Despite Cody Wilson’s assertions, the debate over 3D printed guns is not over yet. Last week, social media giant Facebook became the latest organization to weigh-in on the discussion in an update to its Community Guidelines.
“In line with our policies, we are removing this content from Facebook.”
The so-called age of the downloadable gun
Though 3D printed guns remain a critically impractical and convoluted way of obtaining weapons, as one of the most “hot topics” of 3D printing, in the public eye at least, we have been closely monitoring the rise of the “3D Downloadable Gun”.
The idea was first conceived in 2012/2013 when crypto-anarchist and gun-rights activist Cody Wilson designed and began the digital distribution of files to make the Plastic Liberator handgun.
Recently, the debate over availability of these files reached a new peak when Wilson and gun rights non-profit group the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) succeeded in a legal battle at a court in Texas.
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety and the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence tried, and subsequently failed, to acquire an injunction on the ruling, and a number of 3D printing stakeholders have spoken out against the decision.
In the weeks following this decision made by the Department of Justice, Wilson’s site for sharing the files (Defense Distributed) was taken offline by an order from a federal judge in Washington, and the issue has served to inflame further discussion over the general terms of gun control in the United States.
However, since the files were shared by Wilson, they have remained online through sources outside of Defense Distributed.
Facebook prohibits downloadable guns
Sites known to contain files for 3D printing the Plastic Liberator and semi-automatic firearms, have now been prohibited by Facebook.
Sharing such links and files fall under the site’s Regulated Goods Policy that prohibits “the purchase, sale, gifting, exchange and transfer of firearms, including firearm parts or ammunition, between private individuals on Facebook.”
The policy affects all posts made to Facebook news feed, friend timelines, private messenger exchanges and Instagram, with any attempt automatically flagging as spam.
In response to the move, the Firearms Policy Coalition has created a call to action asking Facebook to lift the ban on one affected site, CodeIsFreeSpeech.com that advocates: “Information is code. Code is free speech. Free speech is freedom.”
According Buzzfeed, a Facebook spokesperson has said “the company is currently working on scaling up its anti–3D gun policy.”
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Featured image shows the Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson holding the 3D printed Plastic Liberator. Photo by Lorenza Baroncelli