Battle Flag or Confederate monuments stand for anything
inherently racist. Many still hold the flag as a symbol that embodies the aspects of living a

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Southern life. A survey done by CNN following the travesty in Charleston suggested that 66% of
white respondents believed that Confederate symbols do not represent racist ideas, in contrast to
the 72% of black respondents who considered the symbols to be intrinsically racist (“Attitudes
Toward Confederate Emblems and Symbols among US Adults, 2015”).
The entire situation provokes a question: Should Americans continue to honor the
symbols and leaders of a group who rebelled against their country and fought to preserve the
enslavement of African Americans on the basis of “preserving heritage?” As of 2016, there were
718 monuments dedicated to the Confederacy or to Confederate leaders across 24 states–13 of
which were not members of the Confederate States of America or were not even states during the
Civil War (“Existing Confederate Memorials and Observances by State, 2016”). In response to
the Charleston massacre and following South Carolina’s example, many city and state politicians
are pushing for the further removal of these symbols and monuments from their public spaces
across the country. Those against removal of these monuments claim it as an attack on their
Southern heritage, or as an attempt to rewrite history.
In this paper, I will look through American history and identify how the Confederate
symbols in question have been connected with racism throughout the past. I will then debunk
some of the misconceptions commonly associated with Southern history and the Confederate
symbols. I will conclude with the outcomes of the recent removals of monuments in New
Orleans and Dallas and address how this debate connects to the larger issue of racial injustice.
History of Hate
To uncover the original motives of the flags and monuments that are under controversy,
we must look back at their history by observing how these symbols have been used over time.
Most history buffs could tell you that the “Southern Cross,” the familiar flag that features a blue
X with thirteen stars, highlighted in white across a red background, was never the official flag of

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the Confederacy. Between 1861 and 1865, the Confederate States of America (CSA) actually
had three official flags, but because of the short lifespan of these three designs, many
Confederate states and their armies adopted the Southern Cross as their battle flags for the
duration of the Civil War. The adoption and use of this flag by the Confederate armies ensured
that the symbol would go down in history as being associated with the CSA and everything it
stood for (Webster and Leib). The flag embodied rebellion against the United States in the fight
to preserve enslavement of African Americans, and would continue to embody these ideas until
Although the Confederacy lost the Civil War in 1865, many would argue that its
convictions remained alive. These convictions were voiced through the hoisting of the Battle
Flag and erection of monuments dedicated to Confederate leaders. During the Reconstruction
era, the Battle Flag was flown over private residences across the South to voice opposition
against the occupying federal soldiers (Webster and Leib). As Reconstruction ended, these
federal troops withdrew from the South and brought their racially progressive laws and
politicians home with them (Curtis). White Southerners once again rose to political power and
quickly began to disenfranchise African Americans. As discriminatory laws became a more
common occurrence, some would say that it is not coincidental that this time also brought the
erection of hundreds of monuments honoring Confederate leaders (Gibson and Reich). The first
Confederate monument built in New Orleans was dedicated to General Robert E. Lee in 1884, 19
years after the defeat of the Confederacy (Curtis). The timing of the construction of these
monuments help us see that they were likely built due to Southern bitterness toward the Federal
Government and primed racial prejudice, rather than as symbols of Southern heritage. The flags
and monuments were instruments played by racist Southerners that vocalized a reminder that
African Americans would remain on the bottom of the social ladder.

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Opposition to the Civil Rights movement in the South saw a second revitalization of
Confederate remembrance. The flag quickly returned to the public eye due to events surrounding
the Democratic Party’s national presidential nomination convention in 1948, when numerous
proposals regarding the civil rights of African Americans were added to the party’s official
platforms. In response to the party’s shift, multiple delegates from the South stormed out of the
convention while waving the Southern Cross (Webster and Leib). Later in August that year,
these Southern delegates held their own so-called “Dixiecrat” convention in Birmingham,
Alabama in an effort to display to the Democratic party that the South was not in favor of the
emerging Civil Rights movement (Webster and Leib). It was at this convention that the Battle
Flag was readopted as an emblem for white supremacy and racial prejudice in the 20th century.
As the Civil Rights movement gained more ground, the Confederate flag and further
erection of monuments progressively became more associated with protest against African
Americans’ newly gained freedom. Following the pivotal Brown v. Board of Education Supreme
Court ruling, white citizen councils, supported by the imagery of the Battle Flag, formed in
Mississippi to speak publicly against the desegregation of schools. It is at this time that states
like Georgia and South Carolina voted to fly the flag over their state capitol domes (Webster and
Leib). Hate crimes toward African Americans were commonly seen alongside the Battle Flag;
there were even reports of peaceful black protesters in Alabama being pelted with urine filled
balloons thrown from cars decorated with Southern Crosses (Inwood and Alderman 2). All of
these incidents specifically sprung as a reaction to more liberties being given to African
Americans, not as a celebration of Southern pride. As the fight for civil rights continued, the use
of Confederate names and symbols in public places skyrocketed; culminating in over seven
hundred statues and monuments, one hundred schools, ten US military bases, and eighty counties
and cities named after Confederate figures (“Confederate Remembrance”). Once again, the

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timing of these incidents makes apparent that these symbols served a larger purpose than simply
honoring the South’s heritage. Rather, it can be concluded that they were specific reactionary
symbols, sparked by the original convictions of the Confederacy, to voice a pro-discrimination
and white supremacy agenda.
While African Americans may have won the fight for civil rights, Confederate symbols
continue to ignite racial passions like no other symbol in the United States to this day. This is
apparent by the aforementioned tragedy at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in
Charleston. Dylann Roof was driven by hate toward African Americans which he voiced, in part,
by the use of the Confederate Battle Flag. Many Americans view this tragedy as a wakeup call to
remove these symbols and monuments from public spaces, on the belief that the government
should no longer sponsor symbols that embody a history of prejudice and racial violence. But
despite an apparent history of hate, some refuse to let go of what they assert to be a part of their
The Lost Cause
Many Southerners could easily defend their pride toward the flag as a piece their heritage
by pointing to examples from pop culture. The 1930’s film Gone with the Wind displays the
Battle Flag and idealized the perfection of the Southern life, disconnected from racism (Webster
and Leib). Dukes of Hazard fans will associate the flag with the television show from the ‘80s,
which featured a car named after Robert E. Lee embellished with the Southern Cross. Prominent
musical groups like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Pantera, and Hank Williams Jr. have all famously flown
the flag alongside their fans to proudly show their Southern pride (“Confederate
Remembrance”). All of these examples could easily portray how Confederate symbols are not
connected with hate, rather with an idea of their regional glory. The symbols bring out the best of
the South: barbeques, football, charm, courtesy, and extravagant or rebellious lifestyles. Simply

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because certain groups have used the flag to personify their racism in the past, their actions do
not represent the view of all Southerners, they could argue. This argument, however, has
difficulty holding strong when the original motives of the Confederacy are examined, or when
put into the perspective of black Southerners.
“The Lost Cause” is a term used by many historians describing the cultural phenomenon
that occurred in the South following the Civil War. Social scientist Mary Tompkins Gibson
describes the Lost Cause as a, “…narrative, debunked by scholars, that cast the Civil War as a

noble, but unwinnable battle between Southern gentlemen who fought for liberty and self-
determination against Yankee aggression” (Gibson and Gabriel). She argues that Southerners

who pushed forward the Lost Cause narrative attempted to remove the guilt from white
Southerners surrounding the enslavement of millions of African Americans and for causing
America’s bloodiest war (Gibson and Gabriel). Major tenants of the Lost Cause ideology include
the insistence that the Confederacy left the Union over state’s rights, not over slavery, and that
slavery was a divine institution that benefited both the slave and the master (Curtis). It is
basically a detachment of all things unpleasant from the Confederacy or its history, and the
attachment of all things praiseworthy. This ideology entrenched incorrect perceptions in the
minds of many white Southerners regarding the reality of slavery, and these perceptions have
continued to endure over generations. It could be argued that the Lost Cause ideology is what
caused many to view Confederate leaders and flags with skewed perceptions as virtuous pieces
of their heritage, even to this day.
If these statues and flags truly do stand for Southern heritage, why do Southern African
Americans typically not share the same viewpoint? As evident from the examples
aforementioned, black Americans were typically on the losing side of Southern history. The
heritage that many are trying to protect is not one that black and white Southerners share. New

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Orleans’ Mayor Mitch Landrieu provided perspective when he spoke at his city’s removal of
four Confederate monuments, he expressed:
Another friend asked me to consider these four monuments from the perspective of an
African American mother or father trying to explain to their fifth-grade daughter who
Robert E. Lee is and why he stands atop of our beautiful city. Can you do it? Can you
look into that young girl’s eyes and convince her that Robert E. Lee is there to encourage
her? Do you think she will feel inspired and hopeful by that story? Do these monuments
help her see a future with limitless potential? Have you ever thought that if her potential
is limited, yours and mine are too? We all know the answer to these very simple
questions. When you look into this child’s eyes is the moment when the searing truth
comes into focus for us. This is the moment when we know what is right and what we
must do. We can’t walk away from this truth. (Landrieu par. 10)
His rhetorical inquiry sheds light on what effect these monuments and symbols have on the
African American community: constantly reminding them of a past where they were treated less
than human. The monuments lie to white Southerners, tricking them to believe a false narrative
that establish horrible things like slavery and discrimination as praiseworthy. Black Southerners
are also lied to, deceiving them to accept a history that lowers their potential and self-worth. To
African Americans, this is not heritage, it is horror.
Removing Monuments & Moving Forward
Inspired by the mass shooting in South Carolina, people’s eyes are beginning to open
regarding the true meanings of these Southern symbols. As previously mentioned, the city
council of New Orleans, Louisiana approved the removal of its four Confederate monuments in
2017. Because of opposition, many of the monuments’ removals took place late at night by
crews wearing bulletproof gear, while being watched over by snipers surrounding the locations

