On Thursday, Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson received a letter from the State Department Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance demanding that he take down the online blueprints for the 3D-printable “Liberator” handgun that his group released Monday, along with nine other 3D-printable firearms components hosted on the group’s website Defcad.org. The government says it wants to review the files for compliance with arms export control laws known as the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, or ITAR. By uploading the weapons files to the Internet and allowing them to be downloaded abroad, the letter implies Wilson’s high-tech gun group may have violated those export controls.
This directive will set off huge waves of paranoia out there in Gunlandia, raising all sorts of anxious questions in gun owners’ minds. Why is the State Department involved here? Is this some kind of crypto UN-Bilderberger plot to disarm the American people or prevent them from accessing information? If it gets wide enough play, the domestic opposition to arms trade treaties will go into overdrive. Overall, it’s an excellent example of the way a failure to understand the internal dynamics of American politics can leave Foggy Bottom out in the cold.[Photo of the Liberator by Michael Thad Carter for Forbes.com. Click through to see more photos]