The State Department isn’t too happy about Cody Wilson’s 3-D printed gun. In a letter to Wilson dated May 8, the department asked the University of Texas law student to take down 10 designs — including one for the first fully functional 3-D printed gun — from his website DEFCAD.org for possibly violating arms export statutes.
In response, Wilson said on Twitter that his website, which is dedicated to sharing 3-D printing blueprints for arms and arms accessories, will go dark. A banner at the top of the site currently reads: "DEFCAD files are being removed from public access at the request of the US Department of Defense Trade Controls. Until further notice, the United States government claims control of the information." (Never mind that the letter, embedded at the bottom of this post, is from the State Department, not the Pentagon.) As Wilson tweeted:
#DEFCAD is going dark at the request of the SOS Department of Defense Trade Controls. Some shapes are more dangerous than others.
— Cody R. Wilson (@Radomysisky) May 9, 2013
The department’s Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance is currently conducting a review of the plans posted to Wilson’s site. According to the letter, Wilson may be in violation of the Arms Export Control Act (the release of blueprints qualifies as exporting), and his site may have released technical information that is controlled by International Traffic in Arms Regulations. The letter informs Wilson that he also has to explain how his company, Defense Distributed, gained jurisdiction over the technical data for the weapons designs posted to the site.
The development represents a major setback for Wilson, who hoped the site would become a major hub for sharing weapons designs. But he doesn’t seem all that concerned. "I still think we win in the end," he told BetaBeat. "Because the files are all over the Internet, the Pirate Bay has it-to think this can be stopped in any meaningful way is to misunderstand what the future of distributive technologies is about."
Here’s the letter in full: