Congressman Objects to WikiWeapons

It was only a matter of time before the WikiWeapons project would cause alarm in the halls of Washington D.C. Recently, Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), voiced his concerns about Defense Distributed’s project and other projects that might mirror its goals.

Rep. Israel said, “Congress passed a law banning plastic guns for two decades, when they were just a movie fantasy… With the advent of 3D printers these guns are suddenly a real possibility, but the law Congress passed is set to expire next year.”

The law that Rep. Israel is referring to is the 1988 Undetectable Firearms Act. According to the 1988 Act, it is a federal offense to manufacture, import, sell, ship deliver, possess, transfer, or receive a gun capable of skirting airport metal detectors. To that effect the law requires that all weapons have an x-ray detection signature equal to that of 3.7 oz of stainless steel.

Now, the 1988 Undetectable Firearms Act does have an exemption for the CIA, the military and for manufacturers who want to field test their firearm prototypes. And that’s precisely where Defense Distributed sees itself.

Defense Distributed believes that it’s a distributor if intellectual property (IP). However, it does contain within it a separate operation that has applied to be a licensed firearm manufacture. So the separation between IP distributor and manufacture is pretty thin.  But if their license were to be approved, it appears that their project would be above board.

However, the issue that Defense Distributed has raised doesn’t end there. 3D printing evangelist, (and terrific author, if I might add) Cory Doctorow see Rep. Israel’s concern as the first step toward limiting the potential of 3D printers. Doctorow chastises, “However, what Rep. Israel doesn’t say is how he hopes to accomplish his goal. Firmware locks for 3D printers? A DMCA-like takedown regime for 3D shape files that can be used to generate plastic firearms (or parts of plastic firearms?). A mandate on 3D printer manufacturers to somehow magically make it impossible for their products to print out gun-parts?”

For his part, Rep Israel has denied that his wish to extend the 1988 Undetectable Firearms Act has anything to do with 3D printing. Rep. Israel simply wants the law extended beyond its current expiration date, and I think that’s a great idea. However, I do think that it’s unfortunate that he has used Defense Distributed as his boogeyman.

Read More at CNet

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia