TAKE COVER

Downloading 3-D Printed Guns to Become Legal Next Month

A three-year legal battle led by gun-rights activists has ended in a settlement with the U.S. government that will legalize downloading 3-D printed guns starting next month. Cody Wilson, who describes himself as a “post-left anarchist,” posted plans for a 3-D printed handgun he called “The Liberator” in 2013, but was told to take them down by the State Department. The government said the plans could violate laws that regulate the export of guns, as someone in another country that the U.S. doesn’t sell weapons to could feasibly download the plans and make their own gun. However, the settlement says Wilson can publish plans in any form and exempts them from export restrictions. The government also agreed to pay almost $40,000 of Wilson’s legal fees. The single-shot pistol is made out of of ABS plastic—the same stuff used in Lego bricks—that can be made on a 3-D printer, but it requires a metal firing pin. “We asked for the moon and we figured the government would reject it, but they didn’t want to go to trial,” said Alan M. Gottlieb with the Second Amendment Foundation, which helped in the case. “The government fought us all the way and then all of the sudden folded their tent.”