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US Government Takes Down 3D Printed Gun Plans (on3dprinting.com)
113 points by on3dprinting on May 10, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 173 comments

What's going to be hilarious is when the NRA works against homemade guns because they don't actually represent gun owners but gun manufacturers and people finally start getting the point of lobbyists.

Going to get some popcorn and watch y'all fight each other over who gets to have the most toys to accidentally kill their friends and family with.

Yeah, right, 5 million people belong to the NRA because they represent the interests of others. (ADDED: including my father, my oldest nephew, my brothers and myself.)

No, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Shooting_Sports_Founda...) is the "national trade association for the firearms industry that is based in Newtown, Connecticut in the United States. Formed in 1961, the organization has more than 7,000 members: firearms manufacturers, distributors, retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen's clubs and media."

Here's the most recent thread where I brought this up: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5662183

Note also this comment of mine: "[...] no gun or ammo manufactures rather obviously means no guns and ammo for us to shoot. We've very interested in their health, we're in the same boat, attack them, you attack us. And the NSSF does quite a bit for gun owners in a whole range of areas including the political, although their focus is of course on the industry."

Can I just upvote the first line of your reply?

Surely you can appreciate that most of the world considers the American obsession with guns absurd :)

Most countries have strict gun laws and the people are fine with that. Banning 3D gun models is still stupid though, especially in a country with such high gun availability.

Shooting is an Olympic sport for God's sake, but of course Americans are ignorant violent idiots.

Hey, not counting Northern Ireland, handguns are banned in enlightened Great Britain and their pistol team and aspirants to it have to practice outside of the country: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_sport#Pistol

But there is a record. A printed 3D gun has no serial number or identification. Someone gets shot and killed with one, and there is no trace.

We don't have a national gun registry; there's no "trace" now.

And the vast majority of traces are mostly useless, either they lead to an already obvious source (including illegal straw purchases, but those are almost never prosecuted) or a theft.

And we find it absurd that after around a quarter billion disarmed people were killed by their own governments in the 20th century so many didn't learn anything from it.

Being from a country where owning a gun is frowned upon (we have uneducated citizens who blindly trust a government that has screwed over them for the past 70 years) and mostly illegal, I couldn't agree more. The idea that you should give governments monopoly over gun ownership only gives way for oppressive regimes to reign and makes civilians unable to protect themselves.

I hope whoever is a proponent of outlawing guns either has no idea what kind of tyranny that would enable or must be working for the government (whose best interests usually lie in maintaining their power and status quo).

Either way, I'm going to finish by saying you're lucky to have the second amendment.

Until 2008 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/District_of_Columbia_v._Heller), not really. Our betters read the 2nd Amendment out of the Constitution after our Civil War, couldn't have freedmen (former black slaves) legally keeping or bearing arms, could we? Followed by laws aimed at disfavored immigrant groups starting around 1900, followed by application of these laws to everyone and multiple spasms of nasty gun control, nationally and at the state and local level.

This didn't start reversing until 1986, through the political process, and it wouldn't have happened if we hadn't kept owning guns at such high rates; right now we're most feared because we vote on this issue to the exclusion of most others. E.g. the Democrats suffered a string of catastrophic defeats 1994-2000 that they correctly blamed on gun control, and mostly gave up on the issue until after Obama won reelection. E.g. compare the reaction to the Aurora, Colorado "Batman" movie theater mass shooting in June during the election to Newtown after, even allowing for the difference in the victims.

As of yet the 2 Supreme Court decisions and all or almost all of the subsequent lower court decisions have made almost no changes "on the ground". That may change real soon, Illinois has a June 9th deadline when their "no citizens who aren't politicians can carry" law goes poof, although they filed for an extension for filing an appeal with the Supreme Court and got it (http://onlygunsandmoney.blogspot.com/2013/05/supreme-court-g...), June 24th....

Of course, us gun owners always understood the clear meaning of the 2nd Amendment, and ultimately it means what serious men with guns say it does. Which would be us, we overwhelmingly outnumber gun grabbers and those who would follow them if they get too out of hand.

And very occasionally they have cause to think about the issues you cite, e.g. a few got a clue during Watergate; gun control was very hot back then, and the idea that Nixon might e.g. have the 82nd Airborne arrest the Congress prompted a few second thoughts.

> Going to get some popcorn and watch y'all fight each other over who gets to have the most toys to accidentally kill their friends and family with.

Yup, that's what these threads inevitably turn into. For some not-so-odd reason, they are really good at making opinionated people come out of the woodwork.

"because they don't actually represent gun owners but gun manufacturers"

And your evidence for this would be?

Be specific.

"While I am as impressed as anyone with 3-D printing technology and I believe it has amazing possibilities," said California state senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo), "we must ensure that it is not used for the wrong purpose with potentially deadly consequences. 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."

Why are even bay area politicians so completely dumb about tech. Why can't we get a Jared Polis?

Don't usually link to Reddit, but this is worthy of note. In a thread with 3600 comments and 3000+ upvotes was the following exchange:


  I'm sorry, I seem to have stumbled into bizarro-reddit. On 
  that other reddit they want to ban guns completely.

  No, what's happening is that the government just made 
  reddit choose between guns or the internet. Guess which 
  reddit chose?
The US government is run by people who just don't understand the internet.

"stop the manufacturing of guns that are invisible to metal detectors"

Hate to interject a fact here, but this is one of many reasons RKBA types don't respect gun grabbers: their gross ignorance, of which Yee is a choice example. There's already a Federal Undetectable Firearms Act (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Undetectable_Firearms_Act_of_19...):

"The Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 (Pub.L. 100–649, H.R. 4445, 102 Stat. 3816, enacted November 10, 1988) makes it illegal to manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, possess, transfer, or receive any firearm that is not detectable by walk-through metal detectors or has major components that do not generate an accurate image when subjected to inspection by airport x-ray machines."

