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Printed weapons in 3D: the United States unsheath the instructions for use

Despite its toy, black butt and white cannon, the "Liberator" is at the center of a legal and political battle. The plans for this small undetectable pistol, rigid ABS plastic – that of Lego bricks, or some household appliances – and designed to be manufactured by a 3D printer, should be posted this Wednesday in the United States, consequence of a an agreement concluded at the end of June between the American government and its creator, Cody Wilson, a thirty-year-old Texan described as "crypto-anarchist."

On the website of his organization, Defense Distributed, which defines itself as a [19659003] "Private defense and technology company in the public interest", Cody Wilson promises internet users the ability to download plans to make weapons themselves using a 3D printer. "1 er August 2018: The era of downloadable weapons officially begins" can we read on the homepage.

Cody Wilson published in 2013 the manual instructions to print yourself the "Liberator", with capabilities similar to a real weapon. Two years later, Defense Distributed was forced by US authorities to withdraw it. The State Department had argued not threats to the safety of citizens, but the violation of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which regulates the export of defense equipment and technologies. These plans, accessible anywhere in the world, could indeed be downloaded to countries with which the United States does not trade arms.


Wilson then assigned the US state, but had was dismissed in first instance and on appeal. Seized, the Supreme Court refused to review the file. Until the end of June 2018 and the decision, unexpectedly, the US government to allow it to put its programs online. "We asked for the moon and we thought the government would reject our demands, but it did not want to go to trial," said Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation, a pro-arms organization that supports Distributed Defense. For Cody Wilson's lawyer, Josh Blackman, the government did not want to take the risk of losing a lawsuit: "The court decision could have been used to challenge many gun control regulations" , did he go on.

"Imagine this: your neighbor, already convicted for domestic violence, is trying to buy a weapon, writes actress and activist Alyssa Milano, in a forum published Tuesday titled "A weapon printed in 3D, it is the death to download". He is denied after examination of his antecedents. When he gets home, he goes on his search engine, and half an hour later he prints his own plastic pistol, fully functional and undetectable, without any control of history or registration of his weapon. From 1 er August, that will be the reality in the United States, unless we are able to stop it. "

Some gun experts insist on the high cost (of several thousand to several hundreds of thousands of dollars) 3D printers, making it unlikely they a massive manufacture of these "ghost guns" ghost guns because unregistered, without serial number and undetectable by the gantries of security. The plastic material would also make the weapon fragile and not very functional. "Imagine the damage these weapons can do […] in an airplane cabin. Or in a public building. Or in the classroom of your child, " insists Alyssa Milano.

" Intractable "

Many elected officials mobilized to prevent the publication of plans. On Monday, 21 state attorneys general sent a letter to US Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, urging them to return to agreement on behalf of "public order", they write. "In addition to helping to arm terrorists and international criminals, the agreement could provide a means of possessing a weapon to individuals who are prohibited by law."

On Monday, prosecutors of eight States and the District of Columbia have sued the US government in Seattle federal court. " It's just crazy to give criminals the tools to print untraceable and undetectable weapons in 3D at the push of a button," insurgent Barbara Underwood, state attorney York. These weapons "will be accessible regardless of age, psychological condition or criminal history," pointed out Washington State Attorney Bob Ferguson. They intend to rely on technical elements to challenge the validity of the agreement, allowing the court to rule urgently and suspend the authorization. Before pronouncing, later, on the merits of the case. [ Update, 01/08/2018 : The American justice temporarily suspended last night the launch of digital plans in question. Seized on Monday in emergency, a federal court in Seattle granted the request of prosecutors from eight US states and the federal capital Washington, who wanted to prevent access to these plans. Magistrate Robert Lasnik said he would consider the file on the merits at a new hearing on August 10.]

On Tuesday morning, US President Donald Trump said he was in talks with the National Rifle Association (NRA), the main arms lobby. "I am looking at these 3D made plastic weapons sold to the public, ," he wrote on his Twitter account. I have already spoken to the NRA. It does not seem to make much sense! "he adds, without giving more details.

Isabelle Hanne


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