Constitutional Law

State Dept. tells Texas law student to take down Web blueprints for 3-D printer to make plastic gun


A University of Texas law student says he has complied but is reviewing his legal options after being ordered by the U.S. State Department to take down blueprints posted online that show how a 3-D printer can be used to create a plastic gun.

Cody Wilson is a founder of Defense Distributed. The Austin-based nonprofit drew State Department scrutiny by posting a video demonstrating that “the Liberator” actually works, the Washington Post (reg. req.) reports.

The firearm, which uses an ordinary nail as a firing pin, looks like a water pistol but fires a .380 caliber bullet. It can be made using a 3-D printer that fabricates objects from blueprints.

Although the blueprints are not currently available through Defense Distributed, they had already been downloaded 100,000 times prior to the takedown and posted internationally, putting the issue beyond the control of U.S. authorities, the Post notes.

The State Department issued the takedown order under its power to review arms exports.

See also:

Future Tense (Slate): “You Can Now 3-D Print Your Own Working Gun, But You Probably Shouldn’t”

Mashable: “State Department Compels Gunsmith to Remove 3D-Printed Gun Files”

Mother Jones: “State Department Forces Texas Law Student to Take Down Instructions for 3-D-Printed Guns”

The New Yorker: “A Gun, a Printer, an Ideology”

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