Feds Ban 3D Printed Gun Blueprints, But Post Gun Blueprints Online Themselves

| by Dabney Bailey
article imagearticle image

The US government forced Defense Distributed to take down the blueprints for its 3D printed gun. Normally, firearms fall under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, but this time the State Department jumped into the debate. The agency invoked the International Traffic in Arms Regulation. The ITAR makes it illegal to export weapons and technical data for weapons without the State Department’s approval.

The Defense Distributed website read, “Until further notice, the United States government claims control of the information.”

Ironically, the US government already posts digital blueprints for guns online. The US Patent and Trademark Office, which falls under the Department of Commerce, has made patents accessible online free of charge since 2010. These patents often include step-by-step instructions of how to create the firearm.

“You can get a wide variety of detailed plans for building weapons,” said Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He added, “The first machine gun patent is online. If you want things that are relatively low-tech, you can go back a hundred years and get the patents for the first semi-automatic handgun.” 

The website also allows users to search through international patents.

Of course, the State Department does not expressly condemn sharing weapon information across state borders. The organization’s official stance is that groups can distribute information as long as it has the State Department’s stamp of approval. Naturally, the US Patent and Trademark Office has the approval of the State Department. There are also many private manufacturing companies that sell weapons overseas with the State Department’s permission.

The problem with Defense Distributed wasn’t that they designed a gun that anybody could create – it’s that they posted the information online without getting the State Department’s thumbs-up. This could lead to delicate diplomatic issues as citizens in foreign countries download illegal blueprints and disrupt the government. In fact, Spain and Brazil are closing in on the US in the number of digital downloads for the 3D gun.

Theoretically, this could mean that Defense Distributed might be able to put up the download information again if they go through the proper channels and get government approval. 

Source: Daily Caller