US government blocks downloads
of 3D-printed gun

| 26 comments

US govt blocks 3D-printed gun downloads

News: blueprints for the world's first 3D-printed gun have been taken offline at the request of the US government.

Defense Distributed, the Texas-based group that developed the weapon, stated on Twitter that its project to make a downloadable and printable gun had "gone dark".

The State Department's order to remove the files comes just a few days after the successful test firing of the pistol, called the Liberator.

The group's file-sharing website Defcad is now headed with a red banner that reads: "Defcad files are being 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."

Cody Wilson, the 25-year-old law student who leads Defense Distributed, said he complied with the State Department's request immediately.

"But this is a much bigger deal than guns. It has implications for the freedom of the web," he told technology website Betabeat.

According to Defense Distributed, blueprints for the gun were downloaded over 100,000 times in the two days after they were uploaded to Defcad.

However, the decision to remove the files represents a U-turn on the group's earlier promise, made in a video announcing the launch of Defcad in March, that there would be "no takedowns, ever".

The group has been working towards creating a 3D-printed gun for almost a year after raising $20,000 of funding for the "Wiki Weapon" open source project.

Defcad was launched this March as "the world's first unblockable, open-source search engine for all 3D-printable parts", such as components for rifles, pistols and grenades.

Dezeen investigated how 3D printing is changing weaponry and warfare in Print Shift, our one-off publication about 3D printing – see all news about 3D printing.

  • http://www.ddai.dk Soren Romer

    Normally I’m very much against internet control, but in this case I support it unconditionally. I find it absolutely tragic that people will use the fascinating medium that is 3D-printing to construct gadgets of destruction. It’s stuff like that that leaves me questioning humanity.

    • paper_mesa

      Do you also hold the same reservations about milling machines, hacksaws and files? It is much cheaper and more reliable to make a gun in a workshop. It is more reliable again and likely easier to just buy one. Limiting the use of a platform because you don’t like it or because it scares you is not acceptable, nor is it reasonable.

      I applaud Cody Wilson’s initiative. Though I don’t find any interest in guns, I do find the questions this raises of great interest and importance far beyond gun control. As expected, politicians were practically falling over themselves to introduce legislation to ban 3D printed guns. I’d like to ask them, how precisely? The factory is on your desk, the design is currently hosted on several thousand individual computers, many of whom are sharing the files via torrents.

      This is out of the US government’s hands. They can’t stop it. Their response to Mr Wilson’s provocation should not be to instantly ban the unbannable. A considered approach focusing on responsibility, safety and education is the only realistic one. We are not children, we’re not all going to suddenly start printing guns and murdering each other. Hysterics only cloud the issue.

  • http://www.leslieroeder.com leslie

    Is Dezeen taking its cues from the New York Post? Or FOX News?

    How many times do you have put the word gun in your headlines? I thought this was a design magazine, or are you under pressure from your advertisers to increase your clicks? It is really tasteless.

  • Mario

    Because it’s direct competition for America’s weapon manufacturers? I thought every American, rich or poor, had the right to defend himself against the horrors of the outside world by shooting a neighbour in the face who accidentally crosses your own private front yard. This would have been a solution! And yeah, I’m cynical!

  • Ted

    Of course the US government doesn’t want you to print your own guns. They want you to buy theirs!

  • Hede

    Somehow, I can’t help thinking that this was all a part of Defense Distributed’s plan.

    The Liberator doesn’t have to shoot anybody to be liberating. Perhaps this whole story is made to attract attention to internet control and to make people aware of the consequences of modern file-sharing.

  • the man

    Any censorship is inherently anti-American. Crazies exist whether they can print a gun or not, and if one of them wishes harm on another human there is not much a national government can do to stop them.

    It is the double-edged sword of human ingenuity; if there is a will there is a way, that includes getting to the moon as well as kidnapping school girls to use as sex slaves for ten years. But a government that is allowed to regulate the information its people have access to is a bad government. I have never come across a problem where the answer lay in having less information.

    All that being said, I do believe that anyone who prints one of these guns will automatically fall into my ‘you are an idiot’ list.

    • Chris

      It’s ‘anti-American’ to impede the proliferation of deadly weapons? Then thank ‘god’ I’m not American.

    • Daniel

      There are a lot of states where you are legally able to produce guns for yourself. I would much rather download and legally print a gun that has been researched and tested by experts. That would be a good use of information. An idiot would carelessly try and figure things out on their own.

      There’s also a huge negative gun vibe here. People need to remember that people can go and buy guns just about everywhere in the US and it isn’t difficult to do at all. The vast majority of these people use their guns for hunting or target shooting. I go target shooting about once every two months. What difference does it make if you print the gun at home? It doesn’t grant some increased level of access to anyone intending to do harm. There are already plenty of legal and illegal channels for those people.

      The only thing it does do is criminalise the printing of a gun, which criminals won’t care about, and will keep hobbyists and other law abiding people from printing. Result: criminals with guns, everyone else without. Same as always.