ADDED: and I've read the design includes a metal insert to satisfy this law.

Because people vote for them. People like politicians that say words like "common sense measures" and "ensure public safety" while taking away rights and freedoms. Who needs those rights and freedoms anyway? Think of the children!

If you think Bay Area people smarter in this regard that any other people, you have to only look up what politicians are doing with budgets, local regulations, pensions, public welfare, public transportation, etc. around Bay Area and you'd see that knowing tech is not the only area politicians are failing.

What would be a better way to handle this situation?

(edit) I'm not saying that this is the best option. The government is tasked with ensuring public safety and this is an issue with major public safety repercussions. They cannot just sit and watch this unfold, and what this guy said is basically the most obvious way of dealing with the situation.

It is not. Nobody was threatened with this, nobody will ever be threatened with this. This thing is un-concealable and unusable as a real-life weapon in any public safety scenario. If you think anybody with this prototype can threaten public safety you are badly mistaken.

The idea that any time anything new happens the government should jump in and prohibit it until it is proven safe is exactly why politicians like this thrive. Instead, people should use their brains and let the government intervene only when actual threat is there, not theoretical lets-cover-our-asses invented threat is touted by politicians.

How is it not a threat to have guns that can go through metal detectors, which we use in all sorts of government and transportation locations to prevent shootings? Even if this particular prototype is bulky, clearly the technology will advance. The idea that we should only act when there is an "actual threat" when a threat is clearly on its way is absurd. Good government anticipates and prevents threats to public safety, while respecting of course its role and the rights of citizens.

That said, there is nothing the government can do to prevent individuals printing guns and distributing plans, and the first amendment concerns are real. They can make it difficult and unacceptable to profit or engage in commerce related to weapons manufacturing, much like child porn. Without laws, there will be weapons plans widely accessible and the technology will advance more rapidly.

Bombs can already go through metal detectors. There are knives that can go through metal detectors. There are hundreds of other things that can hurt you and go through metal detectors. Many of them aren't huge and one-time use. This thing is huge and is one-time use.

>>> The idea that we should only act when there is an "actual threat" when a threat is clearly on its way is absurd.

No, it is not absurd. Actually, for regular citizen it is the law - you can apply self-defense only when actual threat is clearly on its way. How comes the government - which is much more dangerous and prone to abuse than regular citizen, and can do much more harm if mistaken - is held to a lower standard and is allowed to violate the right of citizens on imaginary "threats" completely invented out of the blue? Where this right comes from - is it from fear or from belief government agents somehow so much more trustworthy than ordinary people and would never abuse their powers?

Bullets are metal.

> This thing is un-concealable and unusable as a real-life weapon in any public safety scenario

True. My worry is that this is just the v0.1 and it is the shape of things to come. Desktop CNC milling machines are also getting better rapidly and can make metal parts. ( http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/otherfab/the-othermill-c... ).

Designing this gun was clearly an asshole move, but how do you prohibit it now? Cory Doctrow said something along the lines of DRM is "allowing a general-purpose computer to run any program except for the ones that I don't like". (http://boingboing.net/2012/08/23/civilwar.html )

A 3d printer or cnc mill that can make anything "except for the shapes that I don't like" is equally laughable.

Designing this gun was clearly an asshole move

I, for one, welcome any asshole moves that make governments afraid of their citizens.

DefDist's Bitcoin: 1Gb5GNxrVGMT8e9uoJ8CmamrdVz9o8fAEa ( http://defdist.org/bitcoin/ )

This is so silly. If the country ever comes to the point where only you and your 3D printed gun stand between freedom and the government's tyranny, you'll just be obliterated by a Predator drone.

Advances in and proliferation of 3D guns will only endanger innocent citizens. Thinking that it's any kind of check on government power is a childish fantasy.

This is not the point. I'm looking at the bigger picture. At its current form the US government attempts to take away individual liberties from its citizens.

Guns are polarizing, but the same goes for the TSA/Security Theater, Online Privacy/Anonymity, and so on. What child pornography is for Internet censorship, terror threats for public security measures, are mass shootings for gun control.

It is a strategy of spotlighting extremely rare exceptions in order to justify the reduction of individual liberties on a large scale.

Therefore I am welcoming any attempts that balance the powergame - no matter how small they are. If you are going to develop an app that allows me encrypt all my mobile phone traffic you deserve the same level of applause as that guy who developed the gun.

This stupid argument is reiterated again and again and doesn't become less stupid. There are about 100 millions of gun owners in the country. Do you think any government can wage war with 100 million armed citizens, drones or not? Do you read newspapers, do you know how successful the war in any territory where the population is hostile, noncooperative and armed? Do you think US tried to find local allies in Afganistan and Iraq because they didn't think of using drones? Drones aren't some magic wand that makes you invincible, and no government can remain in place if 100 million armed people want it out, drones or not.

Buddy, if it ever comes to pass that fully 1/3 of the population rises up in armed rebellion against the government, equipped with the kind of military-grade weaponry and foreign backing that sustained the Afghan/Iraqi insurgencies, then the USA has become a dystopian warlord state and freedom and democracy are dead letters for the next dozen generations.

Get real. These kinds of justifications are just completely absurd fantasies, for people who want to picture themselves as the heroes of another "Red Dawn" remake.

So you acknowledge that the government can not rule over non-consenting armed population, yet call this idea "absurd".

>>> for people who want to picture themselves as the heroes of another "Red Dawn" remake.