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(Curtis). At the removal of Robert E. Lee’s monument, large groups advocating for and against
the removal arrived earlier than 3:30 A.M. The streets were filled with signs reading “Take ‘Em
Down” and “Heritage, Not Hate” (Curtis). As morning rolled around, Mayor Mitch Landrieu
declared, “The Civil War is over, and the Confederacy lost and we are better for it” and
encouraged the citizens to break free from the Lost Cause perspective that tainted the city
(Landrieu). The opposition conceded, and the evening saw streets filled with Mardi Gras-like
celebrations featuring big brass bands and dancing. Lee was taken down from his pedestal,
starting a brighter future for the city of New Orleans.
In Dallas, Texas, a particular group called the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV)
sought legal means from the federal courts to hinder the removal of their beloved Confederate
monuments. Following New Orleans’ example, the city of Dallas approved to get rid of multiple
Confederate monuments and statues from public city locations. The SCV filed a lawsuit,
Patterson v. Rawlings, against the city council and mayor on allegations that the SCV’s
constitutional rights of free speech were being violated due to the removal of the monuments
(Kozlowski). When brought to the court, the SCV argued that the planned removal, “infringed on
their political viewpoint communicated by the monuments” (Kozlowski 3). The city responded
by claiming that removing a monument did not restrict any one person or group’s ability to
exercise free speech. The court acknowledged the following: “…in this instance, the federal
district court found no suggestion that Patterson and SCV had been deprived of any First
Amendment freedom for any period of time,” and that, “the removal of Confederate monuments
from City-owned property would in no way ‘prevent [the SCV] from expressing [their] political
viewpoint’” (Kozlowski 3). The court’s ruling added the stamp of approval to the removal of the
monuments and specified that their removal in no way infringed on the rights or freedoms of
those in favor of the monuments’ preservation.

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After South Carolina, New Orleans, and Dallas, opponents of the flag and symbols would
seem to have plenty of reasons to celebrate. Many see these victories as dramatic advances
toward social justice for African Americans. Social scientists and political geographers, Joshua
Inwood and Derek Alderman, admit that the removal of the flags and statues are great places to
start, but they are only the beginning to addressing the problem of structural inequality (2). They
explain, “…while state legislatures from across the South should be applauded for taking down
Confederate symbols, this is not the same as addressing the deeply entrenched social spatial
conditions that allow white supremacy to permeate not just the Charleston AME church but
wider swaths of American life” (Inwood and Alderman 2). As evident from the innumerable
events of historical and modern racial violence in the South, removing the flag and these
monuments are only the beginning on a long path toward eventual racial justice. The recent
removal of the flags and statues are victories, but that in no way implies that African Americans
should stop fighting the greater war.

In the context of the Confederate flag and monuments, it is important to remember the
difference between honoring and remembering something. Survivors of the holocaust and 9/11
encourage us to “never forget” these atrocities, yet we do not see monuments honoring Adolf
Hitler or Osama Bin Laden. Many would argue that removing our Confederate monuments from
the public scene would erase the Confederacy’s history from the South. Remembering history is
in no doubt important and crucial to moving forward, but remembering and honoring are two
very different things. It is crucial that as Americans remember the mistakes that have been made
in our past, especially slavery and racial discrimination, for these will provide us the basis and
judgment to make better decisions in the future. The preservation these symbols in public places

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as alleged virtuous pieces of history illustrates that as Americans, we are proud of the civil
injustice committed against African Americans. By removing the monuments, we recognize the
mistakes of our past, stripping away the blindfold of the Lost Cause that has impaired our view
for too long. We hope not to forget these mistakes as we strive to move forward into a better
future. We must always look back, not forgetting or altering the truth of what has occurred, and
continue by looking forward and righting the wrongs done by those before us.

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Works Cited

“Attitudes Toward Confederate Emblems and Symbols among US Adults, 2015.” Gale Opposing
Viewpoints in Context, Gale, 2017. Opposing Viewpoints in Context,
&xid=cb0c09d5. Accessed 29 Nov. 2018
“Confederate Remembrance.” Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, Gale, 2017. Opposing
Viewpoints in
=OVIC&xid=9c13fc96. Accessed 15 Nov. 2018.
Curtis, Wayne. “Decommissioning Lee: The Controversial Removal of a Prominent New Orleans
Statue.” The American Scholar, vol. 86, no. 4, 2017, p. 97+.,
“Existing Confederate Memorials and Observances by State, 2016.” Gale Opposing Viewpoints in
Context, Gale, 2017. Opposing Viewpoints in Context,
=4db30dd3. Accessed 29 Nov. 2018.
Gibson, Mandy T. “Confederate Monuments: Heritage, Racism, Anachronism, and Who Gets to
Decide?” Social Education, vol. 81, no. 6, 2017, pp. 356-

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Inwood, Joshua F. J., and Derek Alderman. “Taking Down the Flag is just a Start.” Southeastern

Geographer, vol. 56, no. 1, 2016, pp. 9-15,

Kozlowski, James C. “Standing to Challenge Removal of Confederate Park Monuments.” Parks &

Recreation, vol. 53, no. 5, 2018, pp. 34-39,

Landrieu, Mitch. “Mitch Landrieu’s Speech on the Removal of Confederate Monuments in New
Orleans.” The New York Times, 23 May 2017,

Webster, Gerald R., and Jonathan I. Leib. Whose South is it Anyway? Race and the Confederate
Battle Flag in South Carolina. vol. 20,

Blood and Ash

Collin Beus

Blood and Ash:
The Battle of Iwo Jima

Thesis and Outline

The Battle of Iwo Jima was one of the costliest American battles of WWII because of the
strategic importance of the island and the leadership of both sides.
I. Background to Iwo Jima
A. Japan’s expansion in the Pacific
B. American island-hopping campaign
II. Strategic Importance of the Island
A. Importance to Japan
B. Importance to United States
III. Leadership
A. Tadamichi Kuribayashi
B. Defense of Iwo Jima
C. American leadership
D. Effects of leadership on the battle

A little-known fact about hell: it can be found on the map. No, I’m not talking about any
small towns in the world that are quirkily named after the underworld. I’m talking about a small,
ash-covered island where thousands of men died in the most brutal and tortuous ways. The name
of this location? Iwo Jima. When most Americans hear this name, their minds conjure up the
image of six soldiers heroically mounting the American flag atop Mount Suribachi. To many,
this image symbolizes the highest forms of patriotism and valor. But, although it has been
romanticized, the actual battle for Iwo Jima was much bloodier and messier than most
Americans know. In fact, it was one of the costliest battles in Marine Corps history. Taking this
small island was a crucial step in the U.S. Pacific island-hopping campaign leading up to the
Japanese home islands, but it came at a high cost: some of the most brutal and bloody fighting in
all of WWII that left 6,000 Marines dead and many more wounded. Was winning this island
from the Japanese worth it? Why was this the only battle of the war where American casualties
exceeded that of the Japanese? The Battle of Iwo Jima was one of the costliest American battles
of WWII because of the strategic importance of the island and the leadership of both sides.


It’s important to understand the circumstances leading up to the Battle of Iwo Jima, and
why the opposing forces of Japan and the United States found themselves at war over this little
island. To understand this, the battle must be viewed in the larger context of the Pacific War. The
day after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 8, 1941, the United States declared war on
Japan. From this point onwards, Japan swiftly began capturing island after island, including the
American islands of Guam and Wake. This was the start of not only the War in the Pacific, but a
long Japanese campaign in the coming years to expand their empire, with the eventual goal of
conquering as far south as Australia and New Zealand and as far west as India (Taylor). Why

were the Japanese so intent on expanding, though? Were they motivated solely by greed for more
land and resources? According to Iwo Jima veteran Richard Wheeler in his novel Iwo, “[The
Japanese] dreamed of creating a rich and powerful empire, one of benefit to all people of their
color, and one safe not only from Western exploitation but also from Russian communism. Many
Japanese viewed the war [in the Pacific] as a holy crusade” (Wheeler 6). After years of Western
“exploitation” of Pacific islands, the Japanese saw it as their right to finally assert their power
and way of life over all peoples in the East and the Pacific. By the end of 1942, Japanese
expansion had reached as far south as the Solomon Islands off the northern coast of Australia as
well as most of Papua New Guinea. At last, the American Navy and other Allied forces began to
turn the tide of the war against Japan, winning decisive battles such as the Battles of Guadalcanal

and Midway. Led by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, American forces led a successful island-
hopping campaign to reclaim island after island from the Japanese.

By early 1945, the Japanese navy was virtually decimated, and American forces found
themselves at the doorstep of the Japanese home islands. Although victory seemed inevitable for
the Allied countries, “the timing and cost were still unclear” (Roehrs 200). Having grown more
and more desperate, “military planners in Tokyo placed their last hopes on exacting such a heavy
cost in Allied lives in the approaching campaigns that negotiated peace would substitute for
unconditional surrender” and Japan could hopefully maintain at least a part of their once mighty
empire (200). Overall, the Japanese knew they were hopelessly outmatched, but were determined
to make the upcoming battles exceedingly bloody and brutal for their enemies. And thus,
American and Japanese forces found themselves drawn to the tiny island of Iwo Jima.


