The pioneer of 3D printed guns has filed suit against the State Department over the agency’s assertion that publishing gun blueprints violates the Arms Export Control Act.
The lawsuit is in response to a dispute between Cody Wilson and the State Department that reaches back several years. In 2013, Wilson’s company created the world’s first 3D printed gun, the Liberator, and posted its designs online. “We were the first ones to really make a durable AR-15 receiver,” Wilson said. “And then we were the first ones to do the AR magazine, the AK magazine, and then we did the printed pistol.”
In May of that year, the State Department sent the company, Defense Distributed, a letter demanding they remove the plans from the Internet. The letter also said the company may be in violation of the Arms Export Control Act.
“They actually didn’t even have any process to direct me to on this part of the lawsuit,” Wilson said. “There wasn’t actually even a cease and desist, it was this kind of veiled threat demanding that I make some submissions to their agency and recognize their agency’s authority to claim commodity jurisdiction over the pieces.”
“So the ITAR [International Traffic in Arms Regulations] is the regulation they use. … We’re not talking about international treaty or like the UN arms trade treaty or any of these other things that are now coming in with like fast track and all that stuff. We’re talking about a set of regs.”