Nobody wants it. But the option is there, and was there from the start. Just as no responsible person wants to kill other people, but if these people break into his house and threaten his life... And yes, this is an unrealistic scenario which never happens to vast majority of people. But if it does, some people want to be prepared. Given how many times defense against completely imaginary scenarios was brought in this topic, as justification for government doing anything, I don't see why this concept is so hard to understand when it's not the government that is doing it.

> So you acknowledge that the government can not rule over non-consenting armed population

Unarmed non-consenting populations can and have brought down governments. e.g. in Egypt and in the Czech republic. But if the government is determined not to let go at any cost at all, side-arms won't help you against a decent army. Protesters with guns is nothing more than a good excuse to send in the tanks/drone strikes/etc.

So the presence or absence of civilian guns are not the issue that you make them out to be.

>>> Unarmed non-consenting populations can and have brought down governments. e.g. in Egypt

In Egypt, the power was actually taken by the military after Mubarak has resigned. If the military had supported Mubarak, you can look in Libya and Syria how it would play out.

>>> side-arms won't help you against a decent army

Depends what you mean by "help". You can destroy a city with a bomber, but you can not actually govern the city with a bomber.

>>>> So the presence or absence of civilian guns are not the issue that you make them out to be.

It is. If the population is disarmed, the only force who decides if the government is to survive or not is the military. It's good if the military is on your side, if it's not you're in for a long and unpleasant ride.

> It is. If the population is disarmed, the only force who decides if the government is to survive or not is the military.

What I and others are saying above is that with handguns in the population, the situation is much the same.

The modern experience teaches us that it is very hard to subdue and keep under control a noncompliant and armed population, even if the army has vastly more powerful arms.

Which modern experience would that be? Citation needed.

Are you familiar with the concept known as an insurance policy?

You really ought to read about the namesake of this gun: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FP-45_Liberator

If it comes to that, it's merely a tool to get better guns.

Interesting link, thanks.

"General Eisenhower's staff never saw the practicality". And I don't either.

Perhaps all of the above are lacking in imagination---and/or the staffs didn't want masses of soon to be liberated people to be armed. Since mass distribution would have consumed precious air transport/bomber resources, we don't know if their tradeoff was correct. The one thing we can say is that the proposition was not put to the test.

A typically and uniquely American response. The main problem that you have now is that your citizens are afraid of each other's sidearms. The government, not so much.

> My worry is that this is just the v0.1 and it is the shape of things to come

I don't see how 3D printers will be able to make undetectable bullets. There are not many ways to do a bullet that doesn't involve metals. Maybe a two-stage self-propelled plastic bullet could do the trick.

> I don't see how 3D printers will be able to make undetectable bullets

They can't, and I didn't think that was implied. I think it was assumed that bullets would come from the usual sources.

Still, a CNC mill could probably fashion bullets (not undetectable ones) and their casings from metal. Explosives required are still a problem, so you'd probably be better off not doing this.

I'm guessing that one can carry it through the airport security easily enough. It's not that it's printed, it's the fact that it's printed in plastic.

Have you been to any US airport recently? These guys grab my freaking nuts and touch me in places that usually only myself and my wife are allowed to access. And you say it'd be easy to get through them a piece of a size of a large brick without them noticing? Do you know what mayhem an explosive of a similar volume could create? Something does not add up here with your theory.

You put it in a bag, obviously.

As a bonus, you redesign it into larger number of smaller pieces and spread them over several bags.

You can stick your head in a sand as much as you want, but this is a game-changing development. If one can print a working gun, one can conceivably print other interesting things that to date were assumed to only exist in metal, the assumption that was the foundation of respective detection technology. The assumption that is no longer valid.

How many other things would it be possible to print? I do think you are right about it being a game-changing development, but at this moment I don't think there is a lot of threat from it. I think for the next couple of years, we can assume that respective detection technology will be fine.

You put it in a bag, obviously.

You mean the bag that goes through an X-Ray scanner which detects high density objects?

Indeed, the same bag that is mysteriously devoid of valuables after it has arrived at its destination.

Are you kidding? Airport security breaches are so commonplace that they don't always merit news coverage anymore. Here, another TSA pen-test failure. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/08/us-usa-security-ai...

These are just the ones we hear about, and don't include incidences of undetected contraband carried by passengers, unwittingly and intentionally.

So the argument is that since you already can bring a real bomb into the airport, creating one-shot un-concealable weapon that is useless in any practical scenario is a huge security threat requiring the government to ignore both 1st and 2nd amendment because of it? Could you expand this argument a little more, I don't see how exactly it plays out.

Check out its namesake: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FP-45_Liberator

There have been plenty of "practical scenarios" where access to very minimal handguns has been used to gain access to more. E.g. handguns were quite significant in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

And its certainly concealable; a bit thick for my tastes, but otherwise almost every time I walk out the door I'm carrying concealed a 4" barrel standard length magazine M1911, which is not a whole lot different in the other dimensions, and plenty of people are able to conceal revolvers with thick cylinders or semi-auto handguns with double stack magazines.

Have you ever personally carried concealed?

You can use bare hands to gain access to handguns. Just surprise any armed person, hit him over the head with anything massive (or just with your bare hands if you're strong enough) and take his weapon. If you have a couple of accomplices you don't even have to be that strong - 2-3 reasonable strong men can hold a person down long enough to take his/her personal weapon, which is usually readily accessible. What plastic gun changes here? The idea of the FP-45 gun wasn't of course to be battlefield weapon - it was to convert unarmed population into armed and dangerous one. In the US, it doesn't change anything as whoever wants to be armed already is armed.

>>> Have you ever personally carried concealed?

