3D-printed firearm plans downloaded 100,000 times, State Department steps in

That didn't take long -- just days after its first test fire, the Liberator, a 3D-printed pistol designed by Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson, has caught the attention of the federal government. It's hardly a surprise: the arm's blueprints were downloaded more than 100,000 times since going live on DefCAD this week. It's not the amount of downloads that's causing trouble, though, it's who is downloading them. In a letter from the US State Department, Wilson was told that it's a violation of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations to "export any defense article or technical data for which a license or written approval is required without first obtaining the required authorization from the DDTC (Directorate of Defense Trade Controls)."

The letter goes on to explain that these downloads legally count as exports under the law, telling Wilson to remove the plans from public access immediately. "That might be an impossible standard," Wilson told Forbes. "But we'll do our part to remove it from our servers." As it turns out, most of the gun's downloads were served via Mega, making full removal near impossible. Still, Wilson seems optimistic about the situation, explaining to Forbes that conversation will help mold the discussion on 3D printed weaponry. "Is this a workable regulatory regime? Can there be defense trade control in the era of the internet and 3D printing?" We're looking forward to discovering the answer ourselves.