The revolutionary concept of 3-D printed firearms has been building momentum for months now. Online observers, innovators, investors and the generally curious celebrated as the first completely 3-D printed handgun became a reality. Since the blueprint for “The Liberator” hit the web, the file was downloaded more than 100,000 times in a few days.
Today, the government shut it down.
Cody Wilson, the 3-D gunsmith, libertarian law student, and founder of the non-profit innovation outlet, Defense Distributed, broke the bad news in a tweet to his followers.
According to an earlier interview, Wilson received a letter from the US Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance, Enforcement Division (DTCC/END) which demanded the group remove the content in question from public domain.
The complaint reads that the “DTCC/END” will review the data Defense Distributed has released to ensure compliance with “Category I of the USML” (United States Munitions List). Apparently, releasing the files possibly violated the ITAR, or International Traffic in Arms Regulations.
Though Wilson is not legally restricted from privately manufacturing firearms, apparently sharing emerging technology without a license or written approval from the government is unlawful. “Commodity Jurisdiction” determination requests were solicited for ten of Defense Distributed’s file types, including “The Liberator.”
The website files are down and the site’s banner states, “DefDist Liberator Pistol: This file has been removed from public access at the request of the US Department of Defense Trade Controls. Until further notice, the United States government claims control of the information.”
“The Liberator,” is a 16-piece plastic firearm crafted by 3-D printers. A metal firing pin and embedded shank bring the weapon in compliance with the 30-year old Undetectable Firearms Act. Most downloaders do not have the software or equipment to produce a working gun with the files, but curious minds inquire. The download rate is likely to further explode, and is available all over the Internet. Facebook pages are intent on sharing this technology until Defense Distributed returns.
But this move by federal authorities did not come as a surprise for firearm advocates.
Prior to Wilson’s receiving this letter, persistent gun control proponents Rep. Steve Israel, (D-NY) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) supported the Undetectable Firearms Modernization Act which would attempt to ban all plastic 3-D printed guns and high-capacity magazines.
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