Strategic Importance of Iwo Jima

In the context of the Pacific War, Iwo Jima was of immense strategic importance to both
sides, resulting in determined fighting and massive casualties in the ensuing battle. But where is
this small island? Iwo Jima lies roughly 575 miles south of the Japanese coast and 660 miles
south of Tokyo. Translated into English, Iwo Jima means “Sulfur Island”—an appropriate name
for an island pockmarked with steaming sulfur deposits. The small fan-shaped island has a
meager area of eight square miles, and its boldest feature is the looming form of a 550-foot
extinct volcano known as Mt. Suribachi (Nalty 1). The rest of the island consists of twisting
black ravines, plateaus covered in volcanic ash, and ridges 340 to 368 feet in height (1). How
could such an insignificant, virtually inhabitable island become a main focus of two warring
world powers? Despite its small size, Iwo Jima held strategic significance for both the Japanese
and the Americans.
For the Japanese, Iwo Jima had already been serving in the Pacific War as a
“sophisticated observation platform” with numerous radar installations (Roehrs 201). This
allowed the Japanese to be constantly aware of enemy movements in the area. The island also
served as Japan’s “forward air warning station, advising of approaching American bombers from
the Mariana islands long before they reached Japan” (201). This advanced warning saved many
Japanese lives and lessened the impact of American bombers on the homeland. Additionally,
Japanese military leaders had constructed and used two full-length airfields to launch direct
attacks on these American bombers headed to the Japanese home islands. For such a tiny island,
Iwo Jima posed a significant threat to American planes and American efforts at fire-bombing

For the Americans, taking Iwo Jima became a main objective partially to eliminate these
threats posed by Japanese forces stationed there. But, Richard Wheeler also clarifies that Iwo
Jima had to be taken “to use as a base to help cover naval operations in Japanese waters, to equip
with a fighter escort service for the very long-range bombers, the new B-29 Superforts, that were
soon to start bombing Japan from the Marianas bases, and to provide these bombers with an
emergency landing place” (Wheeler 30). So, not only was it essential to knock out Iwo Jima as a
Japanese air base and radio station, but the island itself was an invaluable step towards the
Japanese home islands. Its sufficiently large airfields could serve as emergency landing strips for
crippled bombers returning from Japan, and the island could serve as a convenient naval base as
well. For these reasons, the Chief Joints of Staff (essentially the four top US military
commanders of the different military branches) decided in late 1944 that taking Iwo Jima would
become a main objective of their upcoming assaults. And by the war’s end, they weren’t proven
wrong on the island’s importance. An official analysis from the US Marines two decades after
the end of the war stated that “by the war’s end 2,251 heavy bombers carrying 24,761 Americans
had found refuge at Iwo Jima” (Nalty 9). Thus, the island became extremely valuable to the US
Air Force throughout the rest of the fight against Japan.
Both Japan and the United States were determined to have Iwo Jima as a valuable air and
naval base. This great value to both sides led to a bloody struggle for the island in which both
sides were determined to take the island at virtually any cost, leading to the deaths and injuries of
many Marines and the deaths of almost all the Japanese defenders.

Perhaps the most direct influence on the enormous loss of life of Americans on Iwo Jima
was the leadership of Japanese forces stationed on the island. Lieutenant General Tadamichi

Kuribayashi had been assigned to the defense of the island—a smart choice by Japanese war
planners in Tokyo. Kuribayashi was not only a seasoned war veteran in his early fifties, having
served in China in the 1930’s, but was also a brilliant tactician with an eye for details (Burrell
12). Additionally, Kuribayashi spoke English and, due to two trips to the U.S. in the 1920’s, was
very familiar with “American methods of operation” (Caruso 14). This meant that the Japanese
defenders had the distinct advantage of having a general with immense knowledge about the
strategies and tendencies of his enemy commanders. General Kuribayashi was truly a force to be
reckoned with.
By February 1945, the month of the American invasion of Iwo Jima, Kuribayashi and his
men had turned the island into a formidable fortress unlike the world had ever seen. In fact, it has
been recorded that “observers who examined German fortified areas in both World War I and
World War II testified that they had never witnessed a location so thoroughly defended as Iwo
Jima” (Burrell 48). How had they turned this sulfurous, volcanic island into a place of adequate
security and defense? In the months leading up to the American invasion, Kuribayashi had
overseen the construction of three airfields, sixteen miles of connected underground tunnel
systems, and a network of 1,500 interconnecting caves. Historian Mark D. Roehrs described the
defense of the island as a honey-combing of “bunkers, emplacements, and machine gun nests, all
well camouflaged. Many of the Japanese emplacements were impenetrable even to direct naval
gunfire” (Roehrs 201). Japanese soldiers would be well protected from American airstrikes and
naval bombardments in this way. Also, Kuribayashi strategically placed gun emplacements so
that the Japanese were “capable of hitting any inch of the island” (Caruso 15). This meant that no
location on the island was safe from Japanese fire, which lead to constant danger and heavy
casualties for U.S. Marines.

The preparation of American generals for the invasion of Iwo Jima had less of an impact
on American casualties than did Kuribayashi’s defense, but is still quite notable. American
forces composed of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Marine Divisions were chosen for the invasion, and were
led by Major General Harry Schmidt. Like Kuribayashi, General Schmidt had plenty of military
experience, and had played a leading role earlier in the Pacific War (Wheeler 46). However, the
preparation of him and other U.S. officials for the upcoming battle proved to lack the foresight
and brilliance of Kuribayashi’s preparation. Due to disputes between some of the American
leaders, the planned ten-day naval and air bombardment of Iwo Jima was reduced to a mere
three-day bombardment. The attack was still the most extensive and brutal of any pre-invasion
bombardment during the Pacific War, but ultimately had little effect on the strong Japanese
fortifications. This was because Kuribayashi had “ordered his men to stay in underground
shelters until the shelling had lifted, then to man their weapons. The Japanese commander
yielded the beaches. He placed his confidence in the elaborate defensive system tunneled among
the tortuous ravines of the northern plateau” (Nalty 2). Overall, American leaders underestimated
Kuribayashi, and had no idea that the Japanese were so well fortified and so well prepared.
The day of the invasion finally came on February 19, 1945. At 0900 (9 am), the first
American Marines landed on the beaches in amphibious tractor vehicles, quickly unloading from
the backs of the barges and trudging up onto the black sands of the beach. They had commands
to take Airfield No. 1 in the center of the island, as well as Mt. Suribachi to the south, by the end
of the day—a command that proved to be impossible. As the first wave of Marines to hit the
beaches advanced across the plateau, the Japanese suddenly opened fire from their camouflaged
positions dotted all across the landscape. They mowed down Americans with machine guns,
blasted convoys and tanks with mortar fire, and remained virtually invisible to the Marines.

Despite all of this, American soldiers advanced forward, but as many as 1 in 4 of them perished
in the initial fighting. The most effective weapons of the Americans against these Japanese
fortifications proved to be flamethrowers, used to flush out the Japanese from cave entrances and
pillboxes. Yet, each fortification had to be taken individually, and the Japanese soldiers had
commands from Kuribayashi to fight to the bitter end. In fact, “it was largely because the
majority of Kuribayashi’s troops obeyed his orders to make maximum use of their defenses,
supporting each other in an organized manner as long as possible, that Iwo Jima was so difficult
to conquer” (Wheeler 147). Rather than the relatively easy three days to conquer the island that
American generals had planned on, the island of Iwo Jima took virtually a month to conquer.
American underestimation and Japanese determination contributed to the brutality and slow pace
of the battle.
Although the island was declared secure on March 16th, the last pockets of Japanese
defenders weren’t eliminated until around March 26th. And interestingly, individual Japanese
soldiers held out even longer. Two defenders didn’t surrender until 1951, long after the war’s
end (Japanese Soldiers). This truly demonstrated the Japanese honor and courage in the face of
imminent death, particularly when led and encouraged by such a brilliant commander as
Kuribayashi. The Americans had finally taken Iwo Jima, but at an exceedingly bloody and steep
price due to determined Japanese leadership.

In the end, Iwo Jima had to be taken by American forces for its strategic importance, but
determination on both sides as well as brilliant leadership on the part of the Japanese exacted one
of the heaviest costs on American forces in all of WWII. Around 5,931 Marines perished on the
volcanic slopes of that island, with an additional 17,372 Marines wounded. Only the subsequent

battle of Okinawa resulted in more American casualties. The Japanese defenders had nearly as
many casualties as well, with almost all its 22,000 defenders perishing.

So it’s absolutely true that acts of valor and sacrifice took place on Iwo Jima. Twenty-
seven Medals of Honor were awarded for action in Iwo Jima—more than any other battle in U.S.

history. Joe Rosenthal’s famous photograph of the Marines hoisting the flag over Mt. Suribachi
inspired millions of Americans and continues to do so today. But to truly recognize the sacrifice
of those young Marines, Iwo Jima must be remembered for the hell it was.


Works Cited

Burrell, Robert S. The Ghosts of Iwo Jima. Texas A&M University Press, 2006.
Caruso, Patrick F. Nightmare on Iwo. Naval Institute Press, 2001.
Nalty, Bernard C. The United States Marines in the Battle for Iwo Jima. Historical Branch, G-3
Division Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1962.
Roehrs, Mark D. World War II in the Pacific. Edited by William A. Renzi. M.E. Sharpe, 2004.
Taylor, Alan. “World War II: The Pacific Islands.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 25

Sept. 2011,

“10 Japanese Soldiers Who Didn’t Surrender On August 15, 1945.” Listverse, 17 July 2017,
Wheeler, Richard. Iwo. Naval Institute Press, 1994.

On the Road

On the Road to Eliminating Traffic Accidents: Examining the Potential of Autonomous Vehicles

Ben Spencer

The Association for Safe International Road Travel reports that nearly 1.3 million people
die in road crashes each year, and millions more receive injuries (Road Crash Statistics). With
such a looming social problem expected only to rise in coming years, many look for solutions to
combat the cause of accidents. In recent years, car designers and consumers alike have begun
to turn to autonomous vehicles as a potential solution to traffic accidents in the United States
and abroad. Despite concerns with the current state of autonomous vehicle (AV) technology,
research indicates that it holds great potential to significantly reduce traffic accidents and
provide numerous societal benefits, including additional mobility for groups such as the
disabled and the elderly.
Although many view AV technology as a recent development, automated driver
assistance of one kind or another has been in development for the last two decades. Car GPS
Navigation and Adaptive Cruise Control rolled into the market in 1995 (Shubbak 3). Automated
warning systems hit the road in the early 2000’s (Shubbak 3). In 2003, vehicle autonomy
advanced greatly when Toyota launched the first model with an automated parking feature.
With the automated parking feature, sensors on the front and rear of the car allowed it to
parallel park itself into an available lot without driver intervention (Shubbak 3). Since then,
technology industries such as Google and Tesla have made great progress in enabling cars to
operate autonomously in a variety of settings.

