The day 5th March 2013 witnessed an unusual incident when software and illustrative files were uploaded by Defense Distributed which is based in Austin and is a non-profit organization. This uploaded information epitomized the conception of a completely operational 3D Printed plastic gun, named as “The Liberator”.
As stated by the Forbes magazine, there were in all sixteen prototypes of the Liberator. All these pieces were 3D printed using ABS plastic and Stratasys’s Dimension SST printer. The use of a nail to be implemented as a firing pin was the only exception to all the parts that were 3D Printed. This gun was designed to fire rounds of a regular handgun, wherein different calibers can make use of exchangeable barrels.
The internet went crazy and there were thousands of opinions and views directed towards the founder of Defense Distributed, Cody Wilson who designed this 3D Printed gun. Intriguing, yet somewhat unrealistic were the words that come up when we think about the fact that one can now have own gun designed and printed at the comfort of own house. After the initial release of these plans, there were more than 100,000 downloads in the first few days, as claimed by Wilson.
Although this proved to be another development in the field of technology, the State Department’s demand to withdraw the files on the internet proved to be a major step towards making this action cause too much of disruption in the society. This gun had a metal part which rendered it tractable with one of the US gun-detection law. In addition to this, the State Department confounded that the information mentioned on the internet by Defense Distributed violated the Arms Export Control Act simultaneously disregarding the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), thus bestowing this whole activity illegal. Wilson was then asked to delete these files until he got the approval for different parts of the gun. Even if he erased the files, he registered a lawsuit against the State Department by collaborating with Second Amendment Foundation which is a gun-rights organization. It was requested by them to avail an initial decree to continue the release of Liberator information online, which was declined by the Western District of Texas where the request was filed. Following this, Defense Distributed implored this directive to the 5th Federal Court, which was again abjured by this court. After further beseeching of this accord by the Defense Distributed to the US Supreme Court, the arguments related to this case were also denied by the Supreme Court on 8th January 2018 stating the decision put by the 5th circuit court. Even if this was disheartening for Defense Distributed who actually aimed to provide this world a reliant way to get their own firearms, this, in fact, reflected that justice and human welfare triumphed over the need for technological advancement.
However, on 8th July 2018, the society started questioning the government’s stand and interests in public welfare when Defense Distributed and the Second Amendment Foundation declared that they have agreed to a settlement deal between them and the State Department. This compliance will make it legal for Defense Distributed to post various designs related to 3D Printed guns on the internet. As an element of this agreement, a letter will be issued by the State Department by July 27, 2018, which will distinctively assert that these 3D Printed designs are not bound to ITAR rules. Also, with this agreement, there will be the unrestricted release of Published Files, CAD files, and various Ghost Gunner Files for the public. The publishing of the designs concerned with automatic firearms which are about .50-caliber, not excluding the AR-15 semi-automatic rifles, were agreed upon during the settlement. With the validation of this agreement, it was gladly announced by the Defense Distributed that this is the beginning of the era of downloadable functional guns.
Although all these attempts and progress proved to be quite encouraging and has set a new standard for today’s technological advancement, the ordain taken to elucidate this case has become a matter of concern for the gun-control counsel. They said that this step will make it facile for the terrorists, felons, and other social offenders to acquire firearms without the need of any serial number or any background check. Was this necessary, even after a long gap of four years when the files were deleted from the internet? With this, the whole scenario took a complete spin. Backed up by an unrestricted authority and among-st esteemed gatherings, one can vehemently design a gun.
What is more shameful and outrageous is that the State Department willingly accepted to pay the legal fees to Defense Distributed, which added up to an amount of $40,000. All the willingness shown by the government and the very idea of considering this action to be a success has made the likes of Wilson speak up without any fear, publicly. The number of likes and positive views provided to Cody Wilson’s posts actually encouraged him to consider this to be a development. The word “entertainment” is the one used by Wilson to describe the situation that now the world faces with the legalization of the 3D Printed guns. Not only this legalization was a disgrace to the public sentiments, but also was an embarrassment for the governing authorities as well.
Though, in a factual way, there is no court-authorized paradigm established in a settlement, looking practically this decree will surely invigorate similar other organizations to come up with the designs of 3D Printed guns simultaneously engaging in distributing these schematics. By 1st August 2018, Defense Distributed will be resuming the circulation of elaborate procedures that one needs to follow to come up with different types of 3D Printed guns. The concerning issues related to the consequences of facilitating the distribution of the weapons might be impeached in the future. But for now, the current law stated by the US State Department demands that Defense Distributed will not be found guilty of breaching any export control laws while functioning.
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