There are those who will only let their firearms be taken away from their cold, dead 3D printers. Defense Distributed, a group of IT professionals, students, and engineers located in the US and Germany, have reported to Forbes that the downloads for its Liberator gun have reached 100,000. Earlier this week, they had demonstrated their product being discharged successfully in Texas. Since then, California Senator Leland Yee has been taking steps to ban the weapon, attempting to outlaw the manufacture of 3D-printed guns.
Defense Distributed has observed that most of the downloads have come from the US, followed by Spain, Brazil, Germany, and the UK. The blueprint has been added to Pirate Bay, becoming some of the site’s most popular files. In the wake of tragedies such as Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, the gun debate has come to the forefront of American politics. Senator Yee is seeking to block the production of 3D printed weapons. “I plan to introduce legislation that will ensure public safety and stop the manufacturing of guns that are invisible to metal detectors and that can be easily made without a background check,” he said in a statement. Joining Senator Yee’s efforts to restrict 3D-printed guns are New York congressmen Steve Israel and Chuck Schumer. They have added a provision to the US Undetectable Firearms Act to include printed weapons.
Proponents of allowing the people to print their own firearms, including Defense Distributed, argue that there should be no outlawed technology unless it is classified as “malicious software.” The company took eight months to create the Liberator, buying a printer from eBay for $8,000. Only the firing pin was made of metal, the rest of the components were produced by depositing layers of plastic to form the parts. The US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms issued project head Cody Wilson a license to make the gun which is legal in the country, but not to sell the pistol which would require a permit. Meanwhile, as the nation argues over gun control policy, 3D printers are expanding into a whole new territory and sparking strong emotions from all sides.
Images via Defense Distributed.