The US State Department has banned the company Defense Distributed, which just few days ago successfully fired the world's first gun made with a 3D printer, for distributing blueprints for the gun, although more than 100.000 blueprints have already been downloaded around the world.
After Cody Wilson's organisation decided to share online the blueprints to make the plastic gun, the US government considered that the best option would be blocking the site.
Wilson received a letter from the State Department demanding him to take down the online files for the creation of the 3D gun. The government told the co-founder that it wants to review the files for compliance with arms export control laws known as the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).
“All data should be removed from public access immediately. Defense Distributed should review the remainder of the data made public on its website to determine whether any other data may be similarly controlled and proceed according to ITAR requirements,” the letter said.
After US' decision, Defense Distributed said on Twitter that the project had “gone dark” at the instigation of the government. Besides, Wilson added that the removal of all the files available online currently “might be an impossible standard. But we’ll do our part to remove it from our servers.”
According to Wilson, his company should be excluded from the ITAR, because it is a non-profit public domain which releases files to create a safe harbour for research and other activities.
The government's decision could provide relief for anti-gun campaigners, but the fact is that it may have come too late. According to Forbes, gun's blueprints were downloaded more than 100,000 times in the two days since they were uploaded.
The files have been ten times more popular than any component Defense Distributed has previously made available. ”This has definitely been our most well-received download,” Haroon Khalid, a developer working with Defense Distributed, told Forbes.
Despite the organisation is committed to delete all files from its site, the blueprints are actually being hosted by Mega, the new file-sharing system launched by Kim Dotcom months ago, and it's not clear yet whether the files will be removed from its servers or not. Components for the 3D gun had been uploaded also to the Pirate Bay site.
Spain leads the ranking of downloads, El Pais reported, followed by the US, Brazil, Germany and the UK.
Wilson doesn't consider US' action as a defeat, he highlighted that the ban shows that his 3D gun can’t be stopped. “This is the conversation I want,” Wilson says. “Is this a workable regulatory regime? Can there be defense trade control in the era of the Internet and 3D printing?”