The State Department on Thursday ordered the nonprofit Defense Distributed to remove blueprints for the world’s first 3D-printed gun from its website.
“All such data should be removed from public access, the letter says. That might be an impossible standard. But we’ll do our part to remove it from our servers,” Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson told Forbes.
The department’s Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance warned Wilson that posting the materials online could be a violation of export controls. The International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) prohibits weapons manufactures from exporting technical data to foreign persons without authorization from the State Department.
“This means that all such data should be removed from public access immediately,” the Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance said.
Wilson, a law student at the University of Texas in Austin, told Mother Jones he expects the situation will “end up being alright,” though he admitted that it was a “little too close to comfort for me that they would be now asserting this control.” He said the U.S. government refused to prosecute a similar case.
The warning from the State Department came just days after Defense Distributed unveiled the blueprints for its plastic single-shot handgun, called the “Liberator.” The firearm can be created by anyone with the blueprints and access to a 3D printer. Defense Distributed also released nine other 3D-printable firearms components.
Wilson is often described as a radical libertarian or simply an anarchist, but he appears to be uncomfortable with such political labels. Citing the French philosopher Michel Foucault, Wilson told Glenn Beck earlier this year he was fighting “anonymous forces of discipline and control.” In a 2012 interview, he said the project was about “being able to go, you know what, I don’t like this legal regime, I neatly step outside of it.”