U.S. State Department latest to crack down on 3D-printed guns

The State Department demands that Defense Distributed, which has created a series of 3D files used to print firearms, take down the files because they could violate export restrictions.

Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson firing the Liberator, perhaps the world's-first functional fully 3D printed gun. Screenshot by Dara Kerr/CNET

The latest governmental attack on 3D printed guns came from the U.S. State Department on Thursday.

In a letter sent to Defense Distributed, a nonprofit advocating for the creation of 3D printed firearms, the State Department demanded the removal from a public Web site of a set of 3D files used to print gun components. The State Department said that the online dissemination of the files could violate restrictions on exporting guns covered by International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)

Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson said he obeyed the federal directive. It followed the announcement yesterday by California state Sen. Leland Yee, a Democrat, of legislation that would ban 3D printed guns, and a bill from Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) that restricted firearms that could be used to evade airport security. But some, including gun-control advocates, feel that these concerns are overblown.

Wilson told CNET that he had expected the State Department move, despite the fact that Defense Distributed should be protected by ITAR exemptions allowing dissemination by non-profits and into the public domain.

Forbes was first to report on the State Department's action.

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