No I have not, but from the dimensions of this one I don't see how you can reasonably keep it concealed on your person without people trained at detecting concealed things easily noticing it. You could of course disassemble it and hope nobody figures it out, but it's nothing new. If you don't need the weapon to survive more than a single shot, there are a lot of things that can be converted to a gun.

My argument is that airport security is useless and ineffective. I said nothing about the gov't enacting even more bad legislation on top of the already bad response to the "terrorism threat".

How do you transport the bullets?

That's a different issue. Smuggling a small bullet past any security has got to be way easier than an entire gun.

Apart from the fact they're metal. I don't think (but I could be wrong) that a design for a plastic bullet has been perfected.

Useful bullets are dense. X-rays, essentially, scatter off density. Building a useful bullet that's relatively transparent to X-rays may be an impossibility.

Rubber bullets have killed people before, and I reckon rubber bullets would be as deadly as any other at close range.

Good point, and a blank is deadly at contact range. And the gun is aptly named after the WWII Liberator: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FP-45_Liberator

The objective of such crude and limited guns is to enable you to procure better ones, although of course this one is also an initial proof of concept, plus I gather intended to work though such issues as this takedown (I've read the guy or people behind this believe they've jumped through the required hoops to allow Internet publication).

Although I'll note conventional ammo needs a metal case; there has been work on caseless ammo but it's not gotten beyond R&D, the G11 probably went the furthest: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heckler_%26_Koch_G11.

But you can't fire a rubber bullet from a plastic gun. That gun as designed needs a propellant (cordite/gunpowder) to fire the metal slug at the end. And if you need a propellant, you can't use a plastic cartridge case.

If you have a plastic "thing" firing a rubber projectile using a plastic spring or similar, then it is more like a crossbow than an actual gun.

Why not? I bet I could cast the charge out of an explosive resin.

You sound like a tea party Republican. Of course the government has to jump in when a 3D gun is being printed, whether it's safe or not!

He does sound quite sane on how the US government should act. Too, bad they spend so much time on theater as opposed to actual risks (heart disease, cancer, public debt, etc.).

I agree, but 11,000 people dying a year sounds like an actual threat/risk to me. Your list can be modified to: heart disease, cancer, public debt, guns, etc.

The number of people killed in violent crimes by guns in the US is continuing to trend down. This is via the CDC. Why screw with that?

Second, the US government does not have to the money or constitutional authority to "fix" all things. It has a budget and income which should start to match.

11,000 people taken over the whole US is not much of a risk. If you look at the CDC stats, it is very far down on a long list.

"Why screw with that?"

Exactly. This period of decreasing violent crime is correlated with a massive, near nationwide relaxation of gun controls that go back to the post-Civil war period. Correlation does not suggest let alone prove causation, but desiring a reversal in a trend that correlates with what in theory is your objective should give one pause.

There are couple of things that suggest correlation: Chicago and DC.

I wonder if you realise city-wide laws don't matter: you can drive 30 minutes from DC in Virginia and get a rifle...

Do you actually believe this? This makes me laugh... I think we need a psychological study to see what is this filthy obsession with guns people have here in the US.

Do you deny either of the facts cited?

The crime decrease was extensively discussed here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5674263

The most visible and perhaps biggest of the relaxations of gun control is the nationwide sweep of shall issue concealed carry regimes, now around 42 states and 2/3rds of the population, see this for more details: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concealed_carry_in_the_United_S...; the recovery through political means of the fundimental right to bear arms is no small thing. You may laugh about my "filthy obsession", but the facts on the ground are that every time I exit my residence, I can carry a concealed handgun, and almost every time I do. That wasn't true here in my home state before 2004.

As for a study, not only are there plenty, but since you've made up your mind, for what purposes do you desire one?

I can show you 10 studies to counter each study you just posted, so all these "studies" are useless. At the end of the day, 11,000 people are dying in the US per year vs. only tens or hundreds in other countries where they have proper gun laws. I know the US population is higher, so let's take it by ratio: the rate per 100,000 population per year in the US is 10.20. The US ranks 57 in the world. In the UK, the rate is 0.25, and they rank 5. Japan ranks 1st with a rate of 0.07. It doesn't look like you care about ranking high with the rest of the civil societies in the world. I frankly couldn't care less about the "right to bear arms". A right made in the 1700's when militias were there to fight the British. You don't realise we're 300 years ahead now, do you?

And yes, I did make up my mind a long time ago. I simply can't wrap my head around two things: guns & death penalty. To me, these are primitive issues that if we're really a civil society, we really shouldn't be discussing them in 2013.

I think we should end the argument. A HN discussion will not stop you from carrying a concealed weapon, nor will it alter my views.

"Facts are stubborn things", and I was quoting facts, not "studies" in the sense of the word as we've been using it. E.g. the fatality data comes from the CDC, and the sources are, per http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars/fatal/help/faq.htm#Where:

"Where does WISQARS get its data?

"Death data come from a national mortality database compiled by CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. This database contains information from death certificates filed in state vital-statistics offices and includes causes of death reported by attending physicians, medical examiners, and coroners. It also includes demographic information about decedents reported by funeral directors, who obtain that information from family members and other informants. Population data come from the Bureau of the Census. These data are based on information gathered in censuses and on estimation procedures conducted in non-census years."

Similarly, it is a hard fact, based on legislation enacted, that shall issue concealed carry has swept the nation 1987 (Florida) to 2011 (Wisconsin and Iowa).

That you dismiss these as "studies" is about as disturbing as you dismissing the rule of law, which after all is the only thing that stands between you and the barbarians....

I believe it. I also have a cousin who is only alive because he had a gun (wild dogs[1]). I think we need a psychological study to see what is this filthy obsession with authority figures anti-gun folks seem to have.

