AUSTIN (CN) – A Texas group has removed from the Internet downloadable designs for a 3D-scannable and printable handgun, at the request of federal officials who said laws may have been broken.
Defense Distributed, an Austin-based nonprofit, took designs for the Liberator pistol offline on May 8 after the U.S. Department of State wrote to its founder, Cody Wilson, 25, a law student at the University of Texas at Austin.
Defense Distributed on May 5 posted a YouTube video of the pistol being fired.
The video shows the disassembled weapon being made up from 15 plastic parts.
The State Department’s Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance wrote to Wilson that the Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms Regulations impose requirements and restrictions on the transfer and access of technical data for designated weapons.
“Defense Distributed may have released ITAR-controlled technical data without the required prior authorization from the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, a violation of the ITAR,” the agency wrote. “Technical data regulated under the ITAR refers to information required for the design, development, production, manufacture, assembly, operation, repair, testing, maintenance or modification of defense articles, including information in the form of blueprints, drawings, photographs, plans, instructions or documentation.”
The State Department asked Wilson to submit information about several data files on his website, including designs for the Liberator, .22 electric, 125mm BK-14M high-explosive anti-tank warhead, Springfield XD-40 tactical slide assembly and the “Dirty Diane,” an oil filter silencer adapter, among others.
“Until the department provides Defense Distributed with final [Commodity Jurisdiction] determinations, Defense Distributed should treat the above technical data as ITAR-controlled,” the agency wrote. “This means that all such data should be removed from public access immediately.”
Calling itself the “home of the Wiki weapon project,” Defense Distributed made it possible for people with 3D scanners to “print” a plastic handgun.
“This project might change the way we think about gun control and consumption,” Defense Distributed said on its website. “How do governments behave if they must one day operate on the assumption that any and every citizen has near instant access to a firearm through the Internet? Let’s find out.”
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