Looks like The Liberator, the world’s first 3D-printed gun, is having some problems liberating itself from the U.S. government.
The U.S. Department of Defense Trade Controls seized control of the gun's downloadable printing instructions today and has banned the public from accessing them.
The gun’s creator, Defense Distributed, released a statement on the government’s actions today.
“[Defense Distributed's] files are being removed from public access at the request of the U.S. Department of Defense Trade Controls," the company’s website said. "Until further notice, the United States government claims control of the information.”
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If the government hopes to stop people from printing out the gun (how sci-fi does that sound? Printing out a gun...) their actions might be a case of too little too late. After being released earlier, over 100,000 copies of the gun’s instructions were downloaded.
Defense Distributed’s founder Cody Wilson recently spoke in an interview about the government’s attempt to stop the gun’s spread.
"If this is an attempt to control the info from getting out there, it's clearly a weak one," he said. Wilson added that the gun has been downloaded virally from torrent sites in addition to the 100,000 downloads from Defense Distributed’s official site.
The 16-part handgun is designed to fire standard rounds of ammunition. The blueprints for the gun feature an interchangeable barrel that will allow the gun to fire different caliber bullets. The gun is not entirely made of plastic. A non-functional plate and the firing pin are both made of metal, making the gun legal under U.S. law.
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But although the Liberator features medal components, legislators fear that other 3D-printed guns could be completely plastic. Plastic guns could safely pass through metal detectors and screeners that have long been in place to prevent people from bringing guns into popular venues and events.
Fear of 3D-printed guns has led legislators to begin drafting laws outlawing the guns before they become commonplace in society. Lawmakers in Washington DC, California, and New York have already started working on these measures.
However, the problem of regulating 3D-printed guns is the exact point Wilson is trying to make through his Defense Distributed project. Wilson, a law student at the University of Texas, created the gun in an effort to demonstrate how technology has the power to make legislation all but irrelevant.