Mere days after Defense Distributed released the design documents for the world’s first (nearly) completely 3D-printable firearm, the files have begun being removed from the group’s main site at the request of federal authorities.
Currently a banner at the top of defcad.org, which hosts the files for the group’s printable firearm designs, informs visitors that files are being removed “at the request of the US Department of Defense Trade Controls.” Some parts of the website are presently locked from public access and the website is intermittently unavailable at the time of this writing.
“Until further notice, the United States government claims control of the information,” the message reads.
Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson told Betabeat.com that he has decided to comply with the department’s request to remove the files while the group considers legal options.
“We got an official letter from the Secretary of State, telling me who they were, what their authority was under U.S. law and telling me they want to review these files to see if they’re class one munitions,” Wilson said. “That includes blueprints.”
Wilson released the blueprints for a printable pistol dubbed the “Liberator” earlier this week, and already reporting over 100,000 downloads of the files. The single-shot .380 pistol is comprised of 16 ABS plastic parts and a metal nail for a firing pin. The plastic components can all be reproduced through the use of a capable 3D printer, a significant breakthrough for the technology. Wilson successfully test-fired the pistol before the plans were released.
Some lawmakers responded critically to the firearm, believing that a gun that can be manufactured almost entirely at home will circumvent a number of current laws. New York Congressman Steve Israel (D-NY) released a statement following the pistol’s introduction, expressing his concerns and calling for stricter laws against plastic guns. Recently a new bill, H.R. 1474, was introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee that would ban plastic firearms and magazines. The bill would extend the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 and throw a sizable wrench in Defense Distributed’s plans by specifically mentioning and limiting 3D printed firearms.
Representative Israel, who sponsored the bill, said it would ban the manufacture, use, transport, purchase, and sale of any firearm that is not detectable by x-rays or metal detectors.
“When I started talking about the issue of plastic firearms months ago, I was told the idea of a plastic gun is science-fiction,” Isreal said. “ Now that this technology appears to be upon us, we need to act now to extend the ban on plastic firearms.”
Wilson remains unfazed.
“I still think we win in the end,” he told Betabeat. “Because the files are all over the Internet, the Pirate Bay has it–to think this can be stopped in any meaningful way is to misunderstand what the future of distributive technologies is about.”
Wilson is a staunch Second Amendments advocate and a second-year law student. He founded Defense Distributed as a non-profit organization to catalog and distribute designs for 3D printable firearm parts, which Wilson believes is the next step in supporting the right to bear arms and promoting free speech.
“This is a much bigger deal than guns,” Wilson said. “It has implications for the freedom of the web.”
You can see Wilson test-fire the Liberator below.
You can learn more about Defense Distributed’s plans here.
Additional information on H.R. 1474 can be found here.