The US government has ordered online blueprints for the world’s first 3D-printed gun be taken offline. After the blueprints were downloaded over 100,000 times, the US State Department sent a letter to the gun’s designer, Defense Distributed, stating that making the gun’s designs available online is a possible breach of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.
Until they can determine whether violations have occurred, the State Department has also demanded that nine additional 3D-printed gun components be removed from DEFCAD, Defense Distributed’s own website.
Scrubbing them entirely from the Internet may be difficult, as the blueprints have already started showing up on torrent sites like Pirate Bay.
Video of the world’s first 3D-printed gun being fired has been ricocheting around the Internet, but it’s the gun’s digital blueprint that may cause the bigger firestorm.
In a video recently posted to YouTube, Cody Wilson, the controversial face of 3D-printing gunsmith organization Defense Distributed, can be seen pulling the trigger on “The Liberator,” a 16-piece firearm made almost entirely of plastic. To comply with the U.S. Undetectable Firearms Act, a metal firing pin and metal shank were added to the gun.
The .380-caliber pistol uses ordinary ammunition, although the barrel degrades after repeated firings, but it’s easily replaced. As he’s done with a variety of other printable gun parts, Wilson, a staunch proponent of equal access to arms, posted the gun’s blueprints on DEFCAD, a branch of Defense Distributed’s website.
Wilson, an impressively well-read law student at the University of Texas in Austin, has long maintained that his real goal is to challenge constitutional rights, not necessarily build a perfect gun. While opponents of Wilson’s actions say he’s just making it easier for criminals and terrorists to access guns and circumvent gun laws, it’s not only legal for him to make “The Liberator,” but so to is freely distributing its blueprints.
However, earlier last month, Democratic Representative Steve Israel of New York proposed a bill called the Undetectable Firearms Modernization Act that would amend the 1988 law by banning 3D-printed guns that “have no metal and could therefore slip through a metal detector.”
“When I started talking about the issue of plastic firearms months ago, I was told the idea of a plastic gun is science fiction,” Israel said in a statement. “Now that this technology appears to be upon us, we need to act now to extend the ban on plastic firearms.”
But Wilson’s ambitions don’t end at 3D-printable guns. According to the Guardian, he wants to turn DEFCAD into “the world’s first unblockable open-source search engine for all 3D printable parts,” an torrent file archive of not just printable firearms and their parts, but blueprints for everything from birth-control devices to drugs and prosthetic limbs.
Wilson counts himself in the same company WikiLeaks architect Julian Assange and Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom.
“I number myself among them, at least in spirit,” he told the Guardian. “I think the future is openness to the point of the eradication of government. The state shouldn’t have a monopoly on violence; governments should live in fear of their citizenry.”