Developers and analysts classify AV technology using five levels, each with increased
ability of the car to function autonomously, as shown in the table below, provided by the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (cited in Litman):

Currently, Level 2 automation, including automatic braking and lane positioning, is available on
the market. Level 3 autonomation is being heavily tested, and Google has driven its
experimental cars hundreds of thousands of miles under specific road and weather conditions,
while levels 4 and 5 have yet to be developed (Litman 11). Considering the rate of technological
advancement, along with other factors, some predict that nearly 76 million autonomous
vehicles will be sold globally by 2035 (IHS Clarifies Autonomous Vehicle Sales).
Optimistic figures predicting the rise of AV technology in the coming decades have some
sceptics raising red flags. They question the ability of the system of sensors, lasers, and cameras
to perform in less than ideal circumstances. A technology analyst for the New York Times
mentions weather as a “prime cause of system failures” in which automated vehicles couldn’t
make the necessary judgement calls (Boudette). Considering the frequency of difficult weather

conditions and the potentially dangerous consequences of failure, this is a valid concern.
However, while AV technology is certainly not fully developed, it is hardly infantile. A recent
study published by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute states that “current technologies
allow autonomous vehicle operation in approximately 90% of conditions” (Litman 13). When
the automated system detects that weather and/or road conditions impair its navigation
abilities, it indicates the driver to retake control of the vehicle until the destination is reached
or conditions allow the automation to regain control. A report from Navigant Research assures
readers that ever-progressing sensor and computer technologies are already chipping away at
the weather problem and will “eventually” allow autonomous vehicles “to drive in almost all
road and weather conditions without human intervention” (Automated Driving). Until then,
human drivers will easily retake control of the vehicle without harm or accident occurring.
Critics of the development of AV technology may underestimate the safety
improvements made possible by self-driving cars. Traffic accidents are a major cause of death
and injury, and studies have shown that 93% of accidents are attributed to human error
(Shubbak 3). This means that the reduction of human error would plummet the number of
accidents worldwide, and even slight reductions in the numbers of accidents worldwide would
mean hundreds of thousands of lives spared annually. AV technology offers reduced human
error through enhanced perception, faster reaction times, and the elimination of impaired
Human sensory perception is a remarkable trait of nature, but it’s not foolproof. Senses
can be tricked by optical illusions or can fail to detect danger due to a lack of attentiveness. This
problem is magnified with the vision impaired, including many of the senior population. This

shortcoming of human perception is responsible for traffic accidents, especially those involving
pedestrians and cyclists. Technology analyst John Miller lists as one of the benefits of the rise of
autonomous vehicle technology “the broad range of sensors” that provide detailed tracking of
“the movement of other vehicles, pedestrians, and potential obstacles” and can do so “much
more thoroughly than the average driver” (par 3). Human senses are limited to a single
direction, that is, we can only look one way at a time. But the various cameras and sensors of
autonomous vehicle can scan the surrounding area in all directions, and the on-board computer
can take in and process all this data at incredible rates.
In addition to traditional RADAR and cameras providing the sensory detail for area
imaging, autonomous vehicles use LiDAR or Light Detection and Ranging. A rotating LiDAR
scanner atop the vehicle constantly scans the area around it and “every. . .LiDAR point reflects
full X, Y, Z reflectivity data over time” giving a dynamic 3D image of the surroundings at all
times (Lecklider). Provided with this “instantaneous visual information from multiple vantage
points,” the AV’s computer is able to “[analyze] millions of points” and know with precision the
environment through which the car drives, including “the lay of the road, road conditions, foot
traffic, approaching pedestrians, and vehicle traffic” (Lecklider). High detail imaging and smart
on-board computers are able to recognize and classify moving object as bicycles, pedestrians,
cars, etc. (Lecklider). With their powerful sensory abilities and matchless computational
interpretation of the data, autonomous cars have the potential to widely surpass human driver
perception. This increased perception in turn translates to safer roads, with less car accidents,
especially accidents involving pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists, all of which have proven
notoriously difficult for drivers to detect.

Autonomous cars don’t only bring a high quantity of sensory information received and
processed, but a higher quality as well. A human driver’s vision at night is limited to the beams
cast by headlights, a few hundred feet in advance and only directly ahead of the car. But
thermal cameras, which use Infrared radiation, rather than visible light, to create an image, can
see just as well in complete darkness as it can during the day. AdaSky, a company driven to

make fully autonomous vehicles a reality, has developed a thermal camera specifically for self-
driving cars called Viper (Driven to Save Lives). The company launched a video that contrasts

the view of a human driver using the headlights with the view of the Viper camera (Driven to
Save Lives). The side-by-side comparison of the two shows a stunning difference. Objects seen
by the headlights only seconds before the car passed them were seen clearly from great
distances by the IR camera. When it comes to having a clear picture of the road, a group of
pedestrians, or even a dog crossing the street at night, there is no question that the
autonomous car, equipped with a thermal camera, has the advantage.
Self-driving cars also bring promises of faster reaction times in cases of emergency. AVs
will be able to safely react to danger and hazards much quicker than can human reflexive
capabilities (Miller). The system’s already heightened computational abilities are further
assisted by vehicle-to-vehicle communication known as v2v. While using v2v, cars are
connected, or “talk to each other,” through a reserved, special frequency Wi-Fi connection
(Milford). This wireless connection allows cars close to each other to synchronize their actions,
giving rise to a phenomenon known as “platooning,” or close following by neighboring cars.
Platooning has the potential to increase road capacity and fuel efficiency, without
compromising safety (Milford). In fact, passengers in cars that closely share the road while

using v2v are actually safer. In a traditional car, any driver following behind another must first
realize that the car in front of them is braking, and then follow suit. If the human driver is
following too closely, doesn’t notice in time, or simply doesn’t react fast enough, he/she may
“rear-end” the car in front, which can be especially dangerous at highway speeds. When the
cars are autonomous and using vehicle-to-vehicle communication, the car(s) behind the leader
know when the other vehicles are going to brake even before they do so, and can match their
deceleration (Milford).
The leading cause of automobile-related accident and death in the U.S. is impaired
driving. Alcohol impaired drivers accounted for nearly a third (29%) of all traffic deaths in 2015
(Impaired Driving). Additionally, the influence of drugs (other than alcohol) is present in 16% of
motor vehicle crashes (Impaired Driving). Add to that the percentages of fatal accidents caused
by distracted (10%) and drowsy (21%) driving, and it becomes easy to see the source of the
problem (National Society for Statistics and Analysis; Tefft). If impaired driving of one kind or
another can be identified as the primary cause of fatal accidents, then autonomous vehicles
provide a clear and powerful solution. It is logical to assume total autonomation would entirely
solve the problem, after all, zero drunk drivers means zero drunk driving accidents. But even
partial autonomation (levels 2,3 and 4) offers huge benefits. There will always be those who
choose to get behind the wheel of a car when they shouldn’t, whether it be because of alcohol,
drugs, or fatigue. But the less they have to do to get home after they are behind the wheel is
something that we can change. Autonomous vehicles hold enormous potential to reduce the
amount of accidents caused by impaired driving. And every percentage point of impaired
driving accidents decreased translates to thousands of lives saved per year.

In addition to preventing traffic accidents across the board, AV technology offers
important social benefits. Typically, older drivers tend to have decreased cognitive, motor, and
sensory functions which puts them at greater risk of accident. They become more likely to do
harm to themselves, their passengers, and others, including pedestrians and other drivers on
the road. Autonomous vehicles solve this by decreasing the strain placed on drivers by full or
partial automation of normal driver tasks. Lane departure automation, forward collision
automation, and blind spot automation are examples of simple ways that AV technology
relieves the strain placed on drivers, particularly elderly drivers. (Harper et al.).
Additionally, “many seniors (those over age 65) and people with medical conditions
often face challenges traveling freely and independently” (Harper et al.). All those who are
unable to drive themselves “must rely on family, friends, government, or other providers to
meet their basic mobility needs” (Harper et al.). Transporting these individuals involves a

significant investment of time, energy and resources, and can create a burden for these above-
mentioned groups (they just don’t tell Grandma that). Automated vehicles represent a pathway

that could increase the mobility of the senior and disabled populations, without reliance on a
third party for transportation. It also follows that if the elderly and disabled didn’t have to rely
on “family, friends, government, or other providers” for basic transportation and mobility,
these groups would be able to reallocate their resources elsewhere, saving time, energy, and
The societal benefits of the development of AV technology don’t end at increased
mobility. As mentioned previously, vehicle-to-vehicle communication allows cars to share the
roads more efficiently. As a result, traffic congestion will decrease, and production of

atmospheric pollutants produced by cars will be reduced (Shubbak 5). Much of the urban space
currently used for parking would be unnecessary, freeing it up for other use. There is even the
possibility that city planners adapt to the oncoming changes, narrowing lanes and reducing
unnecessary traffic stops (Litman 10). It is worth exploring more into the possibilities of social
benefits that AV technology could bring to our society.
No one is expected to believe that autonomous vehicle technology is perfect. There are
no perfect solutions to looming social and economic problems such as traffic accidents.
Economists often preach that there is no such thing as a “free lunch,” or in other words, we
can’t expect to get something for nothing. And while AV’s current capabilities have some way to
go before they can fully deliver on the promises made, such promises are worth waiting and
working for. The vast number of deaths and injuries prevented merit our attention and interest.
The social benefits of increased mobility for the elderly and disabled justify our investment and
research. Change in the way that we get around is nearer than we think. One should expect to
see autonomous cars increasingly in the news, on the road, and someday, even in his/her own


Works Cited

“Automated Driving Vehicle Technologies.” Navigant Research, Navigant Consulting, Inc., 13

