State Department Orders Removal of 3-D Gun Designs
The State Department has ordered Defense Distributed to remove the blueprints for their plastic gun from the Internet after it has been downloaded over 100,000 times.
Defense Distributed has said that the State Department informed them that the online publication of the blueprints may breach arms-control regulations. Defense Distributed denies this, saying the blueprints for the plastic firearm were designed in such a way as to avoid this issue.
It remains unclear how effective the removal order will be. Although the files have been removed from the company's Defcad site, they can still be found on the Mega online service, where they are being hosted.
Copies of the blueprints already exist in places outside the control of Defense Distributed. The file-sharing site the Pirate Bay has made them widely available, ad has publicized its links to the files via social news site Reddit. Reddit users have also made copies of the blueprints, indicating many more people will get hold of the blueprints.
Small, white and made from plastic, the firearm looks like a toy. But it fires very real bullets, and has caused very real controversy. Cody Wilson, the founder of Defense Distributed, describes himself as a crypto-anarchist. He has stated before that his belief is that everyone 'has a right to a gun.'
Despite this, Mr. Wilson has reportedly said that his group "...has to comply," with the State Department's request, thought he founder of Defense Distributed believes the government's fears to be ungrounded.
The Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance is concerned Mr. Wilson might be unintentionally breaking the laws governing shipping weapons overseas by putting the files online and letting people outside the US download them. Despite their disagreeing opinions, Mr. Wilson has welcomed the US government's intervention, saying it would highlight whether it was possible to stop the spread of 3D-printed weapons.
Unlike conventional weapons, the printed gun - called the Liberator by its creators - is made out of plastic on a printer. Many engineering firms and manufacturers use these machines to test prototypes before starting large-scale production.