Plans for the 3D-printed gun developed by Defense Distributed have been downloaded 100,000 times, reports Forbes’s Andy Greenberg.
The State Department, Greenberg also reports, has sent the company a letter, calling for them to take down the computer-aided design, or CAD, files, citing a potential violation of export control laws. A State Department spokesperson confirmed that the department has been in communication with the company, but would not provide any details as to the nature of the communication or the message conveyed. Defense Distributed’s download site, defcad.org, features the following message:
“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.”
And Defense Distributed posted the following tweet announcing that the site had “gone dark:”
#DEFCAD has gone dark at the request of the Department of Defense Trade Controls. Take it up with the Secretary of State.
— Defense Distributed (@DefDist) May 9, 2013
It may be too late, however, to stop anyone determined to get a copy of the computer-aided design, or CAD, files. The files are being hosted on Mega and have been uploaded to the Pirate Bay.
So, is it time to panic yet? Probably not. As Gizmodo’s Ashley Feinberg outlines, there are a number of steps — getting a high enough grade 3D printer among them — that stand between downloading the CAD files and making a functioning one-shot 3D-printed “Liberator,” the name Defense Distributed gave the first 3D-printed gun to be successfully fired. But recent developments show that the debate is continuing to heat up around 3D-printed guns and it’s a debate, according to Greenberg, that Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson is eager to have:
“This is the conversation I want … Is this a workable regulatory regime? Can there be defense trade control in the era of the Internet and 3D printing?”
What do you think: Would you download the CAD files — have you? What are the potential implications for the future of the nation’s gun laws? Let us know in the comments.