Feds demand removal of 3-D printable gun plans from the Internet

posted at 10:11 pm on May 9, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

It was the State Department. The alleged offense, a possible export law violation:

On Thursday, Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson received a letter from the State Department Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance demanding that he take down the online blueprints for the 3D-printable “Liberator” handgun that his group released Monday, along with nine other 3D-printable firearms components hosted on the group’s website Defcad.org. The government says it wants to review the files for compliance with arms export control laws known as the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, or ITAR. By uploading the weapons files to the Internet and allowing them to be downloaded abroad, the letter implies Wilson’s high-tech gun group may have violated those export controls.

“Until the Department provides Defense Distributed with final [commodity jurisdiction] determinations, Defense Distributed should treat the above technical data as ITAR-controlled,” reads the letter, referring to a list of ten CAD files hosted on Defcad that include the 3D-printable gun, silencers, sights and other pieces. “This means that all data should be removed from public acces immediately. Defense Distributed should review the remainder of the data made public on its website to determine whether any other data may be similarly controlled and proceed according to ITAR requirements.”

Wilson will remove the files, he said, until State has performed its reviews, though somehow I doubt State will be quick or straightforward about the determination process, lest it allow Wilson to put the plans back up. But this is the Internet, man. The plans for the “Liberator” handgun were downloaded 100,000 times in two days.

Laying aside how anyone feels about the printable gun in particular, it is a particularly illustrative example of how fast technology can outstrip regulation, leaving bureaucrats in the dust as free people invent things regulators had never even contemplated. As technology gets better faster, it’s a train running far ahead of regulators’ ability to lay down track. To some, this is petrifying. To others, exciting. The reality of a 3-D printable gun has led to a bunch of predictable pants-wetting over what to do about it. But what’s more interesting, and relevant to anyone who’s keen on the huge societal development that is home manufacturing, are the ways liberals are already dreaming up to thwart the 3-D gun.

The battle over these plans touches on the Second Amendment, of course, but the distribution of 3-D printing plans is a First Amendment issue, which will make regulators sad about their impotence. Reason magazine lays out some of the statist fantasies already being indulged as possible remedy. They turn, ironically, to the hope the gun industry will back legislation to crush 3-D guns as record companies did to crush file sharing. Or, failing that, maybe censorship and burdensome regulation of in-home printers?

Manjoo then appeals to the “3-D gun movement’s fundamental error—their belief that information can’t be controlled.” That’s right, he sees salvation through the power of censorship:

[I]f the authorities set their mind to it, they can bankrupt you for sharing songs online. Countries where guns are already strictly curbed could impose similarly harsh measures against the distribution of plans for 3-D guns—and if they enforce them strictly, they might well limit their availability.

Frankly, I have a hard time believing that U.S. courts that found the sharing of source code for once strictly regulated encryption software to be protected by the First Amendment won’t see similar free speech concerns in the sharing of firearms designs on the Internet. And the Internet is a world-wide network; you need only one jurisdiction friendly to free speech to defeat censorship efforts elsewhere. Internet censorhip has never been successful, and it seems a faint hope for controlling the distribution of 3D printer designs.

Manjoo then suggests curbs on 3D printers:

[I]t’s conceivable that lawmakers would impose severe restrictions on the 3-D printer industry, which, of course, isn’t protected by the Second Amendment. Lawmakers could require 3-D printer manufacturers to prevent their machines from printing certain files—in the same way your DVD player can’t play movies from a different region—and impose harsh penalties for circumventing those rules. They could even make you register your printer the way you’ve got to register your car.

Is there anybody left who doesn’t know how easy it is to bypass those region restrictions on a DVD player or computer? Even if some variant of “region restriction” software were built into 3D printers — say, the sort comparable to the type that’s supposed to prevent photocopiers and printers from knocking off currency — it would have an even tougher job of recognizing ever-morphing 3D designs than printers do of recognizing relatively static images of $20 bills. And that restrictive software has been so (un)successful that 60 percent of counterfeit bills recovered in recent years were created on ink-jet printers.

Eh, good luck with that. The “Liberator” is already out there, as will be plans for any number of things your neighborhood busy-body or federal bureaucrat might find objectionable. Defense Distributed says “take it up with the State Department.” But taking it up with a search engine is probably easier. I’m reminded, despite the intense irony of invoking a monarchical phrase, of the sentiment: “The printable gun is dead. Long live the printable gun.”

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Comment pages: 1 2

I think you are missing the true point of this demand. The government realizes that the cat is out of the bag what this is setting up is for them to conclude that he has violated ITAR so that they can either prosecute or fine Defense Distributed. I expect the state department to go through the designs with a fine tooth comb and find something that they can charge this guy with.

jwhammer on May 10, 2013 at 8:15 AM

Larger DefCad mega pack: https://mega.co.nz/#!hwcQEAaD!EjyazDCvPYSPMJB7qKh3eRaLr0o0lO4CkZ48hpxRW0I

mythicknight on May 9, 2013 at 10:46 PM

Not anymore…..

roy_batty on May 10, 2013 at 8:35 AM

Someone needs to get this info up on the Wiki page for the Streisand effect. Would be the latest under “Examples”.