1) Once again, if you don't want the dog, drop it off at a no-kill shelter - not out in the country. Dogs will turn feral, group up, and try to kill livestock and people. Life isn't a fairy tale.


"LA pit bull attack shows savage consequences of citizen disarmament"

"What this means is, top LA law enforcement knows perfectly well that savage beasts are preying on peaceable citizens, they are unable to stop it from happening, they know what will give those being attacked a fighting chance, and they deny them that option under force of state arms. Through their mandates, they confirm that they would rather see a 63-year-old woman mauled to death, ripped apart in the most horrible, agonizing and terrifying way conceivable, than simply have the choice to the means of defense."

Reconciling themselves to the inevitable, perhaps? That is too much to expect from any government, however.

Elaborate, please. In practical terms.

  A month from now here are the measures in place to 
  reduce the public safety risk of this development: 

  *write here*

Here you go:

A month from now here are the measures in place to reduce the public safety risk of this development:

None needed.

Oh, he's savvy on tech. Just not the way you want him to be.

Leland Yee is a heavy, outspoken critic of the ESRB and was one of the most vocal politicians during the "Hot Coffee" debacle. Not a fan of video games.

Are you saying he's dumb for wanting to restrict gun fabrication , or dumb for thinking that legislation will work when the information is already on the net?

Can I have both please?

"I will ensure we stamp out and remove those things that we can't detect that can be made with off-the-shelf goods."

Uh huh.

People do realise that improvised firearms are actually nothing new right? They've been around for ages - indeed 3D printed versions are vastly inferior to their machine shop counter parts which have been used quite effectively in the past for various political and gang related assassinations.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Improvised_firearm

They should probably ban flash lights as well.

But that's not the same. Printing a 3D gun is relatively easy: download the design, print it, and that's it (more or less). With an improvised firearm, you have to search the design, get the materials, build it, and unless you're experienced the gun probably won't work.

For me, it's like saying "we should not control gunpowder sales because you can make gunpowder at home". Silly example, I know, but you get my point.

You realize you just described the same process twice, only in different terms to appeal to different emotions?

It's not like 3d-printed gun does not require design, does not need materials, does not require assembly and is guaranteed to work.

And yes, controlling sale of basic chemicals on the premise that this somehow prevents criminals from using them for their nefarious goals is silly. The US government does it right now with drugs and it is failing spectacularly, only guys they make trouble to are amateur chemists that have nothing to do with drugs. Same will happen with guns.

You don't have to understand the design of the printed gun. You don't need to search materials apart from the big block of plastic to print and the percutor needle. The difficulty level is completely different.

And I didn't say that I'm for controlled sale of basic chemicals. I said that the idea of not controlling 3d-printer gun designs because "you can also make your gun at home" is silly.

What I don't understand from you (and most anti-3D-printed-guns) is why you think it should be controlled in the first place?

Even if you somehow found a compelling argument, the kind of control you're asking for is impossible. It's like trying to stop piracy with DRM: you're gonna piss off users and someone is just going to break your "controlled environment" in the end.

But you'll still stop _most instances_ of would-be piracy - the 14-year-old kids hanging out at a park, unable to _easily_ send a movie from one smartphone to another. Not impossible - just hard enough to not bother.

You can't absolutely stop 3D printing of dangerous artifacts. But you can lower the appeal by increasing penalties, requiring the party to take more steps to avoid being caught, attaching a strong social stigma to the practice.

It's physically impossible to keep someone from barreing their car at 80mph down the wring side of the highway into oncoming traffic, but this is one among countless potential potential disasters we almost never see in practice. It is worth considering why such things happen as rarely as they do.

>>>> But you'll still stop _most instances_ of would-be piracy

Really? Is it how it is working out? Last time I looked all those DRM-ed things were still available easily - together with cracks.

>>> But you can lower the appeal by increasing penalties

Really? Is it how it is working out? I remember we have increased penalties for drug offenses, which completely eradicated drugs from the market. Oh wait, it didn't, it is actually worse than ever and increased penalties mostly hurt innocent people with no criminal intent or criminal past, routing them into the vast prison industry.

>>> but this is one among countless potential potential disasters we almost never see in practice.

As opposed to mass shootings with a 3d-printed plastic guns, which we see in practice every day, right? It is fascinating how common sense can be compartmentalized so neatly - here you can distinguish imaginary threat from real one, and here you completely can't.

>>> It is worth considering why such things happen as rarely as they do.

But it's much more worth considering why some things that never happen is OK but some things that never happen require immediate government action and give exception from all the Constitution.

It is difficult to measure counterfactuals, but I strongly suspect that the rate of piracy is much lower than it otherwise would be. Everything you say regarding availability is accurate - but consider, for example, the difference in piracy rates between console and PC games. There _are_ cracked versions of console games, but they are much less widespread because using them is much, much more difficult.

I am not happy that DRM appears to be effective - I would much rather that not be the case - but it does appear to significantly reduce the level of piracy from what it would otherwise be.

You are correct to note the absence of printed-gun crimes. The technology is young, the printers are not widespread, and the initial designs are likely far short of what is possible. As accessibility, knowledge, and affordability increase, I expect those crimes to start occurring. I further expect that the rate of those crimes will be lower with federal intervention than without. I really hope I'm wrong about that, too.

Most of the crimes always were, are and will be committed with most readily available means. This is why in most violent crimes, the weapons used are fists, knives, clubs and alike, and regular common handguns. One needs to either have very special circumstances or very special state of mind to choose to commit a crime with such very exotic weapon as 3d-printed gun. It's like choosing to shoot somebody with 15-century longbow - possible, but who really would do it? Of course, among 300+ mln people sooner or latter there would be some weird people that do that, however I highly doubt banning those files would stop them either from committing the crime and from committing the crime with this specific weapon if they already decided to do it.