  • Malenky

    “downloaded over 100,000 times in the two days.”

    If 10% of the people who downloaded the file re-post it somewhere else, the Department of Defense will have their work cut out for them trying to censor everything. And if they do suddenly pull 10,000 sites or more, there will be a backlash saying that the military is trying to control the web, just like North Korea.

    Why does the DoD care anyway, no criminal is going to spend +$3,000 on a 3D printer to make a plastic gun that can fire one .22. They should block high caliber auto weapons, but this is a single fire .22.

    • Andrew

      Think about your question again. Why would a criminal spend that much on a plastic gun that you can bring on a plane, past metal detectors? Hmm, perhaps so that you could hijack a plane and kill more people than a single .22 bullet could ever do!? Or perhaps so that he can bring a plastic gun into a courtroom and kill a judge. What do you suggest as a solution for this, now that the world can download the plans for PLASTIC guns? We don’t have plastic gun detectors yet.

      • Clint

        Cartridges that contain the powder and projectile are made of metal and are the most important component to a firearm. Even if you got your plastic printed single shot pistol through security how are you going to get your ammunition past the metal detectors?

  • Desk

    A knife is a deadly weapon. The govt should pry my blades off my dead cold hands.

    You guys don’t get it. It’s not exactly a design topic. The US govt. now believes that the only psychopaths and murderers who should carry weapons are themselves. What does that tell you about history and Hitler? The first thing he went for were the guns that normal people owned. The Swiss weren’t conquered during WW2 because they had their own people as their own standing militia who carried weapons for protection.

    • paper_mesa

      The Swiss also rigged whole mountains with explosives in the event of an invasion, so maybe it wasn’t all down to non 3D printed guns.

      Also, Godwin.

    • Andrew

      This is not about the government curtailing the ability to manufacture your own weapons. People have been doing that for generations. This is about curtailing the ability to manufacture your own PLASTIC weapons that are undetectable by metal detectors, which, by the way, have been illegal since Ronald Reagan signed the law in the ’80s. No one is coming after your damn guns, you freaks!

      • Emmanue

        Last I heard bullets were still made of metal.

  • http://www.edmnetwork.com/ Ron – Chmer EDM

    I agree in that this doesn’t change much. Sure it allows people we don’t want owning weapons to get them but we already fail to stop them from doing that in the first place.

    This isn’t any different. They’d still need a printer to do it and they aren’t exactly cheap. I don’t agree with it but people will always find a way.

  • beatrice

    Cool. So does this mean we can print guns in the UK now? Excellent. I was really hoping this would happen.

  • Nope

    News: It’s not off the internet.
    http://thepiratebay.sx/torrent/8469064/Liberator_

    P.S. People against the gun can just corrupt the files being shared and impose themselves as the “liberator”.

  • http://ritual.tv Andrew Hoeveler

    I’m blown away that ALL of you are missing the issue here. This is a plastic gun. That means it can’t be detected by metal detectors. That means that as of today, there isn’t a single plane, courtroom, government building, or school that is safe from the horrors of a lunatic with a PLASTIC gun. Yes, of course this is an example of technology surpassing our ability to legislate our own safety, but doesn’t anyone put the freedom to live safely above the freedom to wield a deadly weapon anywhere they damn well please?!

    Sorry, but you gun nuts are CRAZY.

  • Me

    Cody Wilson = reckless idiot.

  • Daniel Demmel

    The Liberator is NOT a plastic gun: “The Liberator has two metal parts, a firing pin made of a hardware store nail and a six-ounce chunk of steel inserted into the gun to make detectable to metal detectors and compliant with the law.”

    Source: http://www.policymic.com/articles/40033/meet-the-

  • Ingenuious

    Back in the ’50s, when I was in high school, we made one shot .22s out of a piece of car radio antenna, a nail, a rubber band and a bit of wood whittling. Now there are no radio antennas but any kid who has access to his high school shop class can do a better job and do it with common plastic material. No thinking person can believe that we can control guns. We would do better to focus on finding and treating the crazies who want to kill sombody or the religious nuts who want to kill lots of people.

  • http://paintpot55.wordpress.com/ Blinky Comix

    If they have been taken down but someone else has scarfed a copy of them, does that mean they can confiscate the weapon due to copyright infringement?

  • http://www.aaarchitects.co.uk/ Christine

    I’m sorry, but they could have done it with something else rather than an object of destruction and sorrow.

  • Neo Fascist?

    Anyone can kill you with a sharp piece of metal. Should we ban sharp objects? No laws can stop someone from choosing to kill you. The significance of this article is not about how we can now build plastic guns instead of making them out of wood and glue, but how easily your fascist government can censor information from the internet.

    3D printing is not a crime, open-source hardware and file-sharing is our right, the internet is our voice and to suppress or censor it in any way is to violate our freedom of speech.

    Want to stop crime? Stop contributing to a society of competition and class warfare. Want to encourage peace? Stop punishing people for crimes they haven’t committed.