Sept. 2017,

Boudette, Neal E. “A Ball Bounced into the Road, and Other Hazards.” New York Times,

vol. 165, no. 57255, 2016a, pp. B5,


“Driven to Save Lives.” AdaSky, AdaSky,
Harper, Corey D., et al. “Estimating Potential Increases in Travel with Autonomous Vehicles for
the Non-Driving, Elderly and People with Travel-Restrictive Medical Conditions.”
Transportation Research: Part C, vol. 72, Nov. 2016, pp. 1-9. EBSCOhost,
“IHS Clarifies Autonomous Vehicle Sales Forecast – Expects 21 Million Sales Globally in the Year
2035 and Nearly 76 Million Sold Globally Through 2035.” IHS Online Newsroom, IHS

Inc., 9 June 2016,

“Impaired Driving: Get the Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, 16 June 2017,

Lecklider, Tom. “Autonomous mining equipment years ahead of car development.” Evaluation
Engineering, NP Communications, LLC, 22 Feb. 2017,

Litman, Todd. “Autonomous Vehicle Implementation Predictions.” Victoria Transport Policy
Institute, Victoria Transport Policy Institute, 8 Sept. 2017,
Milford, Michael. “Coming soon to a highway near you: truck platooning.” The Conversation, 19

Nov. 2017,

Miller, John. “Self-Driving Car Technology’s Benefits, Potential Risks, and Solutions.” The Energy
Collective, Energy Post Productions, 20 Aug. 2014,

National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2017, March). Distracted driving 2015. (Traffic
Safety Facts Research Note. Report No. DOT HS 812 381). Washington, DC: National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“Road Crash Statistics.” ASIRT, Association for Safe International Road Travel,
Shubbak, Mahmood H. “Self-Driving Cars: Legal, Social, and Ethical Aspects.” By Mahmood

H. Shubbak: SSRN, 13 Mar. 2017,
Tefft, Brian C. “Prevalence of Motor Vehicle Crashes Involving Drowsy Drivers, United States,
2009 – 2013.” AAA Foundation, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Nov. 2014,

Sweets and Grease: The Plague of Children’s Television Advertising

Sweets and Grease: The Plague of Children’s Television Food Advertising

“Froot Loops are so deliciously fruity, your colorful side will come alive!” shouts Toucan
Sam as he swoops into the patio to DJ for five animated hipster kids, who are hula hooping their
choice of breakfast cereal. “Hey Toucan, give it a spin,” a girl says. “Bring it!” he replies as he
spins the Froot Loops up in the air. “Whoa, just winging it, here, ha. Do whatever makes you
happy! Whatever Froots your Loops! Part of this complete breakfast” (Froot Loops).
The trendy youngsters in this commercial possess stick-thin bodies, which does not
represent how many children today actually appear. Through no fault of their own, many kids’
pudgy rolls of fat would bounce up and down if they were to hula hoop. When they run, they
plod with heavy feet before finally stopping, bent over, to gasp for breath. Researchers today tell
us that childhood overweightness and obesity present a major problem; in fact, 33% of all U.S.
children are overweight, and 17% are considered obese (Berk 198).
Multiple factors contribute to the higher rate of childhood obesity today as opposed to
years past, including parents’ weight, fewer meals eaten at home, more television watching, and
a more sedentary lifestyle (Committee on Food Marketing 2-3). While these are all important
influences, the purpose of this paper is to discuss an often-overlooked and underestimated
element of our children’s television time: food advertising. As it turns out, one of the major
influences behind childhood obesity is not television time per se. Rather, television
advertisements themselves play a major role in the poor eating habits and high obesity rates of
U.S. children. Understanding food advertising’s mechanisms and particular effects can enable
parents and teachers to better identify how to mitigate its damages in children.


The Flood of Advertising
It’s no secret that kids today watch hours upon hours of TV, and these hours upon hours
directly translate into greater amounts of food advertisement exposure. The Henry J. Kaiser
Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness for public health
issues, examined the amounts and types of advertisements kids see while their eyes are glued to
the screen. It found that children ages 2-7 are exposed to about 4,400 food ads per year,
accounting for 30 hours of television advertisements. For children ages 8-12, it only gets worse:
these kids view over 7,600 food ads per year, or 50 hours (3). Obviously, kids are looking at
food, and they’re looking at a lot of it. In fact, according to Stitt and Kunkel, for every hour of
their television time, 4 minutes and 25 seconds is taken by food ads (573). Because they are
viewing a constant stream of food advertisements, kids’ thoughts continually turn towards food,
and their extended one-on-one time with the television gives food advertisers ample time to
instruct them concerning the tastiest and most exciting victuals.
The sheer volume of advertisements children view should not worry us so much as the
foods these advertisements promote. If all food advertisements portrayed carrots and celery
sticks, perhaps our children would possess similar physiques; but in reality, the bulk of food
advertisements promote the benefits of high-calorie foods containing only distant impressions of
nutritional value. In a study published by the peer-reviewed Health Communication journal in
2008, researchers found, through the extensive review of children’s television programs, “that
the large majority of all food products marketed to children (84.0%) are for items that are not
appropriate as part of a regular diet” (see table 1). Sugared cereal alone accounted for 26% of
total food advertisements, and unsurprisingly, less than 4% of the advertisements showed healthy
food products (Stitt and Kunkel 581). Toucan and his Froot Loops are not an anomaly during

children’s television time. Unfortunately, they represent the general rule. Because the mass
barrage of advertisements children view informs them concerning what they should eat, the
prospects do not bode well for kids—who already possess a sweet tooth.
Table 1
Distribution of food product types shown during televised food advertising targeted at children

Source: Stitt, Carmen, and Dale Kunkel. “Food Advertising during Children’s Television
Programming on Broadcast and Cable Channels.” Health Communication, vol. 23, no. 6, Fall
2008, p. 579, doi:10.1080/10410230802465258.
Methods and Mechanisms
Children have an innate preference for sugary, salty, and fatty foods, and television food
advertisements highlight and expand their appetite for these foods. A 2016 study published in the
Journal of Pediatrics found that as a child views a food advertisement, his brain is groomed to be
more accepting of food. In the study, children were exposed to nonfood advertisements, food
advertisements, and blank screens (the control). Following their exposure to one of these


situations, researchers tested their preferences for various foods. Regardless of which
advertisements they had seen, the children based their food preferences almost solely on taste.
However, after children viewed the food commercials, this effect was significantly
exacerbated—so children placed even greater value on taste when making food decisions (Bruce
et al.). Possibly underlying this effect, the researchers also found that food advertisements
increased the activity on a portion of the brain involved in estimating the worth of rewards. This
study shows that advertisements heavily tilt children’s decision-making processes in favor of
tasty foods—but the very foods they should be avoiding. Thus, when children wake up for
breakfast, sit down for dinner, or reach for lunch and snacks in between, they tend to turn to
high-calorie, low-nutrient foods, contributing to chronic energy imbalances and later obesity.
Food advertisements hold great sway over children’s food preferences, while they
influence adults to a lesser degree, and one reason children are more easily influenced by
advertisements stems from their incomplete cognitive development. The Committee on Food
Marketing explains that children do not attain the ability to differentiate between ads and non-ads
while viewing television until they are about 8, and they do not actively do so without being
signaled until they are about 11 (5). This means that children’s psychological barriers are down
while they look at the screen, increasing their susceptibility to the persuasion of advertisements.
Similarly, children are limited in their abilities to process and store information, and because of
this, they may overlook aspects of advertisements, such as nutritional disclaimers, to attend to
more engaging features of advertisements, such as animation or jingles (Wicks et al. 94). Clearly,
food advertisers have an obligation to ensure their commercials are not manipulating children’s
immature thinking abilities.

Alas, food companies have not kept their obligation—they often take advantage of
children’s underdeveloped cognitions through the advertising methods they use. A review of a
few studies shows us that advertisers do not hesitate to employ a wide range of tactics to market
their products on children’s television. One of the most common approaches used, as revealed by
Stitt and Kunkel, is a fun or happiness theme (579), such as showing children going on a treasure
hunt for their favorite cereal and feeling immense excitement and wonder upon discovering it
(577). Advertisers use animation, special effects, jingles, or other techniques in combinations to
foster an emotional connection between children and food and to promote kids’ memory of their
products. Unfortunately, at young ages, children often cannot distinguish between animation or
special effects, and reality. Due to this fact, they may build strong associations, based on
unrealistic expectations, with advertised food products (Wicks et al. 95). The associations
children create with food during youth set a pattern of eating habits that outlast childhood, and
the dangers of basing these habits on advertisements are evident, as revealed in the following
The Drive to Dine
Children’s susceptibility to advertisements can spur a seemingly unconscious urge to eat.
In a study done by researchers at Yale, children aged 7-11 were divided into two groups. Both
watched the same 14-minute television cartoon, but the commercial breaks were filled with
different advertisements: one with food advertisements for low-nutrition foods such as potato
chips or waffle sticks with syrup, the other with advertisements for games and entertainment
products. Each child was given a snack to munch on as they watched the cartoon, and researchers
measured the amount of the snack remaining after the television segment was finished. The study
found that children who viewed the food advertisements ate 45% more of the snack food than did

those who viewed other commercials (Harris et al.). The children viewing food commercials did
not consciously choose to eat more food, but the food advertisements primed them to do so. The
overconsumption of calories during one 14-minute show is small, but it can build over years of
advertisement exposure into a chronic imbalance between energy consumed and energy
This effect is not only observed while children view television; it lasts significantly after
the exposure as well. Two studies conducted by Halford et al. explored this phenomenon by
comparing food consumption in both 5-7- and 9-11-year-old children after they watched a
cartoon containing advertisements. In both age groups, the children who viewed food
advertisements consumed significantly more calories after viewing these ads than did children
who viewed other advertisements. In the study for the 9-11-year-olds, the researchers found that
children’s ability to recognize food advertisements correlated with the amount of food eaten
subsequently (“Effect of Television”). Significantly, the study conducted for the 5-7-year-olds
proved that this overconsumption doesn’t just occur with advertised products. In this study, the
foods presented following the cartoon did not have product packaging (“Beyond-Brand Effect”).
Because the children increased their consumption of all foods—not just the ones they had seen in
the advertisements—this indicates that the priming effect spreads to many foods beyond specific
brands. Through years and years of persuasion from Cinnamon Toast Crunch, McDonald’s, and
others, children are not being told to eat because they’re hungry; they’re supposed to eat because
the food they are shown is deliciously tantalizing. It may be deliciously tantalizing, but it’s
deceptively dangerous.
The research reviewed thus far has examined the short-term effects of food
advertisements on children’s eating behaviors. Not only do advertisements motivate our