"Exotic" is a function of time, familiarity, price, and rarity. There was a time when Internet pornography was exotic, and there will come a time when printed weapons aren't. Notice, too, the degree to which the Internet vastly expanded the audience and variety of pornography available. The analogous process with something less innocuous, like weapons, is not a cheering thought.

    It's physically impossible to keep someone from 
    barreing their car at 80mph down the wring side of
    the highway
Not really. Government mandated speed governor in every car, limited to 55 mph.

You're right, of course.


Did you mean "practically" or "politically"?

Because, while it does not cover the "wrong way down a highway" part of your scenario, such a law would certainly save lives. High speed is a significant contributor to fatal car accidents.

The EU already has such a law for large trucks.

I'm not at all sure about this. Very possibly for cargo carrying trucks, they have different design tradeoffs.

But as I understand it, "high speed" WRT to accidents starts at about 35 mph, which is a speed at which, if you come to an immediate stop, wearing the normal shoulder and waist belts, your head will hit the steering wheel with enough force to cause serious injury, unless an airbag prevents it.

Any reasonable governor is going to be way above that. According to a [citation needed] Wikipedia item (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Governor_(device)#Trucks_.28HGV...), the EU governor speed is 90 or 100 kph, 56 or 62 mph, which sounds plausable. This http://www.usroads.com/journals/aruj/9803/ru980302.htm indicates those speeds are quite lethal.

Keeping people driving for longer periods of time is also going to cost lives....

Yes, I meant commercial cargo trucks.

I think that 3D-printed-guns should be controlled because, even when I'd like to think that everybody is responsible and there isn't need for control, I know there are dumb or bad people who can harm themselves and others using this. I think that every gun (3D printed or not) should be controlled because of that same reason.

Now, how can we control it? I don't really know. I'm not for DRM. I'm not for controlling 3D printers, or 3D materials. And making an automated system so 3D printers don't print guns is infeasible, error-prone and a hassle. Maybe the best alternative is leaving those 3D printed guns uncontrolled, because any other option is ineffective.

The fact that 3D printed guns control is infeasible doesn't mean that leaving them uncontrolled is a good idea.

>The fact that 3D printed guns control is infeasible doesn't mean that leaving them uncontrolled is a good idea.

Actually, that is exactly what it means. Infeasibility is a good place to stop, as it means that what you are doing is not reasonably possible.

I think there was some semantic mismatch here. The fact that something is infeasible means that it should not be the option selected. The fact that something is infeasable says nothing about whether it would be desirable granted feasibility. I am fairly confident you and the parent comment's author agree on both these points.

I don't agree. Something impossible can be a good idea, i.e.

"The fact that inmortality is infeasible doesn't mean that dying is a good idea".

"Folks, lets have us a book burnin!" said Obama. Fortunately, it's not 1960 and the information they seek to control is already out and cannot be controlled. The fact that the government would even bother taking it down in an era of torrent networks exemplifies their extreme ignorance of the world we live in.

Wow, this is unbelieveable...

I didn't realize they had this power, or that they'd exercise it like that... it's just scary to think that the internet is not as free or open as it feels or appears.

This is nothing new, only the newly digitized weapon de jour is changing. Remember back in the nineties when exporting encryption was the hot topic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pretty_Good_Privacy#Criminal_in...

The only actual difference being that cryptography never killed anyone...

You don't have to kill someone in line of sight with it to argue that a technology is a vital military asset. Nor has it to be its sole purpose.

PS: Obligatory Enigma reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultra

PPS: I'm not saying encryption should regulated by the government.

How many people were killed by a CAD file?

And neither has a plastic gun.

it saved lives probably, can't have that, verboten.

Typically they only have the power until a court intervenes. What they do is rely on the fact that many sites they take down or information they have removed stay that way as the operators cannot afford to the court costs. That and they will rely at times on public sympathy by using known "concerned groups" who are nothing more than fronts for various politicians.

Was it on a .com domain? Because they've had the power to take those down for a few years now.

I found it on a certain .nz domain[1], the owner of which (who, oddly enough, renamed himself after the TLD you mention) is currently thumbing his nose at the USG[2].

[1] https://mega.co.nz/#!JplQVDDQ!Qi8kflIn8kMZl0hK96YW1h7RIc9vz2...

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Dotcom

Certainly the silencer design is done by a friend of mine who lives in NZ who already avoids going to the US so I suspect that will stay up for a very long time.

magnet:?xt=urn:btih:0ad7b4f1833e01a3f2fa5613d8fc46de622339ac&dn=DefDist+Defcad+Liberator+Printable+Gun for download.

To view it, download Blender (free and opensource 3d software)- http://download.blender.org/ (it allows you to import stl files if you want to view them; or export them from your designs when you want to 3d-print something).

Also, Github has in-browser STL rendering capability (e.g.: https://github.com/lorennorman/octocat-3d/blob/master/stl/oc... ). It's only a matter of time I guess before we'll all be seeing direct links to individual components.

I thought the government would understand The Streisand Effect by now.

Yep I really think that the printed gun is lame, but now that it is forbidden I want that file! Just for the sake of being able to get it. I don't own a 3d printer yet, and I would never fire from a plastic barrel, ever (unless plastic technology changes quite a lot, which is probable)

From here it looks like in two years it will be completely possible to arm thousands of people on a large demonstration without law enforcement being able to step in. It might add some weight to peoples' opinion on CISPA, INDECT and other fascist inventions as they walk towards the parliament. And that's talking about first world.

Remember Athens, Egypt? Try imagining it a few years from now. People will have affordable real-time mesh communication networks, high quality urban mapping, printed guns and home-made explosives. How exactly would you suppress crowd like that? I say with understanding and empathy, because anything else will hurt.

