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BANNED: How to make a plastic gun using a 3-D printer

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 12th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A little knowledge is a very dangerous thing. With that in mind, the U.S. government has blocked a Texas-based company from publishing online how to make a plastic gun using a 3-D printer. Citing the international arms control law, the State Department says the incident came suddenly just days after the worlds first such gun was successfully fired.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Defense Distributed, the company that made the prototype, stated on Twitter that its project had "gone dark" at the instigation of the government.

The company's head, 25-year-old Cody Wilson is a University of Texas law student. He says he thought of the idea by 19th century anarchist writing. Wilson is adamant that everyone should have access to guns.

"Although we do not comment on whether we have individual ongoing compliance matters, we can confirm that the department has been in communication with the company," a State Department spokesman said.

For some, though, the action has come too little and too late. Defense Distributed told Forbes that the files have already been downloaded more than 100,000 times in the two days since they were uploaded.

The largest number of downloads initially were to addresses in Spain, followed by the U.S., Brazil, Germany and the U.K.

Fifteen of the gun's 16 pieces are constructed on the $8,000 Stratasys Dimension SST 3D printer, Forbes said. The final piece is a common nail, used as a firing pin, found in any dry goods store.

"I immediately complied and I've taken down the files," Wilson told the Web site Betabeat. "But this is a much bigger deal than guns. It has implications for the freedom of the web." Betabeat posted the letter requesting that the plans be taken offline as they may contain data regulated by the State Department. The department said it would review the files.

A famous Internet foe - long a thorn in the side for governments across the world, is behind this latest scrape. Defense Distributed does not host the files in the US; instead it has uploaded them to the Mega website run by the internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom, based in New Zealand, and where user information - including who has logged into the site and downloaded files - is encrypted.

The files have also been uploaded to the Pirate Bay file-sharing site, where they have proved a popular download.

A British expert in 3-D printing and a ballistics expert separately warned that building a gun from the parts could be lethal to the user, because the physics involved in firing a bullet could put catastrophic stresses on the plastics used it its construction.

In the United Kingdom, where private gun ownership is strictly forbidden and patrolled -- two British newspapers are understood to have asked 3D printing companies to try to build the gun for them.

A journalist in the U.S. who downloaded the file found that companies with sufficient 3D printing capability refused to produce the device, citing laws against the production of such weapons.

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