The movement to make printable guns suffered yet another setback last week when Thingiverse—a Makerbot Industries site that hosts user-created design files—pulled a collection of blueprints for gun components from its servers.
Among the deleted data was a file for a reinforced AR-15 lower receiver, uploaded by Michael Guslick, a Wisconsin-based IT administrator and gun aficionado who goes by HaveBlue on various Web forums.
Defense Distributed, a libertarian-oriented collective working toward the development of the world's first fully 3-D-printable gun (dubbed "the Wiki Weapon"), used a modified version of Guslick's receiver in a YouTube demonstration that caused a United States congressman to call for the renewal of the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988.
"You agree not to use the Site or Services to collect, upload, transmit, display, or distribute any User Content [that] ... contributes to the creation of weapons, illegal materials or is otherwise objectionable," Thingiverse's terms read.
But Thingiverse has done very little until now to enforce the terms, which have been in place since February, said Defense Distributed's Cody Wilson, who spoke with the Daily Dot on the phone.
Wilson speculates that the company pulled any weapon-related files from the site as a result of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.
They've had from February to now to enforce those rules, but they've been kind of doing it both ways," Wilson stated. "Now they execute them for ... well, it's kind of obvious why.
"It would be difficult to think that wasn't the reason why."
But not all weapons-related files have been pulled from the site. As pointed out on 3Ders.org, a site devoted to 3-D printing culture, blueprints for a revolver and a Colt M1911A1 pistol are still available for download on Thingiverse.
The Daily Dot reached out to Thingiverse, but they have yet to respond to our inquiry.
The company did speak to Forbes—though not on this specific issue—explaining that their actions were just another step in the site's evolution.
"MakerBot's focus is to empower the creative process and make things for good," stated spokesperson Jenifer Howard. "Thingiverse has been going through an evolution recently and has had numerous changes and updates. Reviewing some of the content that violates Thingiverse's Terms of Service is part of this process."
As per the deleted files, Wilson and Defense Distributed launched a new file-hosting site, defcad.org.
"This site is a makeshift response to Makerbot Industries' decision to censor files uploaded in good faith at Thingiverse, specifically firearms-related files," reads the site's About Us page.
"We're not sure how this site might fit into Defense Distributed's efforts, but know that THIS place, if there will be no other, IS a home for fugitive information. No object file will be censored unless it is malicious software. When we say freedom of information, we mean it."
Photo via DefCad.org