Update: 3D-Printed Gun Faces Crackdown

defense-distributed-liberator,Z-M-383602-13Just a few days ago, Defense Distributed announced the creation of the world’s first gun that is made entirely out of 3D-printed parts. And as anticipated, it didn’t take long for a crackdown to ensue. The group’s leader Cody Wilson, after conducting the first successful firing test of “The Liberator”, claimed that the blueprints would be uploaded to the open-source website Defcad so they would be available to anyone.

Yesterday, less than a week after the announcement was made, Mr. Wilson claimed that Defcad is “going dark” at the request of the U.S. Department of Defense Trade Controls. Defense Distributed runs the website, which has been a provider of weapons-related 3D printer blueprints since the group was founded.

Defense Distributed new magazines

As of yesterday, the site contained only a brief message explaining why it the Liberator blueprints were no longer available:

Defcad files are being removed from public access at the request of the U.S. Department of Defence Trade Controls. Until further notice, the United States government claims control of the information.

The group’s twitter feed also contained the following message:

#DEFCAD has gone dark at the request of the Department of Defense Trade Controls. Take it up with the Secretary of State.

The weapon itself was the result of eight months of research and testing on behalf of Wilson and his group. In that time, the group has become a source of controversy due to their dedication to making blueprints for printable gun parts available online. These include components for AR-15 assault weapon and extended magazines for an AK-47 assault rifle.

defense_distmagHowever, the Liberator, named in honor of the single-shot pistols that were dropped on France during the Second World War, was the first set of blueprints that was made entirely out of ABS plastic, making it the first open-source “Wiki-weapon” that would be available to anyone with the means to print it.

As a result of their commitment to open-source weaponry, Defense Distributed has become the subject of penalties and restrictions. In fact, Defcad was created after Makerbot Industries chose to purge all of the group’s gun blueprints from the website. Shortly after they test-fired an AR-15 that included printed parts, Wilson and his associates also had their 3D printer, which they had been leasing, seized.

defense_dist1This latest decision targets their activities at their source. However, the decision to take the plans off of Defcad did not present an estimated 10,000 downloads. However, it is not clear if those who obtained the plans will be able to print them off at their local printing shop. Only those who already possess a 3D printing unit, which is likely to run them between $1000 and $3000 dollars will be able to produce their own version of the Liberator.

In short, this issue is not yet resolved. Knowing Wilson and his admirers, open-source, printable weapons are likely to remain a contentious issue for some time to come…

Source: cbc.ca

The World’s First Completely 3D-Printed Gun

liberatorSince it’s inception, 3D printing has offered people a wide range of manufacturing possibilities, ranging from the creation of intricate prototypes to drugs and even human tissue. However, one of the most controversial manufactured items to come from the technology has been what the Texas-based organization known as Defense Distributed refers to as “Wiki-weapons”, guns that can be made by anyone using downloaded blueprints and a public printer.

DD_gunsNot long ago, the group announced that they had successfully created a working AR-15 assault weapon using some printed parts. This drew sharp criticism from advocates of gun control, in part because the same weapon was used in the Newton, Connecticut school shooting. However, Cody Wilson, founder of DD, announced that they would continue to pursue their goal of making printed guns, stating that their commitment to the 2nd Amendment took precedence over a single tragedy.

And now, it appear that they have gone a step further, unveiling the world’s first fully 3D-printed weapon. Save for a nail which is used as the firing pin, the gun is made up entirely of printed parts, can fire normal ammunition and is capable of making it past a metal detector. It’s called the Liberator, the product of eight months of labor by Cody and his group, and named in honor of the one-shot pistols that were airdropped by the Allies on France during the Second World War.

DD_liberatorIn an interview with Forbes, Cody and his group demonstrated their first test firing, which was a success. He also claimed that the Liberator will be capable of connecting to different barrels, allowing it to fire various calibers of ammunition. He also plans to publish the files necessary to print it at home as well as details on its operation so that anyone can produce their own.