GWB on May 10, 2013 at 8:52 AM

I’m an engineer that use to work in the robotics field. I can’t imagine the development of software that could analyse what exactly is being printed on the machine. The only possible way I can think of to prevent something from being printed would be to have the design analysed by some independent fed agency that can then activate the printer for you for that file only. Even then it would be hard to do. Of course if you can print a gun you can also put a block of plastic into a milling machine and mill one. The making of a plastic gun is not hard to do. The real issue here is the complete misconception of what 3D printing is about and how it is done. This is a new technology, kind of, that has moron liberals, redundant I know, crapping their draws. Just the fact it was a gun being printed is the issue here because we all know that just seeing a picture of a gun or hearing the word is enough to instantly kill someone. Maybe even hundreds with a single viewing.

I still say the whole pencil, finger, pop-tart as a gun or the arrest of people with toy guns or picture on tee-shirts is nothing more that a massive effort to make people fear guns and anything gun related. Eventually the left will have people so afraid of gun imagery that they will cower for fear of their lives when seeing an armed “authority” figure.

Dr. Frank Enstine on May 10, 2013 at 8:53 AM

mythicknight on May 9, 2013 at 10:43 PM

Thanks…

Of course, one doesn’t need the blueprints if one has a good picture of the components. Quite a clever design actually.

http://www.guns.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/wiki_weapon_defense_distributed_liberator_pistol.jpg

Keith_Indy on May 10, 2013 at 8:55 AM

Quite a clever design actually.
Keith_Indy on May 10, 2013 at 8:55 AM

Yes it is. I wonder how good those coil springs are. I would have tried a leaf spring design but, for all I know he did at one point.

Now that that picture is out there is nothing to stop another designer from making it or making it better and releasing the files and prints. His mistake was going for the fame and glory for doing it.

Dr. Frank Enstine on May 10, 2013 at 9:02 AM

Of course, one doesn’t need the blueprints if one has a good picture of the components. Quite a clever design actually.

Keith_Indy on May 10, 2013 at 8:55 AM

I was surprised they could get enough spring pressure to set off the primer with an SLA.

roy_batty on May 10, 2013 at 9:05 AM

His mistake was going for the fame and glory for doing it.

Dr. Frank Enstine on May 10, 2013 at 9:02 AM

I don’t believe either were Wilson’s motivators.

roy_batty on May 10, 2013 at 9:06 AM

Not all liberals are against the distribution of the files; they are more concerned about the government’s attempt to control distribution of information. On Reddit they are pointing people to copies of these files on various sites such as The Pirate Bay. Some of the top comments though pointed out the government’s stupidity “Dude, it’s already on the internet you can’t remove stuff from the internet…”

Now, if only those same people could recognize the danger the government represents when it tries to control many other aspects of life.

Over50 on May 10, 2013 at 9:22 AM

Links as promised. Take THIS, Feds!

Link 1
Link 2
Link 3
Link 4
Link 5
Link 6

Use this if you haven’t the T0r software installed on your machine:
Tor-to-clearnet, please read directions.

MelonCollie on May 10, 2013 at 9:45 AM

Not good…my download links are not appearing…

MelonCollie on May 10, 2013 at 9:45 AM

roy_batty on May 10, 2013 at 8:35 AM

http://archive.org/details/DefDistDEFCADMEGAPACKV3.7

You’re welcome.

Ryan Anthony on May 10, 2013 at 9:46 AM

As promised, the deepnet links to the Liberator data archive. Has been repacked with 10% recovery built-in, in case the archive is damaged in-transit.

All links checked and working as of this morning.

MelonCollie on May 10, 2013 at 9:48 AM

Well, this will be effective. I’m sure he’ll be the first, only, and last person to accomplish this feat. No one else will try, or even improve on the design. And certainly, no one will put the directions up anywhere else. I think Day by Day had something to say about that today. It’s obviously easy to put this genie back in the bottle.

Seriously, our government is being run by idiots if they think shutting this site down will accomplish anything whatsoever.

Chris of Rights on May 10, 2013 at 10:09 AM

Seriously, our government is being run by idiots

if they think

Chris of Rights on May 10, 2013 at 10:09 AM

Heh!

roy_batty on May 10, 2013 at 10:57 AM

http://archive.org/details/DefDistDEFCADMEGAPACKV3.7

You’re welcome.

Ryan Anthony on May 10, 2013 at 9:46 AM

Thanks but I’m a brake tubing kind of guy.

/wink wink

roy_batty on May 10, 2013 at 10:58 AM

Feds demand removal of 3-D printable gun plans from the Internet bell to be unrung!

