3D-printable gun maker ordered to take down blueprints

Designs to make plastic guns downloaded more than 100,000 times from Defense Distributed's website before feds said to remove them

U.S. Department of Defense Trade Controls has apparently ordered Defense Distributed to removed the blueprints for a 3D printable gun from its website.

After more than 100,000 downloads of its blueprints for a 3D printable gun, the federal government today has apparently stepped in and ordered Defense Distributed to take the plans off its website.

A message on the website now reads: "#DEFCAD has gone dark at the request of the Department of Defense Trade Controls. Take it up with the Secretary of State."

The State Department may believe the 3D-printable gun blueprints violate U.S. export controls.

But, the proverbial genie is already out of the bottle. Defense Distributed's CAD files with the blueprints for the 3D printable gun it demonstrated earlier this week experienced tens of thousands of downloads in just the past two days, Forbes magazine reported.

Defense Distributed's downloads were being hosted on Kim Dot Com's Mega file-sharing web service.

Defense Distributed released a YouTube video earlier this week demonstrating its first test firing of The Liberator.

Cody Wilson, the 25-year-old University of Texas law student who founded Austin-based Defense Distributed, told the BBC that he understands that 3D-printed guns could be used to hurt people but said: "I don't think that's a reason to not do it -- or a reason not to put it out there."

Defense Distributed's site also offered up blueprints for nine other 3D-printable firearms components, including a 30-round magazine and the lower receiver for an AR-15 assault rifle, the semi-automatic civilian model of the U.S. military's M16 rifle.

Wilson told Forbes he received a letter from the State Department Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance demanding that he take down the online "Liberator" handgun.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

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