Feds press group to pull 3-D printed gun designs

Defense Distributed has removed the blueprints after receiving a warning letter from the State Department.

By Kim Peterson May 10, 2013 2:21PM
Caption: cutaway view of a .22 single shot plastic firearm
Credit: Via caboose: http://defcad.org/The idea of people printing their own guns at home is not sitting well with the U.S. government.

A Texas nonprofit group that developed the gun has taken down its blueprints from the Internet after receiving a letter from the State Department. Defense Distributed has received plenty of attention for developing a design that lets people print their own guns using a 3-D printer. The guns are made of plastic and need only a small metal firing pin to work.

"I immediately complied, and I've taken down the files," Cody Wilson, the founder of Defense Distributed, told Betabeat. "But this is a much bigger deal than guns. It has implications for the freedom of the Web."

It may be a little late. The instructions for how to make a 3-D printable handgun called The Liberator have been downloaded more than 100,000 times and can be found on other websites, according to The New York Daily News. You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube, as the saying goes.

The website that previously hosted the files, Defcad.org, has posted a banner notice saying that "files are being removed from public access at the request of the U.S. Department of Defense Trade Controls. Until further notice, the United States government claims control of the information."

It's a bit tougher to make this gun than you might think. Gizmodo reports that you need a decent printer, something like the $8,000 Stratasys machine that Defense Distributed used at one point. You also need a metal firing pin. And you need a 6-ounce piece of steel in the body to keep the gun legal under the Undetectable Firearms Act.

In other words, Smith & Wesson (SWHC) and Sturm Ruger (RGR) aren't exactly sweating this one.

The gun in the photo, by the way, is not The Liberator but a different 3-D printed gun from Defense Distributed.

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May 10, 2013 3:47PM
The government does want you to have the accessibility to a weapon you don't have to register. They want all the guns, not the public. I am more afraid of our government than I am of terrorists.
May 10, 2013 2:53PM

OK Now what about the ceramic knives that are shooting up in sales!!!


May 10, 2013 4:19PM
Can you also print undetectable bullets?
May 10, 2013 3:11PM

well SGLDAD58... how 'bout a super light weight gun for hunting, and it's not undetectable... as long as you use the required 6oz of metal as required by LAW! Anyone else is just a criminal. And since you all about just throwing this guy in jail... for no good reason.... doesn't that make you some sort of terrorist. Sounds good to me.

May 10, 2013 5:34PM

I doubt the State Dept. sent a warning letter; it was probably "Take the files down, or else!!!!!!!!!!!!

That's the way da gobberment does things.

May 10, 2013 5:25PM
So it begins. A very small infringement on the first amendment. All the libs out there laugh at the slippery slope argument the NRA uses concerning the second amendment but lets see what's next on free speech when it comes to the world wide web!
May 10, 2013 5:19PM
Why take it down? It is his invention and he should be proud. He never states that it can be used for hunting, defense,or mass acts of cruelty. It is simply a different way to create something and requires special equipment to make properly, besides it could only be fired once then you would need to build another one, it is plastic. And if the government is so worried about this then why are there blue prints to create bombs, knives, arrows, spoons, shovels, chainsaws, drugs etc...., I swear we concern ourselves with some of the dumbest sh!t
May 10, 2013 3:52PM
I guess a 3-D bow is alright as long as I use aluminum shafts in the arrows.
May 10, 2013 5:31PM
The inventors are making a point here, being that it is ridiculous to try to legislate something out of existence. Once something is possible, it's going to be manufactured and sold for profit. If it is something crooks can use to their advantage, they will buy it, and steal money if they have to in order to afford it. They made machine guns illegal when the crooks were using them against cops who only had 6-shot revolvers back in the '30's. Did the crooks say " Oh dear we can't use machine guns anymore because they're illegal'? Not hardly. They aren't going to put a 6oz piece of metal in these plastic guns either, just to make them legal.
This obsoletes the metal detectors at the airport. Guess they'll have to strip search every passenger now.

May 10, 2013 6:06PM
This is a stupid premise. A cnc mill is much les expensive than the required 3d printer, and a weapons receiver can be milled from a variety of non metallic compounds on an entry level cnc mill. I know I have done it, and the CAD files are still available online. I just checked. 
May 10, 2013 3:51PM
So much for the first amendment.  I wonder what else the government will find harmful.  I read about this in a book called 1984.  The funniest thing in this article "you need a 6-ounce piece of steel in the body to keep the gun LEGAL".  "So I can print a gun?  Hold on, let me pull the regulations and see if I am in compliance."
May 10, 2013 6:02PM
Too late, already got it, just can't afford the printer !
May 10, 2013 5:47PM
With blueprints for all manner of explosive devices and WMD available on the internet (look at Madrid, London and now Boston), is trying to restrict access to a concept document for a 5 round, single shot handgun really making an impact?  As stated, it has already been downloaded 100,000 times and once on the net, always on the net.  With the file removed, the website should be able to remain active and continue other business or is it a non declared fine against the owners?  Kind of a short sighted, knee jerk reaction but hey, certain the State Dept are patting themselves on the back.
May 10, 2013 5:21PM

Anything in the name of public safety yea!

Bet more people are Killed by a car in the USA than by a gun, when will we wise up and get rid of them, buses are not so bad.

May 10, 2013 6:48PM
Someone will come up with a good design just a matter of time.  I support them all the way.
May 10, 2013 7:19PM

There is a really interesting documentary put up on youtube by VICE. I really recommend anyone who is interested in this to watch it. . Its only about 25 minutes long.

May 10, 2013 6:56PM

I keep a spork handy at all times.


May 10, 2013 7:21PM
So,its already out there,too late!!!
May 22, 2013 3:37PM
Until you assemble it, it is not a gun.  It's just a bunch of parts.  This won't also stop someone overseas from hosting the file.  The big huff on this is that we just had DHS spend bazillions on getting all these detectors into airports and now there's an easy way to get by them James Bond style. 
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