"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."

Meanwhile, I grabbed it off TPB and, judging by the number of seeds, was hardly the first to think of doing so. Why the USG thinks it can put the cat back in the bag is beyond me.

they're adding hurdles, the more friction involved in the process the lower the conversion rate for the amount of people who will have the template.

Except that's not how it works with this. They've now incentivised a lot of people who'd never, ever care to download it just because it's been taken down, and brought massively more attention to it.

The government's stated reason for taking it down is that making weapons technology available for international download via the internet requires an ITAR license [1]. If he had simply blocked international IP addresses from downloading it, it would not have fallen under the powers of the State Department. I've had to even do ITAR licensing on portable half-racks of off the shelf Dell servers.

It's a pain, but it is what it is.

1 - http://pmddtc.state.gov/regulations_laws/itar_official.html

First admentment triumphs ITAR, that is why you can export crypto programs.

Nope, public safety trumps free speech.

You don't have to register with the State Department anymore and it's been loosened up a bit, but you still have to register with Commerce now and there's still restrictions.


Here's a nice article summarizing the current status


(not that I disagree with you in principle, just that the reality is not so cut and dry)

My understanding was you can export crypto programs by executive order, not a court decision, which means not any kind of a clear determination of what trumps what...

I just downloaded it from Hungary.

ITAR is moronic.

> ITAR is moronic.

No disagreements here.

This makes me wonder what kind of regulations the 3d printing industry will face. It makes me wonder if 3d printer software might be forced to not print pieces it recognizes as a gun similar to how ink printers won't print images of money. Or some other restrictions on printing It seems unlikely that the government will be happy with people printing anything they want.

The problem is the range of projects aimed at making 3D-printers that can replicate the parts for itself. Any restrictions will see people designing plans for innocent looking components that can be used to assemble a restriction-free 3D-printer. It's a losing proposition to try to restrict this. They may succeed at delaying widescale adoption for a while, but not much more.

People will just hack the firmware as with every device ever made. They'll have to make it a crime to use a 3D printer with the intent of creating a firearm, but who's going to give a shit?

One possibility I haven't seen mentioned here:

1. Government does actually know how the Internet works

2. Makes this attempt, knows it will fail

3. Waits until somebody blows themselves - or somebody else - up with a poorly made, 3D printed gun

4. Government points to failed attempt, argues it does not have the necessary power it needs to prevent these tragedies

5. Government passes bill expanding its power

6. Rinse, repeat

Of course my use of "government" here incorrectly suggests a single entity with a plan. Obviously it does really work that way, but bureaucracies sometimes remind me of organisms with memories, immune systems and, above all, a desire to grow.

It's just data. Good luck vacuuming it up from every crack of the Internet.

They're on The Pirate Bay from what I understand, so its a little too late for that now...

Streisand Effect powers, ACTIVATE!








I don't have a 3D printer, and really, really don't care whether or not you can print a gun using one. But try to censor information about it, and I'll mirror it on my seedbox for as long as I can, just to piss you off.

They can't stop the signal.

And you thought that the MPAA tracking torrents was bad... now not only are you seeding potential copyright infringement (I don't know what the license actually is), but you might now also be circumventing arms control laws. That is a whole level of legal hurt that I'd rather avoid.

You might not be able to stop the signal, but I'm pretty sure Mr. Universe still died at the end of Serenity.


That file didn't exist in 1995, but if it had, distributing it outside the US would also have run afoul of arms control laws.

Technology changes, and laws change with it. The laws, almost without exception, lag several years behind the technology.

Yeah, but that was for encryption. Encryption of today would have been unbreakable in 95. This is for... you know... actual arms.

So, really, the law makes more sense here.

the items that DD designed are all open source designs, so the likelyhood of copyright infringement is ... minimal.

In particular,


If your goal is to stop the spread of the data, perhaps... but if you are caught with one of these guns now, you might also be prosecuted under arms control/export laws.

I believe it's legal to manufacture guns (that would normally be legal) for personal use in the United States without any permit or license or anything.

Also they're not saying the data is illegal, it just may be illegal to "export".

Yes, but if you use these instructions, which they've limited the distribution of, you'd be hard pressed to explain where you got them from.

ATF agent: Oh, you got that from a torrent? Did you also seed the file?

You can see where this is going, and it doesn't have a happy ending.

If you do make one of these though, for the love of God embed a chunk of metal. These things wouldn't be legal without it (metal detectors).

>>>> you'd be hard pressed to explain where you got them from.

Why you have to explain anything? As far as I know, you do not owe anybody to prove that you possess anything you have legally, if they suspect it is illegal they have to prove it.

A firing pin?

The "Liberator" instructions describe printing the frame of the gun first and epoxying 6oz of steel inside it to make it detectable by a walk-through metal detector, to be compliant with The Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988. Once this part is complete, the rest of the firearm can be manufactured without violating that particular law.

There seems to be a lot of assumption that the govt is somehow misunderstanding technology or the internet. I doubt they expect to prevent the distribution of those files, or that they even care about the printed gun - as others have said, it's not really anything new as there are existing ways to make one.

What they probably do care about is Cody Wilson trying to build up some sort of cult around 3d weapon printing. He's spent quite a bit of effort trying to provoke the government and prove he can't be stopped. Seems he was wrong.

while I think cody is a repulsive regressive snot, I would risk my life to defend his words. I feel his files are his words.

As for cults, the USG just played directly into Cody's hands... the files have now spread father and wider than if the USG had just ignored them in the first place.

I suddenly have an urge to make one that I never had before...