youngsters to overeat during and immediately following exposure, but over time they also
negatively impact children’s general food preferences. Difficulties arise when performing
experiments to judge whether food advertisements affect long-term preferences and eating
patterns because it is nearly impossible to control every single commercial children are exposed
to, so research cannot definitively establish causality. However, the correlation of multiple
factors encourages the conclusion that advertisers can powerfully shape children’s day-to-day
eating habits. These factors include measuring children’s requests for specific food products,
their attempts to persuade parents to buy products at the grocery store, and their preferences
towards advertised versus non-advertised food products (Story and French). In an extensive
review of relevant studies, Story and French from the University of Minnesota found an
association between children’s viewing of food advertisements and subsequent partiality towards
the advertised products. Additionally, they reported, television food advertisements strongly
predict children’s fondness for high sugar and high fat foods. Clearly, children who view many
low-nutrient food advertisements tend to prefer low-nutrient foods.
Manipulated by television, children’s food preferences partly result in poor dietary habits
by traveling through the medium of their food requests to their parents, and many studies show
how food advertisements increase children’s appeals for specific products. For example, in one
observational study, researchers found a significant correlation between total weekly screen time
and future requests for foods and drinks (Chamberlain et al.). Advertisers effectively sell their
products in this way—the child sees a food on TV, the child requests it, and the parent gets it.
This prompts the question of how much sway children really hold over the food they can
eat. Admittedly, they can choose whether or not to consume the victuals placed in front of them,
but how much leeway do parents give their children over what goes into the shopping cart in the

first place? A University of Minnesota study answers this question. By observing parent-child
interactions in various grocery stores, the authors discovered that children initiated food
selections 50.4% of the time, and they played some role in nearly 60% of food selections. When
children made specific food requests, their petitions were granted 47.8% of the time
(O’Dougherty et al.). This evidently shows that parents give great power to their children over
the food they buy, and these results have been demonstrated in other studies as well (Ward and
Wackman). Because advertisements predict children’s requests, and because children’s requests
influence parents’ purchases, food advertising towards children is ultimately connected with
parents’ buying behaviors. Thus, although parents themselves may not see much of the television
advertising their children view, these advertisements perform a potent, if indirect, role in
deciding the contents of the refrigerator and pantry. So sugared cereal and other low-nutrient
foods not only dominate children’s thought; they also dominate children’s food supply.
Lifetime Effects
The factors discussed in detail thus far are by no means the only factors influencing a
child’s weight and general health. But in all reality, they play a significant part: the more food
advertisements a child watches, the higher his Body Mass Index (BMI) is likely to be. This was
clearly demonstrated through an analytic article published in the American Journal of Public
Health in 2010. In this observational study, researchers analyzed time-use diaries taken of over
3,000 children aged 0 to 12 years, with one baseline diary taken in 1997 and another diary taken
in 2002. From this data, researchers classified the television content children viewed based on
whether it contained in-program commercials or not. The researchers also obtained access to a
range of other data concerning the sampled children and their families. Because of this, the
researchers not only gained the ability to measure the relationship between content type and

BMI; they were also able to examine the relationship between BMI and many other variables,
including eating in front of the television, amount of sleep the children received, and mother’s
BMI (which can represent genetic factors and dietary or exercise patterns of the household).
Because researchers examined these relationships, they were also able to control for them when
they analyzed the relationship between television content type and BMI. In effect, they
eliminated many confounding variables and increased the likelihood that any statistically
significant results occurred through a causal, rather than simply correlational, mechanism.
The results of this study merit substantial consideration. The researchers, Zimmerman
and Bell, hail the Universities of California and Washington (respectively), and they published
their findings in the earlier-mentioned peer-reviewed journal in 2010. They reported that for
children under 7 years of age during 1997, every additional hour per day of advertisement
exposure predicted an increase of BMI in 2002 of 0.11 standard deviations—a highly significant
association. They also found similar results for children over the age of 7 after controlling for the
children’s baseline BMI in 1997. From this study, we observe a direct relationship between the
amount of time children view food advertisements and their obesity: the more they view, the
more likely they will be overweight or obese. Especially noteworthy is the fact that this effect
was only observed for television containing commercial content; it was not observed with the
increase of educational television content. These results are obviously correlational, but because
the researchers controlled for the possibly confounding variables listed above, a causal
mechanism is, in fact, quite probable. This clearly demonstrates that advertisements play a role
in motivating children to eat beyond that of the action of television-viewing itself.
The study just discussed is by no means the only one to demonstrate a likely causal role
television food advertising plays in predicting obesity. In 2006, the Institute of Medicine, using

funding provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released a landmark
report on the influences of children’s food marketing on health-related outcomes. Their findings,
which represent a comprehensive review of 123 studies, show significant evidence for a
relationship between television advertisement viewing and obesity for children between 2 and 11
years of age. Based on a careful examination of all possible confounding variables and possible
relationships these variables share with obesity, they admittedly find insufficient evidence to
conclusively establish a causal relationship between television advertising exposure and obesity.
However, they note that the strong association remains “after taking alternative explanations into
account” (Committee on Food Marketing 279-293). Performing research that can observe and
measure the effects of television advertising on obesity from start to finish poses great
difficulties, as many intermediate variables (such as those listed in the introduction) can enhance
or inhibit this relationship. Yet the fact that childhood obesity presents such a major problem in
the United States today should urge parents, teachers, and governments to carefully review all its
possible causes—in this case a very likely cause—and take action to oppose them. Twenty years
from now, we will not regret doing too much to oppose the tide of obesity. More likely, we will
regret not doing enough. Because of this, we must begin to fight the effects of television
advertisements in the absence of a proven causal relationship between them and obesity.
All of the factors discussed in this paper, which children’s food advertisements greatly
influence—unhealthy food preferences, greater food consumption, and increased requests for
advertised foods—add upon each other. Like a snowball, the mounds of calories build upon each
other and deposit themselves onto the folds of children’s skin. But the resulting rolls of fat do not
cherubs make, however innocent children may be. They actually place a great burden upon

children’s emotional and physical health, and no child should carry this burden. It is essential for
children to establish healthy weights and eating patterns while they are young, because failure to
do so not only lowers children’s quality of life while they are young, but it also sets children up
for a lifetime of physical and emotional problems which could have been avoided.
“Do whatever makes you happy,” says Toucan Sam. “Whatever Froots your Loops.” But
to ultimately reverse the trend of childhood obesity, we must not do whatever Froots our Loops.
Parents must deeply invest themselves in their child’s health, as the responsibility to mediate
factors that contribute to childhood obesity ultimately rests upon them. Unmarried college
students must prepare now to be invested parents in this regard. And regardless of whether we
have children or not, we hold an obligation, as concerned citizens, to actively pursue
constitutional policy solutions at the local, state, and national levels. By taking these steps, we
will ultimately make our children happy: we will release them from the troubles of obesity to
enjoy a truly light and carefree childhood.


Works Cited

Berk, Laura E. Child Development. Pearson Education, Boston, 2013, p. 198.
Bruce, Amanda S., et al. “The Influence of Televised Food Commercials on Children’s Food
Choices: Evidence from Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex Activations.” The Journal of
Pediatrics, vol. 177, Fall 2016, pp. 27-32. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2016.06.067.
Chamberlain, Lisa J., et al. “Does Children’s Screen Time Predict Requests for Advertised
Products?: Cross-Sectional and Prospective Analyses.” Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent
Medicine, vol. 160, no. 4, Spring 2006, pp. 363-368. The JAMA Network,
Committee on Food Marketing and the Diets of Children and Youth, and J. Michael McGinnis,
et al. Food Marketing to Children and Youth: Threat Or Opportunity? National Academies
Press, 2006, pp. 2-3, 5-6, 279-293.
Froot Loops. “Froot Loopy Dance.” YouTube, 9 Feb. 2017,
Halford, Jason C. G., et al. “Beyond-Brand Effect of Television (TV) Food
Advertisements/Commercials on Caloric Intake and Food Choice of 5-7-Year-Old
Children.” Appetite, vol. 49, no. 1, Summer 2007, pp. 263-267,
—. “Effect of Television Advertisements for Foods on Food Consumption in Children.”
Appetite, vol. 42, no. 2, Spring 2004, pp. 221-225, doi:10.1016/j.appet.2003.11.006.

Harris, Jennifer L., et al. “Priming Effects of Television Food Advertising on Eating Behavior.”
Health Psychology : Official Journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American
Psychological Association, vol. 28, no. 4, Summer 2009, pp. 404-413,

O’Dougherty, Maureen, et al. “Observations of Parent-Child Co-Shoppers in Supermarkets:
Children’s Involvement in Food Selections, Parental Yielding, and Refusal Strategies.”
Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, vol. 38, no. 3, Spring 2006, pp. 183-188,
Stitt, Carmen, and Dale Kunkel. “Food Advertising during Children’s Television Programming
on Broadcast and Cable Channels.” Health Communication, vol. 23, no. 6, Fall 2008, pp.
573, 577, 579, 581, doi:10.1080/10410230802465258.
Story, Mary, and Simone French. “Food Advertising and Marketing Directed at Children and
Adolescents in the US.” The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical
Activity, vol. 1, 2004, pp. 3. PMC,,

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. “Food for Thought: Television Food Advertising to

Children in the United States.” KFF, Mar. 2007, p. 3,

Ward, Scott, and Daniel B. Wackman. “Children’s Purchase Influence Attempts and Parental
Yielding.” Journal of Marketing Research, vol. 9, no. 3, Summer 1972, pp. 316-319.
JSTOR, doi:10.2307/3149545.

