A few days ago I reported that “The Liberator” was the first fully functioning 3-D printed gun that could fire live ammunition. Now, after the files have been available for days, the blueprints have been removed from the source and serious charges may await the manufacturer.
This does nothing for the “100,000” or more people that have downloaded the gun’s blueprints since they went live. Not to mention the millions of people that will have easy access to those blueprints via torrent sites or social-media. Cody Wilson, who is the head of Defense Distributed and designer of the gun, stated that he received a letter from the US State Department, asking him to remove all of the files for the gun and others like it. He was also told that he would have to officially apply for a ruling to see if he could distribute those files to the public.
Betabeat posted the letter online, from the State Department’s Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance, where it states that Wilson may have violated the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) laws. More specifically the ban on “exporting any defense article or technical data” that would normally require a license and authorization to export. In this case a gun license and a license to sell or manufacture guns.
As of right now it seems that the 3-D printed gun rests in a state of limbo with the law, as it is a new technology. It is unclear at this point if the ten files for the printable weapons fall into this code. If The Liberator and other weapon-designs that Wilson posted online (like the “125mm BK-14M high-explosive anti-tank warhead” that was also available) fall into this category, then he could be charged with aiding in the distribution of arms to foreign countries which is an extremely serious charge. This also would mean that anyone that helps share those files on sites like Pirate bay could also face charges in the U.S. on similar charges. This could help remove the files from the U.S. but thanks to Wilson, they are most likely on the internet forever, and waiting to be improved.