This is all in keeping with Cody’s vision – being a hardcore libertarian and anarchist – to create a class of weapon that anyone can produce, circumventing the law and the regulatory process. At the same time though, Distributed Defense did decide to include a small chunk of metal in the final design to ensure that the gun couldn’t pass through a metal detector undetected. This is in compliance with the Undetectable Firearms Act, and may have been motivated by the group’s sagging public image.

Defense_DistributedHowever, this has not stopped the group from obtaining a federal firearms license this past March, making it a legal gun manufacturer. And once the file is online, anybody will be able to download it. What’s more, all attempts to limit DD’s activities, which include printing firms purging gun parts from their databases, has made Cody even more eager to pursue his aims. In a statement made to Forbes magazine, he said:

You can print a lethal device. It’s kind of scary, but that’s what we’re aiming to show… Everyone talks about the 3D printing revolution. Well, what did you think would happen when everyone has the means of production? I’m interested to see what the potential for this tool really is. Can it print a gun?

Well, Mr. Wilson, we’re about to find out! And if I were a betting man, I would say it the “potential” will include more unregistered firearms, a terrorist act or shooting that will involve a partially printed weapon, and Wilson’s continued intransigence to reform his ways, citing the 2nd Amendment as always. Libertarians are nothing if not predictable!

Sources: tech.fortune.cnn.com, forbes.com

 

3-D Printed Guns. The Future is Frightening!

AR-15In what has proven to be a frightening development to many, it now seems that it may be even easier for people to get their hands on guns without background checks, identification, or licenses. All you need is a computer, an internet hookup, and access to a 3D printer. It might sound like the stuff of science fiction, but thanks to at least one group of people who have all three, it appears to be entirely doable.

One such group is Defense Distributed, an online, open-source, non-profit organization that seeks to create a “Wiki weapon” – i.e. a weapon downloaded and printed with 3D technology. The group recently claimed to have downloaded the specs for a weapon from the internet, inputted them into a 3D printer, assembled the resulting plastic pieces, and then used it as one would a regular gun.

According to Cody Wilson, a University of Texas law student and the  “Wiki Weapons” project leader, the group last month test fired a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle which was built with parts created on a 3-D printer. The gun was fired six times before it broke. Though no independent observers were on hand to verify the test, but a short video was posted to Youtube to back up the claim.

Naturally, the news has a number of people nervous, not the least of which are gun control advocates. Not only is an AR-15 an automatic weapon that was used in last week’s Connecticut School Massacre, the technology could also give countless people the ability to generate deadly guns in a way that remains unregulated and unmonitored. With gun control already at the top of the US government’s agenda, this news is expected to influence the debate.

What’s more, the fact that the issue of gun control has been gaining so much momentum in the last week  could be seen as a likely influence for the group’s efforts. Wilson, who apparently expressed concern over the recent shootings, is motivated by his belief in the Second Amendment. In the end, he claims, free access to firearms is far more important than a single terrible tragedy, which he also characterized as an inevitable result of having the right to bear arms.What’s more, his group made it clear that though they discussed stopping in the light of the recent tragedy, they have no intention of stopping, believing their work to be “too important to stop.”

I imagine they would feel differently if they had children that were amongst the victims.

So I put the question to others, is this a development which holds frighten the general citizenry? Are tougher gun control laws, should Congress approve them, coming at a time when they are in danger of becoming obsolete? And if so, what’s to be done about it?

Personally, I am quite worried. For some time I have been extolling the virtues of new media, the internet, and the freedom it engenders, specifically in terms of information. When it came to 3D printing and other revolutionary fabrication processes, I figured the potential for good outweighed the potential for harm. But at Wilson and his compatriots at Defense Distributed may have demonstrated, bad people, or simply misguided people, can use it for entirely harmful purposes!

Source: CBC.ca