The Liberator may have given gun enthusiasts a huge boost in confidence, but the 3D printable gun may also be attracting unwanted attention for 3D printing enthusiasts as well. Right now, a US Senator is calling for regulating 3D printed guns.
Last Thursday, we reported on the US government censoring content on DEFCAD.org, a website that contains certain kinds of object files for 3D printing. The move was sparked when someone successfully 3D printed a fully functional handgun called the “Liberator”.
The successful fabrication and subsequent raid by authorities generated two unprecedented traffic spikes to the website according to Alexa.
Of course, as we predicted in the previous report, the removal of certain files from the website didn’t stop the distribution of the files by any stretch of the imagination. The general wisdom is that once it hits the web, it pretty much stays on the web. Copied of the Liberator have been floating around numerous cyberlockers as well as BitTorrent website The Pirate Bay.
Now, the government might make an additional move on 3D printed guns. According to CBS, US senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) wants to find a way to track these unregulated guns. From the report:
“Terrorists can make these guns and do some horrible things to an individual and then walk away scott-free, and that is something that is really dangerous,” said Yee.
He said while this new technology is impressive, it must be regulated when it comes to making guns. He says background checks, requiring serial numbers and even registering them could be part of new legislation that he says will protect the public.
Yee added, “This particular gun has no trace whatsoever.”
The report goes on to say that M & J Gun Trade will be fighting the possible regulation saying, through a spokesperson, that “It’s just another way to try and block gun owners”.
I think that if you asked observers of technology 10 years ago if the gun lobby would also work to help protect the distribution of content online as well as keep new technology unregulated, I don’t think very many people would say they would because the gun lobby and Internet freedom advocates work in completely separate areas – and different parts of the US constitution. Yet, here we are today seeing the gun lobby try to prevent the regulation of 3D printed guns. Interesting times indeed.
Update: The press secretary has contacted us and explained that his comments about regulation was directed at the manufacturing of the guns themselves, not 3D printers:
While Senator Yee is looking into the matter of guns manufactured by 3D printers, he is not, nor does he intend, to push for the registration of 3D printers.
We have amended the article to reflect these comments.