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After 100,000+ Downloads, Group With 3-D Gun Plans Goes Dark

The Liberator — a plastic handgun made with a 3-D printer.
Defense Distributed
The Liberator — a plastic handgun made with a 3-D printer.

Minutes ago, just as we were reading a Forbes story headlined "3D-Printed Gun's Blueprints Downloaded 100,000 Times In Two Days," this message appeared on the Twitter page of the group that has made those plans available to the world:

"#DEFCAD has gone dark at the request of the Department of Defense Trade Controls. Take it up with the Secretary of State."

The 3-D printed gun, as we've reported, has been successfully test-fired by Texas-based Defense Distributed. The thought of spreading the know-how to have a 3-D printer produce a firearm is unsettling to some, who worry about the technology getting into the wrong hands, but is liberating to others, who say that Americans should be able to build their own handguns that way (provided they can afford an $8,000 3-D printer).

After more than 100,000 downloads of the plans, of course, going "dark" at the request of the government (suspending such downloads) would seem to be closing the virtual barn long after many, many horses have gotten out.

We'll keep an eye out for what happens next.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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