A few days ago TheBlaze reported that Defense Distributed, which is heading up the Wiki-Weapons project, had completed its initial goal of creating a fully functional firearm using only a 3D printer. It then posted the blueprints for this 3D printable design on its DEFCAD forum.
First, there were renewed calls for bans on such weapons from lawmakers classifying them as “undetectable” by metal detectors and X-ray machines. And Thursday afternoon, the files for “The Liberator” design, which many have been downloading for the last couple days, were “removed from public access at the request of the US Department of Defense Trade Controls,” a notice on DEFCAD reads.
This message is posted in a red banner at the top of the DEFCAD website along with the sentence “Until further notice, the United States government claims control of the information.”
Many portions of the site return a server error as well.
As TheBlaze has reported before, much of the Wiki-Weapons project was not only based on using 3D-printing technology to create a capable, safe firearm but about freedom of the Internet. Of the latter, Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson told TheBlaze in a phone interview Thursday night that what has happened now with the takedown is the “ultimate demonstration we got to the heart of the matter.”
“Our society is based on hard controls. [The government] literally believes they can manage where these technologies take us,” he said.
A letter to Defense Distributed from the Department of State, Bureau of Political Military Affairs, Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance, Enforcement Division (DTCC/END) explains that while conducting a review of the data posted on DEFCAD it found that the licensed firearm manufacturer might have released ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations)-controlled information without authorization and would thus be in violation. Here’s more from the letter (emphasis added):
The Department believes Defense Distributed may not have established the proper jurisdiction of the subject technical data. To resolve this matter officially, we request that Defense Distributed submit Commodity Jurisdiction (CJ) determination requests for the following selection of data files available on DEFCAD.org, and any other technical data for which Defense Distributed is unable to determine proper jurisdiction:
- Defense Distributed Liberator pistol
- .22 electric
- 125mm BK-14M high-explosive anti-tank warhead
- 5.56/.223 muzzle brake
- Springfield XD-40 tactical slide assembly
- Sound Moderator – slip on
- “The Dirty Diane” 1/2-28 to 3/4-16 STP S3600 oil filter silencer adapter
- 12 gauge to .22 CB sub-caliber insert
- Voltlock electronic black powder system
- VZ-58 sight
DTCC/END requests that Defense Distributed submits its CJ requests within three weeks of the receipt of this letter and notify this office of the final CJ determinations. All CJ requests must be submitted electronically through an online application using the DS-4076 Commodity Jurisdiction Request Form. The form, guidance for submitting CJ requests, and other relevant information such as a copy of the ITAR can be found on DDTC’s website at http://www.pmddtc.state.gov.
Until the Department provides Defense Distributed with the final CJ determinations, Defense Distributed should treat the above technical data as ITAR-controlled. This means that all such data should be removed form public access immediately. Defense Distributed should also review the remainder of the data made public on its website to determine whether any additional data may be similarly controlled and proceed according to ITAR requirements.
Additionally, DTCC/END requests information about the procedures Defense Distributed follows to determine the classification of its technical data, to include aforementioned technical data files. We ask that you provide your procedures for determining proper jurisdiction of technical data within 30 days of the date of this letter to Ms. Bridget Van Buren, Compliance Specialist, Enforcement Division, at the address below.
Wilson told TheBlaze in a phone interview Thursday night that he “spent months building an organization that complied with every law out there,” noting he believes political motivation by those against the printed guns is behind this move.
If he believes he was in compliance with the law, then why did he agree to the request that the files be removed?
“I did it because they said I had to behave as if that information is theirs to control,” as it pertains to ITAR, Wilson said.
He said he wanted to comply because he wanted to give his project “its best chance of success moving forward.”
DEFCAD users have been commenting on the current takedown of information.
“I thought this was America where we had the right to bear arms and the freedom of speech and assembly, not some fascist government where they censor everything on the internet,” the user Toddhrmn wrote.
But the current takedown hasn’t stopped other people who have already downloading it and posted the files on websites in other countries. There’s an example here. It has also been posted on Pirate Bay, one of the largest bit torrent sites on the Web.
Over the next 30 days, which Wilson expects to use completely to answer the government’s letter, Wilson said he hopes to work with a lawyer with experience in ITAR.
In case you missed it, here is Defense Distributed’s video of “The Liberator”:
- Wiki-Weapons Fires First 100% 3D-Printed Handgun
- Now There’s a short Documentary Going Inside 3D-Printed Gun Operation “Wiki Weapons”
- Website to TheBlaze: People Rushing to Download Online Blueprints for 3D Printed Guns (Plus See Who From the Gov Is Visiting)
- Wiki-Weapons Shows 3D-Printed Gun Part Can Withstand 600 Rounds
- Have You Heard of the ‘Wiki-Weapons Project’ That Plans to Make 3D Printable Gun Designs Available to All?