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article image3D-printed gun files downloaded 100,000 times, files taken down

By JohnThomas Didymus     May 9, 2013 in Technology
A blueprint that can be used to produce a 3D-printed plastic gun called the Liberator, uploaded online by Defense Distributed, has been banned by the US government after it was downloaded about 100,000 times.
A Department of States spokesman said: "Although we do not comment on whether we have individual ongoing compliance matters, we can confirm that the department has been in communication with the company."
Betabeat posted a copy of the letter the US government sent to Defense Distributed on to its website. The letter cited international arms control law and demanded that the blueprints be taken offline because they may contain information controlled by the Department of State.
Cody Wilson, founder of Defense Distributed, told Betabeat: "I immediately complied and I've taken down the files. But this is a much bigger deal than guns. It has implications for the freedom of the web."
According to The Guardian, Defense Distributed did not host the files in the US. It hosted them on Kim Dotcom's Mega site based in New Zealand which assures users that it encrypts all users' personal information. However, the blueprint was visible only on Defense Distributed's website When users click on it they are prompted to download the CAD files from, according to Forbes.
The files were was also uploaded to file-sharing site Pirate Bay, where they became the most popular in the site's 3D-printing category, the BBC reports.
According to The Guardian, a news reporter who downloaded the file in the US was unable to print the gun because 3D-printing companies refused citing laws that prohibit production of the weapon. Some asked unreasonably high prices.
Defense Distributed expressed surprise at the amount of interest its crude single-shot plastic weapon generated online. The group said most of the downloads were in the US, Spain, Brazil, Germany and the UK.
Digital Journal reported that the Defense Distributed recently carried out a successful test of the gun. Cody Wilson, a 25-year-old law student at the University of Texas, founded the non-profit group. Last year, he announced plans to produce a 3D-printed gun and make the files available to anyone to download.
The gun was assembled from printed components made from ABS plastic. The only non-plastic component is a firing pin and a piece of steel that allows the gun to be detected by metal detectors in compliance with the Undetectable Firearms Act.
Anti-gun activist began making moves to have the gun banned under the Undetectable Firearms Act due to the security consequences of the fact that they can pass through metal detectors.
The New York Congressman Steve Israel, introduced a bill to add new provisions to the Undetectable Firearms Act that target 3D-printed guns and components.
Congressman Steve Israel issued a press release Friday in response to latest developments: "Security checkpoints, background checks, and gun regulations will do little good if criminals can print plastic firearms at home and bring those firearms through metal detectors with no one the wiser. When I started talking about the issue of plastic firearms months ago, I was told the idea of a plastic gun is science-fiction. Now that this technology is proven, we need to act now to extend the ban [on] plastic firearms."
New York Senator Chuck Schumer said plastic guns were a security threat because they can pass through metal detectors. CBS New York reports he said: "[The] Guns are made out of plastic, so they would not be detectable by a metal detector at any airport or sporting event. Only metal part of the gun is the little firing pin and that is too small to be detected by metal detectors... A terrorist, someone who’s mentally ill, a spousal abuser, a felon can essentially open a gun factory in their garage."
California Senator Leland Yee said in a statement: "I plan to introduce legislation that will ensure public safety and stop the manufacturing of guns that are invisible to metal detectors and that can be easily made without a background check,"
The BBC reports that UK's Metropolitan Police says that although downloading the blueprints is not illegal any UK citizen who prints the handgun could face arrest. The Metropolitan Police said in a statement: "To actually manufacture any type of firearm in the UK, you have to be a registered firearms dealer (RFD). Therefore, unless you are an RFD, it would most definitely be an offence to make a gun using the blueprints. It may be legal for an RFD to manufacture a gun this way, as long as they had the necessary authorities."
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