Wicks, Jan, et al. “Dual-Modality Disclaimers, Emotional Appeals, and Production Techniques
in Food Advertising Airing during Programs Rated for Children.” Journal of Advertising,
vol. 38, no. 4, 2009, pp. 94-95, Taylor & Francis Online, doi:10.2753/JOA0091-

Zimmerman, Frederick J., and Janice F. Bell. “Associations of Television Content Type and
Obesity in Children.” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 100, no. 2, Spring 2010, pp.
334-340. EBSCOhost, doi:10.2105/AJPH.2008.155119.

On the Regulation of 3-D Printed Firearms

On the Regulation of 3D-Printed Firearms

On May 5th, 2013, a young man named Cody Wilson changed the world forever by
posting a small file online. For the past year, the former law student had been working on what
he called the “Wiki Weapons Project” through the non-profit organization known as Defense
Distributed, which he had founded. In their own words, the group “sought to create a political
and legal vehicle for demonstrating and promoting the subversive potential of publicly-available
3D Printing technologies” (“DD History”). Josh Blackman, of the South Texas College of Law,
explains that the project was ultimately successful in its aims—using nothing more than hard
plastics and additive manufacturing (3D-printing), they created a small handgun, named the
Liberator. It was capable of lethally firing a single bullet, and “later versions were able to fire
six-hundred rounds successfully” (Blackman 510). Soon after the testing, Wilson posted the
Liberator’s digital blueprints to the internet for the public to access. They were downloaded over
100,000 times in the two days they were available before the U.S. State Department requested
their removal (Lee 1400).
Understandably enough, the public and the media exploded with fear. What were the
implications of this new technology? Could anyone owning a 3D-printer produce a lethal,
undetectable firearm at will? The week Defense Distributed posted a YouTube video of the
Liberator and then the Computer-Aided Design (CAD) files for the gun online, Senator Chuck
Schumer frantically called for Congress to criminalize the production of 3D-printed weapons.

Tim Murphy, of Mother Jones, explains that although he was ultimately unsuccessful, Congress
did renew the Undetectable Firearms Act (UFA), which had been set to expire that year.

However, that legislation is rather outdated, and won’t “take many significant steps to stop 3-D-
printed weapons from being printed” (Murphy). This begs the question: what governmental

regulations ought to oversee the manufacture, distribution, and use of this new 3D printing
technology, specifically in regard to the production of firearms?
In this paper, I will first provide a brief explanation of the additive manufacturing process
in general and particularly of how 3D-printed guns can be, and have been, created. We will
discuss some of the unique dangers posed by these unconventional weapons, the possible ways
that federal and state governments could go about regulation, and the constitutional implications
both the first and second amendments have on potential regulations. Finally, I will argue that the
United States can and should mandate post-production gun control regulations, but that there
should be no restraints on the manufacture of 3D-printed firearms prior to their printing.
Essentially, all levels of government should take a cautious and rational approach to this new
industry—not legislating in panic, but instead, focusing on the real empirical implications of this
Additive manufacturing involves complex engineering and computing techniques, but
can be easily utilized without an understanding of the intricate machine workings (just like this
paper can be printed without a full understanding of how a laser printer works). Rather than
squirting ink onto a page, however, 3D-printers use liquid plastic or other substances that harden
upon excretion to shape new products. The structure of these products is determined by computer
code, packaged into CAD files (Blackman 484-5). Users can design, download, and share CAD
files easily. As Julia Cosans writes in the American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy

& the Law, some call this new technology the “dawn of a new industrial revolution” in which
consumers will be able to “instantaneously create new or existing products in real time from the
comfort of [their] own home[s]” (Cosans 917). Indeed, this is already occurring. According to
Barton Lee of the University of North Carolina, hard plastic printers are readily available for
personal use for only a few hundred dollars, and printers similar to that Wilson used to produce
the Liberator cost less than $2,000 (Lee 1396). Anne Lewis, editor for the Tulane Journal of
Technology and Intellectual Property, claims that just as the cost of conventional printing has
decreased dramatically in the years since the invention of the printing press, so should we expect
additive manufacturing technology to improve and become less expensive (Lewis 308). The field
is only just emerging, and while it clearly has great potential to change the way society functions,
we need to cautiously examine exactly what those changes will be.

As we first saw with Defense Distributed, it’s possible to produce firearms through 3D-
printing. These new weapons bring new dangers. James B. Jacobs, of the NYU School of Law,

and Alex Haberman, of the Fordham School of Law, have enumerated several of the key threats
of 3D gunsmithing. The first is that of evading metal detection (Jacobs and Haberman 141).
Being made of plastic could make the firearms valuable for use in terrorist attacks or
assassinations. This is a legitimate concern, but it fails to look at the big picture. For one,
ammunition is still detectable. Writing for Popular Mechanics, Glenn Reynolds claims that
cartridges will still usually be made of metal, even for plastic guns—and thus the fear that these
weapons will be able to sneak onto airplanes is mostly overblown. Additionally, other common
modern security measures, including “backscatter-X-ray” and “millimeter-wave-radar-imagers”
could detect even a purely plastic gun. 3D-printed firearms are much more difficult to obtain

than ordinary weapons, but for those situations in which criminals may find that trouble
worthwhile, sufficient security procedures can still neutralize the threat (Reynolds).
Further dangers posed by these firearms include the evasion of background checking and
of the tracing of the weapon. While the United States already has famously lax gun control laws,
most states do currently require individuals to undergo a mandatory background check (and often
a mental health examination) before purchasing a gun. Jacobs and Haberman explain that
“In truth, the evolution of 3D firearm printing will significantly undermine the
effort to keep firearms out of the hands of unreliable and dangerous individuals.
Firearms-ineligible individuals will be able to make guns themselves or acquire
them from unlicensed gunsmiths using 3D-printing technology. Although guns
are already easily acquired by prohibited persons, the advent of 3D printing will
make it even easier.”
Nevertheless, they go on to write that background checks are rarely a hinderance to those who
plan to use guns illegally—when purchasing from private vendors, no background check is
required; “straw purchases” (wherein an acquaintance with a clean record buys a gun for
someone else) are common (Jacobs and Haberman 142-4). Katie Curtis, of the Rutgers School of
Law, writes that another concern would be the lack of serial numbers and registration for these
homemade weapons. If used to commit a crime, these guns would not only be untraceable, they
could be melted down at will. Like Jacobs and Haberman, however, she ultimately concludes
that until 3D-printed firearms become more economically practical, the desire to avoid a
background check or to have an untraceable weapon will probably not be sufficient reason for
most people to turn to guns created by additive manufacturing (Curtis 79).

The final threat that Jacobs and Haberman identify is the evasion of the machine gun ban.
They point out that automatic weapons have been banned for over half a century in the United
States, and that to introduce the ability for any common citizen to produce these terrible weapons
could be devastating (Jacobs and Haberman 144-5). However, as Gerald Walther of the Institute
for Science Ethics and Innovation at the University of Manchester explains, this is really only a
potentiality that might be realized sometime in the more distant future, but not in the next few
years. Automatic weapons will be much more difficult to design and to physically construct by
additive manufacturing, and at the relatively primitive position at which we can produce
handguns with this technology, it will be a while before we can progress to more dangerous
weapons (Walther 1437-42).
Clearly, 3D-printed firearms present many alarming problems that need to be addressed.
Gun control is already an extremely controversial topic, but even while maintaining the status
quo for traditional weapons, we can see that the government needs to provide some additional
regulation for the emerging world of 3D-printed weaponry. I differentiate the different types of

regulations we could establish as either prior restraint (i.e., before printing) regulations or post-
production regulations. Prior restraint regulations include monitoring and censoring the spread of

certain CAD files online and outright banning attempts to produce homemade, 3D-printed
firearms. Post-production regulations include requiring background checks for those who have
printed guns, mandating the registration of printed guns and the addition of serial numbers, or
requiring permits for anyone carrying 3D-printed firearms. I will discuss some of the relevant
legislation that’s already in place, and the efficacy and constitutionality of additional potential

One of the most obvious and popular restrictions that could be placed on 3D-printed guns
is the censorship of CAD files. Like any blueprint or computer program, these files require
technical expertise to design individually, yet one of the biggest concerns is that any lay citizen
will be able to find and download these dangerous files just by browsing the internet. When the
U.S. State Department’s Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance requested that Wilson
remove the files for the Liberator from the internet, they did so by citing the International Traffic
in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which prohibit not only the transfer of weapons to foreign
nationals, but also the transmission of technical data (Lee 1399). Danton Bryans, of the Indiana
University Maurer School of Law, observed that nowhere in the Department of State’s letter was
it established that posting a blueprint for a small firearm actually constitutes a violation of these
regulations. He writes that “the ITAR-based demand was at least foundationally lacking in this

instance,” and that “the future effectiveness of the ITAR faces clear challenges with the ever-
increasing connectivity and decentralization of the Internet.” Indeed, according to Bryans, it will

be impossible for the government to completely censor anything online (Bryans 911-4), and as
Lee pointed out, the Liberator’s CAD files (and much other “illegal” content) are still available

on sites such as The Pirate Bay (Lee 1400). Even attempts to regulate these files from a patent-
or copyright-based point of view will most certainly fail; many argue that additive manufacturing

in general “will do for physical objects what MP3 files did for music” (Lewis 310). Evidently,
prior restraint regulations are most likely be unfeasible.
However, just because enforcement is difficult doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be
attempted; after all, while we understand the reality of internet traffic, we still criminalize the
piracy of digital music. That’s why it’s significant to note that even beyond their efficacy, it’s
probable that such prior restraints on 3D-printed firearms will also violate first amendment

