by David Mendez
Looks like it's time for folks to get acquainted with the next thing that far too many people will freak the hell out about: the Liberator, the first gun consisting almost entirely of parts fabricated via 3D printer.
Named for the World War II era FP-45 Liberator pistols that were manufactured in secret and meant to be dropped behind enemy lines to aid resistance forces in occupied territories, the only non-3D printed part on the modern Liberator is the firing pin, which consists of a repurposed nail.
According to Gizmodo, the open-source blueprints have already been downloaded more than 100,000 times, which means that the single-shot gun firing .22 caliber rimfire rounds has already spread like wildfire throughout the web.
But if you were interested in downloading the blueprints via DEFCAD.org, the website for the folks behind the Liberator project, you might want to hold your horses: the State Department has sent a letter requesting for the blueprints to be pulled down for review. Apparently, the drawings may violate the Arms Export Control Act — via BetaBeat.com:
The group’s website currently has a red banner appended to the top 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.”
“We got an official letter from the Secretary of State, telling me who they were, what their authority was under U.S. law and telling me they want to review these files to see if they’re class one munitions,” [Cody Wilson of Defense Distributed] told Betabeat by phone. “That includes blueprints.”
In the letter, the State Department says that Defense Distributed may have released data that is controlled by the International Traffic in Arms Regulation without getting prior authorization.
“Please note that disclosing (including oral or visual disclosure) or transferring technical data to a foreign person, whether in the United States or abroad, is considered an export,” reads the letter. It also says that until Defense Distributed has received the legal all-clear, the company “should treat the above technical data as ITAR-controlled. This means that all such data should be removed from public access immediately.”
So if you really want to fabricate AR-15 lower receivers, single-shot pistols or magazines for your Glock, you're going to have to wait — but it's okay, as Wilson believes he's on the correct side of the law:
“I still think we win in the end,” he added. “Because the files are all over the Internet, the Pirate Bay has it—to think this can be stopped in any meaningful way is to misunderstand what the future of distributive technologies is about.”