Starting Aug. 1, Americans will be able to download untraceable plastic 3D-printed guns. It follows a long legal battle between a self-described anarchist and the State Department.
"The Liberator" is a 3D-printed gun designed by 30-year-old Cody Wilson, founder of Defense Distributed, a pro-gun group. The plastic weapon is made with a 3D printer, internet connection and a free online guide. Wilson's other blueprints include AR-15-style rifles.
The State Department demanded Wilson take down his blueprints five years ago. He complied, but fired back with a lawsuit, citing "free speech" rights.
After a legal battle, a settlement was recently reached. Starting Wednesday, the State Department will allow Wilson to start posting his 3D gun blueprints on his website.
"What I'm opposed to is technology unchecked," said David Chipman, a retired Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives special agent. He says 3D-printed guns present a real and present danger because they're both unregulated and untraceable.
"We are basically handing the keys to the store to terrorists and armed criminals," he said.
Gun hobbyist Mike Crumling says the threat of 3D firearms are overblown. He designs his own versions.
"The printing process is not dangerous but the testing process would be the most dangerous part about this," he said.
Crumling says it could take up to 40 hours to print one 3D firearm.
"The people who think that you can download and just print a firearm, it's possible, but it is not that simple," he said.
But Chipman believes this technology will fall into the wrong hands.
"I guarantee you, five to 10 years from now, this is going to be a real threat to public safety," Chipman said.
Several gun control organizations are seeking an emergency injunction to halt the publication of the blueprints. The 3D guns can already be made legally, but can't be sold.
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