rights. Blackman explains that under free speech doctrines, “3D CAD files of guns are, in truth,
nothing more than information”—and information is speech. The Supreme Court has long held
that freedom of expression extends to almost any communication medium, whether spoken and
written word, film, video games, or even flag-burning, and it will almost certainly hold that CAD
files are simply another form of communication for which regulations will deserve strict
constitutional scrutiny, i.e., the assumption that regulations are unconstitutional until proven
otherwise (Blackman 498-500). Furthermore, specific court rulings such as Junger v. Daley and
the Bernstein cases specifically identify source code, such as that used for digital security and
encryption, as protectable speech, and this could also apply to additive manufacturing blueprints
(Bryans 922-4). Lee concludes that “CAD files like those of the Liberator have significant
artistic and scientific value beyond computer code such that these files should be treated as
speech” and “deserve First Amendment protection” (Lee 1394, 1410).
Admittedly, it seems almost absurd to claim that the production of a weapon could be
considered speech. Gracie Holden, of the Florida Coastal Law Review, believes that censoring
CAD files “would not deny an individual the freedom to associate with anyone” because they
could still do so through other means, and therefore, that such censorship is completely
permissible (Holden 286). In that regard, she is correct, but simple association is a very narrow
view of the amendment (which include expressive activity, functional activity, the “right to
know”, and other legal intricacies) (Cosans 915-6). Another strong advocate for 3D-printed
firearm regulations, Jean Meyer of the University of Denver, makes a case for a first amendment
exception on the basis that 3D-printed guns will inherently be “crime-inciting” speech (Meyer
569). While this could be valid, Cody Wilson’s case itself—in which a law-abiding citizen
sought only to make a political statement by printing a weapon—is a counterexample, and

governmental review of every single download request would be necessary to uphold the
standard of the “incitement to imminent lawless action” exception to the first amendment
(Bryans 921). For 3D-printed gunsmithing, this standard is “an inexact fit” (Lee 1413). Even
Meyer is eventually unable to demonstrate the legality of prior restraint legislation, only
concluding that “there will be continued and extensive litigation in the matter of whether source
code is constitutionally protected free speech” (Meyer 572). As inconvenient as it may be, it
seems that the creation, possession, and transmission of CAD files, and all pre-production
activities relating to 3D-printed firearms, are necessarily permitted by the first amendment to the

The remaining possibilities for 3D-printed gun control fall under the realm of post-
production regulation, the first type of which is existing regulation such as the UFA. Although

the Undetectable Firearms Act was renewed in 2013, all it does is ban any weapon that does not
contain at least 3.7 ounces of metal—for the explicit purpose of security and metal detection
(Bryans 914). However, this is easily worked around by metal firing pins (something that even
most plastic guns have anyway). Not only do these allow “someone to go undetected by
removing the pin and carrying it separate from the gun,” but even if this or another metal
component of the same size is contained in the gun, it may be overlooked. This kind of event has
already happened: journalists in Israel carried a copy of the Liberator, with a metal firing pin, to
a speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and were not hindered by metal detectors.
Predictably, this incited some panic internationally (Lewis 309).
American laws would certainly not have done anything more to stop that threat,
especially not considering the strength of our Constitution’s second amendment. It seems as
though gun control debates rage across the United States on a monthly basis, with no real

progress made on either side of the political spectrum. Why would 3D-printed weapons be any
different? Many people might argue that it’s the private, in-home production of these weapons
that might spark some compromise in an otherwise dogmatic debate. Surely, if nothing else, we
can prohibit the hidden creation of dangerous, lethal weapons in the backyards of American
However, Blackman convincingly reasons that a “meaningful right to keep and bear arms
would require the preliminary steps of being able to create, and obtain guns.” Citing one of the
few Supreme Court cases pertaining to gun control, D.C. v. Heller, he explains that prerequisite
to keeping and bearing arms is the corresponding right to acquire arms (such as through
commercial sale). Yet what is even more fundamental, he claims, is the right to make arms

yourself. Unbeknownst to many Americans, this practice has always been a “fairly well-
established” tradition (Blackman 490-1, 496-7). There are a considerable number of resources

for those who seek to practice “do-it-yourself gunsmithing”: YouTube videos, books, websites,
and apparently “some gun enthusiasts also offer “group builds” for” those who want to
participate in a clinic. Crude, improvised firearms are more common in other countries, but are
sometimes used here within the United States as well (Jacobs and Haberman 138-9). DIY
firearms are apparently very prevalent, yet they aren’t usually much of a problem. If this is the
case, additive manufacturing doesn’t seem to provide much more of a risk.
Jacobs and Haberman cover this aspect of the issue in detail. They write that “considering
how common gunsmithing has been, and is, the advent of 3D-printed firearms is arguably a
modest technological development rather than a game changer.” In the status quo, those who buy
and sell guns, or manufacture them for that purpose, must apply for a license from the
government, and each weapon must be registered and bear a serial number of some sorts.


However, those that make their own guns have virtually no regulations whatsoever. For 3D-
printed gunsmithing, these homemade, unregulated guns will become much more common, and

pose a greater threat. As is now becoming law in California, states should begin requiring the
registration of homemade guns—or at least 3D-printed guns—with the state, and fit each gun
with a permanent serial number. Mandating background checks for those who have printed guns
and requiring a license to carry would also be a worthwhile step. Unfortunately, “[t]he problem
is compliance and enforcement.” Evading these laws will, for the foreseeable future, be quite
easy for those who plan to commit crimes and don’t mind risking the fines for not obtaining a
license (Jacobs and Haberman 139-140, 145-6). It seems that no regulations—prior restraint or
post-production—are both constitutional and effective.
Although we should do what we can despite these challenges, it’s important to remember
that on balance, additive manufacturing is a vastly more beneficial technology than it is negative.

For the sake of national economic development, “it is crucial that our government does not over-
regulate this new technology” (Curtis 107). We need to carefully weigh the hindering of

scientific innovation and the advancement of industry against the problems of national security
and domestic public safety. Moreover, we should recognize that at present, “3D-printed guns
will not compete successfully with traditionally manufactured guns in terms of reliability,
quality, and cost” (Jacobs and Haberman 147). Almost all criminal threats and acts of terrorism

will utilize conventional firearms rather than overly expensive, mostly untested, hard-plastic 3D-
printed weapons. They may become more of a problem in the future, but it’s not yet time to

Overall, we as a society, and the United States as a government, ought to be very wary of
the dangerous consequences of 3D-printed technology. Regardless of how successful these

measures are in preventing criminals from accessing these weapons, public policy can and
should include mandating background checks, the registration of printed guns, the addition of
metal components with serial numbers to the firearms, and the criminalization of use without a
permit. However, we should refrain from legislating prior restraint regulations. Not only are such
laws almost always unconstitutional, they are also unenforceable. Additionally, placing burdens
on manufacturers and designers, rather than the consumers, could seriously hinder the innovation
and development of additive manufacturing processes as a whole. Through enacting the right
kinds of regulations, people can not only be protected, but also allowed to thrive and progress.
Most importantly, as we navigate the murky waters of this new industry and the dangers it
brings, we need to ensure that reason is at the helm—not fear.


Works Cited

Blackman, Josh. “The 1st Amendment, 2nd Amendment, and 3D Printed Guns,” Tennessee Law
Review vol. 81, no. 3, 2014, p. 479-538.
Bryans, Danton. “Unlocked and Loaded: Government Censorship of 3D-Printed Firearms and a
Proposal for More Reasonable Regulation of 3D-Printed Goods,” Indiana Law Journal
vol. 90, no. 2, 2015, p. 901-934.
Cosans, Julia. “Between Firearm Regulation and Information Censorship: Analyzing First
Amendment Concerns Facing the World’s First 3-D Printed Plastic Gun,” American
University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law vol. 22, no. 4, 2014, p. 915-946.
Curtis, Katie. “A Wiki Weapon Solution: Firearm Regulation for the Management of 3D Printing
in the American Household,” Rutgers Computer and Technology Law Journal vol. 41,
no. 1, 2015, p. 74-107.
“DD History.” Defense Distributed, Defense Distributed, Accessed 28
Nov. 2017.
Holden, Gracie. “How Far Should the Rights to Post 3D-Printed Handguns Extend: Does the

Government Infringe upon Constitutional Rights by Requiring the Removal of 3D-
Printable Handgun Blueprints,” Florida Coastal Law Review vol. 18, 2017, p. 279-300.

Jacobs, James B., and Alex Haberman. “3D-Printed Firearms, Do-It-Yourself Guns, & the
Second Amendment,” Law and Contemporary Problems vol. 80, no. 2, 2017, p. 129-148.
Lee, Barton. “Where Gutenberg Meets Guns: The Liberator, 3D-Printed Weapons, and the First
Amendment,” North Carolina Law Review vol. 92, no. 4, May 2014, p. 1393-1425.
Lewis, Anne. “The Legality of 3D Printing: How Technology Is Moving Faster than the Law,”
Tulane Journal of Technology and Intellectual Property vol. 17, 2014, p. 303-318.

Meyer, Jean-Yves. “The Basin of the Danaides: How 3-D Printing Will Push the Limits of
International Gun Control and Digital Freedom of Speech in the Twenty-First Century,”
Denver Journal of International Law and Policy vol. 41, no. 4, 2013, p. 555-578.
Murphy, Tim. “Chuck Schumer Wants to Stop You from Printing a Gun at Home. Good Luck.”
Mother Jones, Mother Jones and the Foundation for National Progress, 8 May 2013,
gun./#. Accessed 29 Nov. 2017.

Reynolds, Glenn. “Should We Be Afraid of the 3D Printed Gun?” Popular Mechanics, Hearst
Communications, 17 Apr. 2014,
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Walther, Gerald. “Printing Insecurity? The Security Implications of 3D-Printing of Weapons,”
Science and Engineering Ethics vol. 21.6, 2015, 1435–1445.