Debate Over 3D Printed Guns Ramps Up

Debate Over 3D Printed Guns Ramps Up

Facebook is removing blueprints for 3D printed guns from its site, saying they fall foul of its community guidelines on the sale or exchange of firearms. While designs have been available online for years, the issue of 3D printed guns - which can of course be downloaded without any background checks, and which can produce a weapon invisible to metal detectors - reared its head again last week. In June, the US State Department reached a settlement with Defense Distributed, the creator of the designs, that would have seen them published online on August 1. However, the day before, Judge Robert S. Lasnik of United States District Court granted a temporary restraining order banning their publication, saying there was 'a likelihood of irreparable harm'. Another hearing is due later today. However, several sites, including CodeIsFreeSpeech, had already shared plans for guns including an AR-15 and a Beretta on Facebook - and Facebook is now calling a halt. Some users are told that the link is malicious or spam; others, more accurately, that it is 'not allowed' with the explanation "We restrict certain content and actions to protect our community". "Welcome to Facebook North Korea," it says; Facebook appears to have blocked sharing that link too. Many argue that the ban is meaningless: it's already easy enough for criminals to get hold of guns, they say, and in any case the 3D versions are pretty ineffective. However, there's no knowing how the technology will improve over time, and there's an important precedent to be set.

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TOPSHOT – Cody Wilson, owner of Defense Distributed company, holds a 3D printed gun. (Photo by Kelly WEST / AFP) (Photo credit should read KELLY WEST/AFP/Getty Images)

Facebook is removing blueprints for 3D printed guns from its site, saying they fall foul of its community guidelines on the sale or exchange of firearms.

While designs have been available online for years, the issue of 3D printed guns – which can of course be downloaded without any background checks, and which can produce a weapon invisible to metal detectors – reared its head again last week.

In June, the US State Department reached a settlement with Defense Distributed, the creator of the designs, that would have seen them published online on August 1. However, the day before, Judge Robert S. Lasnik of United States District Court granted a temporary restraining order banning their publication, saying there was ‘a likelihood of irreparable harm’.

Another hearing is due later today.

However, several sites, including CodeIsFreeSpeech, had already shared plans for guns including an…

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