Pentagon scrubs 3D gun plans from Internet, says designer

The world’s first 3D-printed handgun, The Liberator, has had its liberty taken away by the government.

ByPerry Chiaramonte


Defense Distributed was forced to have the blueprints for its “Liberator” 3D-printed gun removed from its website by the Dept. of Defense (

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May 5, 2013: A 3D printed gun created by Defense Distributed is successfully test fired by creator Cody Wilson. Wilson plans to put the blueprints for the gun online shortly. (Defense Distributed)

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A portion of a downloadable blueprint that a 3D printer can use to build a gun.

Plans for the working handgun were posted online by Cody Wilson, founder of Defense Distributed, potentially allowing anyone with access to a 3D printer to make a firearm from plastic. The plans, which had been in the works for months, caused alarm among gun control advocates but were seen by some Second Amendment advocates as a breakthrough. More than 100,000 copies of the plans were downloaded before the federal government took the files.

“[Defense Distributed’s] files are being removed from public access at the request of the U.S. Department of Defense Trade Controls,” read a banner atop the website. “Until further notice, the United States government claims control of the information.”

Wilson tells that he decided to comply to a request by the Pentagon to take down the gun specs from his website while he weighs his legal options.

“They asked that I take it down while they determine if they have the authority to control the info,” he said. “It’s clearly a direct response to everything we did this week. 3D printing is clearly not the best way to make an effective weapon.”

“Until further notice, the United States government claims control of the information.”

– Defense Distributed website

Wilson says he has complied to most laws on the books and feels that the D.O.D.’s request may be more politically motivated.

“If this is an attempt to control the info from getting out there, it’s clearly a weak one,” he said, adding that the CAD design for the weapon has already spread across the Internet at downloading sites like the Pirate Bay.

Officials from the Department of Defense did not immediately return requests for comment.

All 16 parts of the controversial gun, called the Liberator, are made from a tough, heat-resistant plastic used in products such as musical instruments, kitchen appliances and vehicle bumper bars. Fifteen of the components are made with a 3D printer while one is a non-functional metal part which can be picked up by metal detectors, making it legal under U.S. law. The firing pin is also not made of plastic, though it is easily crafted from a metal nail.

The weapon is designed to fire standard handgun rounds and even features an interchangeable barrel so that it can handle different caliber rounds.

Defense Distributed is a not-for-profit group founded by Wilson, a law student at the University of Texas. He said the Liberator project was intended to highlight how technology can render laws and governments all but irrelevant.

“I recognize that this tool might be used to harm people,” Wilson told Forbes. “That’s what it is — it’s a gun. But I don’t think that’s a reason to not put it out there. I think that liberty in the end is a better interest.”

His publishing of the printable blueprints online instantly sparked outrage in the U.S.

Using the file, anyone with access to a 3D printer could theoretically print the gun with no serial number, background check or other regulatory hurdles.

U.S. Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., has already called for national legislation to ban 3D-printed guns.

“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,” Israel said.

“When I started talking about the issue of plastic firearms months ago, I was told the idea of a plastic gun is science-fiction,” he added. “Now that this technology is proven, we need to act now to extend the ban on plastic firearms.”

Sky News contributed reporting to this story.


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