State Department Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance ordered Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson to take down online blueprints for a 3D-printable “Liberator” handgun.
Earlier this week, Wilson posted a YouTube video showing a shot fired from “The Liberator,” the plastic handgun that, well the exception of a metal firing pin and a piece of metal included to comply with the Undetectable Firearms Act, was assembled entirely from parts made with a 3-D printer.
The Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 makes it illegal in the US to manufacture any firearm that is not detectable by walk-through metal detectors.
The UFA Act states: “The Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 (HR 4445) makes it illegal to manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, possess, transfer or receive any firearm that is not detectable by walk-through metal detectors or has major components that do not generate an accurate image when subjected to inspection by airport x-ray machines.”
The UFA is due for renewal in December. In 1988 it won with an initial House vote of 413 – 4 and a signing by then U.S. President Ronald Reagan. While it was allowed to sunset in 1998, it was renewed in 2003.
To comply with this law, Wilson inserted a 6oz piece of steel into the body of his gun, making it legal.
Law makers are saying that’s not going to cut it. Saying that since this 3D printer gun is made of plastic and only has the trigger made of metal, it creates more problems as it is difficult to detect such guns with metal detectors.
That’s not the only concern. The pressure inside a gun barrel typically reaches more than 1,000 atmospheres, and the temperature exceeds 200C, as the bullet is fired.
Jonathan Rowley, design director of London-based 3D printing specialist Digits2Widgets, issued a warning on the company blog after being approached by two UK newspapers wanting him to “print” a gun using the 3D gun blueprints by Cody Wilson on his company’s commercial printer.
Guardian UK reports, “The use of fine nylon powder in the printing stage, which could be left in the barrel by lack of cleaning, or by friction from previous bullet passage, would also be dangerous, Rowley said: ‘that’s an explosive by itself.’ The heat caused by the ignition of the gunpowder to fire the bullet could create a blast inside the barrel that would blow it up, Rowley fears.
The State department sent a three-page cease and desist letter dated Wednesday to Cody Wilson, the 25-year-old founder and self-described anarchist, demanding that the group to remove instructions for printing a handgun with a 3-D printer from its website.
“Defense Distributed may have released ITAR-controlled technical data without the required authorization from the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, a violation,” the State Department’s letter to Wilson said.
On Wilson’s Defense Distributed website, a one-line banner read, “DEFCAD files are being removed from public access at the request of the US Department of Defense Trade Controls.” The site had removed the 3D gun Blueprints by Thursday afternoon.
Only problem, blueprints were downloaded more than 100,000 times within a couple of days.
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