Proposed Law Blocks Export Of America’s Least Threatening Gun

It would also outlaw hosting design files for 3D printed weapons

Liberator Gun On Display

Cody Wilson/Defence Distributed 2013, via Victoria & Albert Museum

Designed by Defense Distributed, the 3D printed Liberator pistol is both a revolutionary concept and a profoundly mediocre gun. The Liberator is the world's first successful 3D printed gun, capable of firing a single bullet, with only a modest risk of exploding in the hand of the shooter. Shortly after it's creation, the State Department moved to block the group sharing the file online. Now, a proposed rule change to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations could keep all files for 3D printed guns offline.

The change in question is to the definition of "technical data," and it is, unsurprisingly, quite a technical paragraph. From the proposed rules:

Paragraph (a)(1) also sets forth a broader range of examples of formats that ‘‘technical data’’ may take, such as diagrams, models, formulae, tables, engineering designs and specifications, computer-aided design files, manuals or documentation, or electronic media, that may constitute ‘‘technical data.’’ Additionally, the revised definition includes certain conforming changes intended to reflect the revised and newly added defined terms

Essentially, this means that the definition of technical data related to weapons now includes electronic files like schematics for 3D printed weapons. And, thanks to a change in the definition of “required,” exporting the technical data for printing a gun is treated identically to exporting a 3D printed gun itself.

If enacted, the rules could effectively keep 3D printed gun designs off the internet, or at least keep them from being hosted inside the United States. There's a 60-day period for public comment on the rule change, and lasts until August 3rd.