Feds Demand Plans For 3D Printed Gun Be Pulled From The Internet


They can make the demand, but can they really hope to control the information? I mean, the federal government also wants people to stop pirating Game of Thrones online too, but they haven’t been able to put much of a dent in peer-to-peer sharing.

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.”

This isn’t so much a 2nd amendment issue, or even a trade issue, as it is a 1st amendment issue. Mr. Wilson wasn’t distributing guns. He was distributing plans to make guns.

If I built a car to be shipped to China, that would be exporting. If I posted the blueprints for making a car on the internet, that’s not an export. That’s an exchange of information.

There’s no doubt that the prospect of 3D-printed weapons has the government spooked, but what’s troubling is that the knee-jerk reaction is going to be a crackdown on the dissemination of information. If the feds really get moving toward restricting the dissemination of CAD files for firearms, how much new regulation of information on the internet are we going to see?

It’s positively chilling, and ultimately counterproductive. Like it or not, 3D printers are fast approaching the point at which they’re affordable by the average citizen. And no matter how hard the government tries, those with a little know-how are going to be able to get the information they want. So instead of driving the information underground with a futile and expensive crackdown, why not allow the development of this new technology to happen out in the open?

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • NDJimmy

    It’s been downloaded 100k times. Pandora left the building. Ask anybody dumb enough to sext if the genie can be stuffed back in the bottle.

  • Matthew Hawkins

    You don’t know the law. Stop pretending you do.

    Under Export Control laws posting the plans on the internet is just as much an export as sending the actual product overseas.

    Even showing the plans to a foreign national in this country is an export.

    Don’t give legal advice.

    • NoDakNative

      Still OK to export pipe fittings, fertilizer and diesel fuel though……..

    • JoeMN

      So it’s unlawful simply because somebody from overseas MIGHT download the plans ?

      • NoDakNative

        Also remember that about 20,000 prohibited persons tried to buy guns last year, but the Obama administration prosecuted only about 60 of them. To be fair, Bush, Clinton, Bush Senior, etc never did either.

        • $8194357


      • Matthew Hawkins

        If the item is export controlled under ITAR it is illegal because the law says it is illegal. I am not a big fan of export control laws. I think they are way over done. It is ludicrous that I can import something, but than to export it again I need a license.
        I was just making the point that Rob saying that plans are not exports is 100% wrong. They are exports and the same laws apply as if you exported the actual device.

  • Roy_Bean

    My question for the State Department is ” What difference does it make?”

  • matthew_bosch

    Cody Wilson should have known that one needs to run for office and take campaign donations from foreign enemies before he is allowed to share plans for weapons with them.

    BTW, the guys in the Khyber Pass apparently don’t need 3D printers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khyber_Pass_Copy

  • Say It

    I am suprised that the guy did not end up “missing”. Doing things that TPTB forbid you to do, can cause you to commit suicide.

  • DelawareBeachHouse

    A completely empty but obnoxious dictat. In 1979, a federal court allowed The Progressive magazine to publish the design of a hydrogen bomb as protected by the First Amendment. (More accurately, the feds dropped the litigation.)


    Here’s the original article:


    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      IS there any danger, really, in publishing the design of an H-bomb? Really, how many people have the technological knowledge, the equipment and the supplies necessary to do anything with it?

      Sometimes we are far too afraid of information.

      • DelawareBeachHouse


  • NoDakNative

    Odd how they are freaking out about 3D printed guns, yet not a word about the fact that anyone with basic metalworking skills can turn out full-auto machine-guns in their garage. Guns like the STEN, M3 Grease Gun, PPSh-41, and other 50+ year old designs were created to be built mainly out of sheet metal and crude castings with minimal machining work. The plans for these weapons are everywhere.

    This 3D printed gun is a joke, it’s a single shot zip gun. Pakistani tribesman build better weapons out of scrap metal in the mountains.

    • TyrannyInsurance

      Ah, the M3 grease gun. Great idea. I believe I have enough stuff laying around to make one. you can also mill out your own big bad evil black AR-15 lower receiver from a block of aluminum and a milling machine then buy all the parts to make it go “bang” with no paperwork. YouTube shows you how to do it!

  • borborygmi45

    MAD <Mutually Assured Destruction, It worked to deter nuclear destruction, It will work for small arms also, I think, maybe, it could…. Everyone armed and that will deter

    • Onslaught1066

      Mentally attenuated democrat.

      What’s so hard about that.