One of the key proponents of a technology allowing a plastic gun to be assembled through a three-dimensional printing process has been forced to remove all firearms-related schematics from a personal defense website that had made the designs available for free.
The U.S. Department of Defense sent a letter last Thursday to Defense Distributed, the free speech and 2nd Amendment advocacy group behind the website, demanding all the material be taken down. Defense Distributed had created a companion website known as DEFCAD, a self-described “makeshift” site intended to host firearms-related files previously self-censored by Makerbot, which manufactures 3-D printers and provides info on how to use them.
You can still visit the site and browse all the stuff that, before last week, was available for 3D enthusiasts to download. The “Liberator” schematic was downloaded 100,000 times in only two days. But all the “download” links, for all the schematics, have been changed. It’s now a “look, but don’t touch” affair.
The government censor came only three days after the group announced it had successfully test-fired its first prototype of a 3-D printed weapon it had dubbed the “Liberator,” a device whose only non-plastic component is its metal firing pin:
The DEFCAD site now has an alert at the top of all its pages:
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.
When you scroll down to the area of each page where downloads had previously been available, this is what you see:
While 3D printers are still more expensive than most guns, the theoretical endgame of the new capability — which essentially democratizes the process of manufacturing firearms and makes it possible to create guns at home, away from the existing infrastructure of dealers, licensing and background checks — is already drawing the wrath of liberals in Congress.