There, fixed that.

roy_batty on May 10, 2013 at 11:01 AM

Brake… tubing? :S

Sorry, that went far over my head.

Ryan Anthony on May 10, 2013 at 11:19 AM

Pellet rifles have come a long way since the old days and are available in somewhat higher calibers now. If fascists successfully ban bullet components like brass or gunpowder, in the future people will still be able to 3D print high caliber pellets. I look forward to the first 3D printed pellet gun.

FloatingRock on May 10, 2013 at 12:49 AM

Depending on the size of the pellet, maybe.

As it is, you CAN build a decent High Velocity single shot pellet rifle with common parts using either larger CO2 cartridge or even *gasp* “assault” compressed gas cans…like hairspray or pest control cans.

Nothing helps innovation like restriction, especially in a Free Society.

BlaxPac on May 10, 2013 at 11:26 AM

Something curious that occurred to me. I have this file. I downloaded it last night, from a link that was actually provided by someone in the comments section of the Defense Distributed site. I checked it out. There’s a couple of nice, full readmes in there…

…and an additional readme…in Chinese.

Is it just possible that the reason the State Department is clamping down on this not because of pure anti-gun sentiment(for which I’m sure the ATF could throw its weight around)…but perhaps a worry that the plans will head east, and possibly get into the hands of citizens in a tyrannical Communist regime that we just happen to be best buds with, in terms of trade?

Trust me, I’m not trying to give the Benghazi Bullshitters the benefit of the doubt. However, the inclusion of the Chinese readme is incredibly curious.

MadisonConservative on May 10, 2013 at 12:14 PM

Brake… tubing? :S

Sorry, that went far over my head.

Ryan Anthony on May 10, 2013 at 11:19 AM

The original zip gun barrel, i.e. old school.

roy_batty on May 10, 2013 at 1:29 PM

However, the inclusion of the Chinese readme is incredibly curious.

MadisonConservative on May 10, 2013 at 12:14 PM

There does seem to be a cozy relationship between both countries on this topic:

China-US Gun Control Co-op

roy_batty on May 10, 2013 at 1:38 PM

Sorry, here was the link to the toy gun arrest article: http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/05/08/exclusive-man-arrested-for-allegedly-shooting-realistic-toy-gun-with-kids-in-queens-park/

Madisonian on May 10, 2013 at 7:23 AM

He remained in custody Wednesday evening, on charges of reckless endangerment, endangering the welfare of a minor, resisting arrest, and possession of an illegal BB gun.

Oh my! Obviously one of America’s Most Wanted!

More and more, it becomes clear that certain people want the mere concept of a gun to be considered evil.

Real evil is putting a guy in jail for playing with his kids with a toy gun.

There Goes the Neighborhood on May 10, 2013 at 9:26 PM

Something curious that occurred to me. I have this file. I downloaded it last night, from a link that was actually provided by someone in the comments section of the Defense Distributed site. I checked it out. There’s a couple of nice, full readmes in there…

…and an additional readme…in Chinese.

Is it just possible that the reason the State Department is clamping down on this not because of pure anti-gun sentiment(for which I’m sure the ATF could throw its weight around)…but perhaps a worry that the plans will head east, and possibly get into the hands of citizens in a tyrannical Communist regime that we just happen to be best buds with, in terms of trade?

Trust me, I’m not trying to give the Benghazi Bullshitters the benefit of the doubt. However, the inclusion of the Chinese readme is incredibly curious.

MadisonConservative on May 10, 2013 at 12:14 PM

I don’t know that it’s all that surprising. Who would have more need for the ability to defend yourself than a Chinese subject? It may well have nothing to do with the US at all.

Certainly, they have a greater need for encryption.

There Goes the Neighborhood on May 10, 2013 at 9:28 PM

Is it just possible that the reason the State Department is clamping down on this not because of pure anti-gun sentiment(for which I’m sure the ATF could throw its weight around)…but perhaps a worry that the plans will head east, and possibly get into the hands of citizens in a tyrannical Communist regime that we just happen to be best buds with, in terms of trade?

Trust me, I’m not trying to give the Benghazi Bullshitters the benefit of the doubt. However, the inclusion of the Chinese readme is incredibly curious.

MadisonConservative on May 10, 2013 at 12:14 PM

MadCon, that is not at all far-fetched. The wealth imbalance in China is so much worse than in America it’s sickening…and their population is way higher. Imagine a million-peasant march on Beijing with a printed 10-guage shotgun and a pair of upscaled ‘liberators’ each. Unlike in America, the sheer weight of numbers alone would make the rulers soil their trousers.

I would not find it unlikely that the State Dept. put two and two together and realized that an armed uprising in China would mean the shortage if not collapse of every kind of imported cheap cr@p we get from them. The supply line is terrifyingly thin with the modern notion of “just in time” inventory.

MelonCollie on May 10, 2013 at 11:09 PM

Comment pages: 1 2