I downloaded the file. I was curious to look at it and I am not all that impressed. It isn't amazing mechanical engineering. And I have a shotgun I bought a block from my house for 99 bucks and there was one page of paperwork and I used a expired ID card to buy it. It isn't hard to get a gun.

I'm actually pretty excited about the plastic gun thing. It is way less fingers that can pull the trigger on guns that are already really easy to get.

Edit: I should that I am for really strict gun laws. My father was killed by a gun that was bought in a pawn shop so if you even save a few people a year it is worth it.

Unless I'm missing something, you will still need to purchase ammo to use in your 3D-printed gun, or else it will be useless. Are the sales of ammunition in the US completely unregulated?

When I worked at a place that sold ammo as far as I can remember we didn't have to track anything special. Guns had all kinds of tracking and restrictions, magazine sizes had restriction (for at least 5 states) but ammo seemed to be just fine. Since it was an internet store most of the orders were CC but even then we'd have the address we shipped to but it isn't like the ATF came in and asked about ammo. They would ask about the guns and make sure we were compliant there.

I get the nagging feeling that I had heard of some sort of tracking before but I can't recall any detail to search on. For all I know it might have just been a rumor and that increased our sales and that's what I heard.

Wal-Mart limits sales per customer per day[1].


As the article indicates, Wal-Mart's limits are only due to the severe, we've never seen anything like it before, post-Newton ammo shortage. My other comment in this subthread addresses the existing limits as I know them.

Almost. Federal law has age limits, 18 except for 21 for handgun ammo. Mail order is entirely unregulated except of course requiring an ORD-M sticker and ground shipment.

Some states have regulations, from one outfit I buy from they would be California, Delaware, D.C., Illinois, Massachusetts, New York and Ohio, they warn you to check your state's laws before buying. Which leaves out a few of the worst states like New Jersey and includes one mostly OK state, Ohio (worst thing about it, unique in the nation, is that in a self-defense case the burden of proof is on you, but it otherwise has shall issue CCW et. al.).

$100 to the first person that can encode the plans on a t-shirt (but you have to send me a shirt)

A QR code can store 2,953 bytes. If you were just encoding compressed vertex data it might be enough (depending on the complexity of the model - I haven't seen it myself).

Assuming your size is XXL and can read the fine print


Does a tinyurl link to a torrent count?

"In Canada, it is legal to download the instructions, but there is a question of whether Canadians can legally print the components."

(from http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2013/05/09/technolog... )

That's not especially significant in itself either, only somewhat reassuring for any Canuckois out there wishing to download the models.


The letter references a number of items besides the printable gun, including "125mm BK-14M high-explosive anti-tank warhead" Which sounds rather closer to matching the intent of the munitions export regulations.

It's just another file on the defcad site, usual government confusion around files hosted on the internet.

You can pick up most of what you need to know about anti-tank warheads from a Tom Clancy book, or any library book about shaped charges.

For most people an anti-tank warhead is going to be useless in the context of how to disable a tank.

Or just surf to the Wikipedia if you are too lazy to go the library. Example:


Of course, perusing the above link, it would seem the main limitation on proliferation is chemical synthesis of the HE, not 3D printing technology.

Can you expand on your last sentence?

You need a way to deliver the warhead perpendicular to armour plate of the tank with sufficient force to disable the various safeties. If you don't accomplish all those things then the shaped charge will do virtually nothing to the armour plate.

As far as I know it's difficult to 3D print 88mm cannons.

+1 for the Tom Clancy reference.

Do you really think you can have functioning anti-tank warhead 3d-printed out of plastic?

Keep in mind, ITAR and AECA regulations are concerned with export weapons and weapons systems to non-US entities. The munitions list (USML) includes everything from guns to airplanes. The regulations themselves go well beyond physical assets and include related software, documentation and design drawings. It is likely DEFCAD, if they survive any fines, could reopen if they can somehow verify the downloader does not require an export license.

This is the same set of regulations Robert Gates famously complained[1] restricted the export of F16 spare parts from the US. This platforms has been widely exported and this regulation applies to non-weapons related components i.e., canopy latches, flaps, etc.

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/21/world/21export.html?_r=0

right... so you're not allowed to download the plans for a gun, but you are allowed to buy a rifle for a 5 year old. For me, it seems this is just someone trying to protect their income.

Only parents can judge when children are mature enough to wield guns, and obviously some will get it wrong. My father started directly teaching me how to shoot when I was around 6. At 3, he would start taking me and later my siblings with him when he went hunting, so he started teaching by example at that age.

His guns were never locked up, our parents "gun proofed" us, taught us about danger and responsibility. They're from the Silent Generation, it was assumed back then. Heck, my father and many of his classmates would store their hunting guns in their school lockers so they wouldn't have to go back home before hunting after school.

(Parts of) weapons is just the beginning. After the Music and Film industry, will we now see the manufacturing industry go after individuals sharing 3D maps of 'their' content?

Looks like I wasn't far off... https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5661443

There is some chance that these guys will be killed by guns of their own design. Possibly a cool attempt to get the Darwin award.

That letter is surprisingly polite.

Yeah, also when the suspect is taken into the police car, they ensure he doesn't bump his head on the roof, I've seen it. Doesn't change the fact he's taken into custody, though.

I live in the U.S. and I am raising an eyebrow at this. For the rest of the world, I understand the need for this, but the easy access to guns we already have in the states would make it skeptical on why you would want one of these. I guess it would be for curiosity for some, but I would rather stick to my AK and shoot thousands of rounds reliably. I am a firm believer of "to each their own" so if people want to make these, I am all for it. If they blow up their face in the process of shooting, oh well. In a different perspective, I would rather build a gun with my hands as I am a firm believer of do it yourself.

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