||It has been suggested that Cody Wilson be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since May 2013.|
|Type of site||Open source digital publishing|
|Launched||July 27, 2012|
|Alexa rank||133,047 (December 2012[update])|
Defense Distributed is an online, open-source, organization designing a firearm, called a "wiki weapon", that may be downloaded from the Internet and "printed" with a 3D printer. Among the organization's goals is to develop and freely publish firearms-related design schematics that can be downloaded and reproduced by anyone with a 3D printer.
After raising over US$20,000 via a crowd-funding appeal, suffering the confiscation of its first 3D printer, and partnering with private manufacturing firms, the organization began live fire testing of printable firearm components in December 2012.
Defense Distributed has to date produced a durable printed receiver for the AR-15, the first printed standard capacity AR-15 magazine, and the first printed magazine for the AK-47. These files are available for download at the organization's publishing site, DEFCAD.
On May 9, 2013, the United States Department of State requested that Defense Distributed remove its download links from the public while it determined if they violated the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. Defense Distributed voluntarily complied.
The defensedistributed.com domain name was registered on June 4, 2012. The website was unveiled in conjunction with an Indiegogo campaign of the same name in July 2012, where the organization asked to receive US$20,000. Indiegogo suspended the crowd-funding campaign for a terms of service violation after three weeks, refunding the money raised without offering public comment. Defense Distributed continued the appeal on its own website, however, accepting contributions through PayPal and the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, and met its fundraising goal in September 2012.
According to the Defense Distributed website, the nonprofit is organized and operated for charitable and literary purposes, specifically "to defend the civil liberty of popular access to arms as guaranteed by the United States Constitution and affirmed by the Supreme Court, through facilitating global access to, and the collaborative production of, information and knowledge related to the 3D printing of arms; and to publish and distribute... such information and knowledge in promotion of the public interest." The websites once had a “Manifesto” page presenting string of quotations from American and British historical figures that could be broadly read to support the right to arms and freedom of speech, but the site's manifesto link now directs users to an online version of John Milton's essay Areopagitica.
The organization’s motivations have been described as "less about [a] gun... than about democratizing manufacturing technology," In an interview with Slashdot, Cody Wilson described the Wiki Weapon project as a chance to "experiment with Enlightenment ideas… to literally materialize freedom.”
In December 2012, as a response to Makerbot Industries' decision to take down firearms-related files at the popular 3D printing file library Thingiverse, Defense Distributed launched a companion site at defcad.org. DEFCAD currently hosts all of the files Defense Distributed believes to have been "censored" from Thingiverse, as well as other files submitted by the public and those related to the Wiki Weapon project.
In March 2013, at the SXSW Interactive festival, Wilson announced a repurposed and expanded DEFCAD that would serve as a 3D search engine and development hub, while maintaining the spirit of access endemic to Defense Distributed. The new DEFCAD was deemed "The Pirate Bay of 3D Printing" and "the anti-Makerbot" even before its launch, and has to date raised over US$80,000 through a crowd-funding appeal.
Legal status 
Defense Distributed is a pending 501(c)(3) tax exempt charity, and not a weapons manufacturer. The organization operates to publish intellectual property and information developed by licensed firearms manufacturers and the public.
Legal troubles 
Stratasys confiscation 
Learning of Defense Distributed's plans, manufacturer Stratasys, Inc threatened legal action and demanded the return of the 3D printer it had leased to Wilson. On September 26, 2012, before the printer was assembled for use, Wilson received an email from Stratasys claiming that he was using the printer "for illegal purposes". Stratasys immediately canceled its lease with Wilson and sent a team to confiscate the printer the next day. Wilson was subsequently questioned by the ATF when visiting the ATF field office in Austin, Texas to inquire about legalities and regulations relating to the Wiki Weapons project.
The Undetectable Firearms Act 
International Traffic in Arms Regulations 
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
Defense Distributed had been ordered by the United States Department of State on May 9, 2013 to remove the download links to its publicly accessible cad files. The State Department stated in a letter, "Pursuant to § 127.1 of the ITAR [International Traffic in Arms Regulations] it is unlawful to export any defense article or technical data for which a license or written approval is required without first obtaining the required authorization from the DTCC. Please note that disclosing (including oral or visual disclosure) or transferring technical data to a foreign person, whether in the United States or abroad, is considered an export under § 120.17 of the ITAR." This letter most likely was transmitted in light of Defense Distributed Liberator Pistol, a fully functioning firearm with fifteen of the sixteen required parts being entirely manufactured with a 3D printer. Peer to peer torrent sites continue to host the torrents for Defense Distributed cad files. Therefore, only the "official" download links have been removed and the files are still accessible by these means. 
Defense Distributed has received both strong praise and criticism. It has not been endorsed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), which to date has offered no public comment on the organization or its activities. Defense Distributed has been obliquely endorsed by the Gun Owners of America (GOA). Critics have accused the organization of endangering public safety and attempting to frustrate and alter the US system of government.
Commenting on Defense Distributed’s frequent theatricality, Aaron Timms of Blouin News described the organization as performing “the greatest piece of political performance art of [the 21st] century.”
Open source software icon Eric S. Raymond has endorsed the organization and its efforts, calling Defense Distributed "friends of freedom" and writing "I approve of any development that makes it more difficult for governments and criminals to monopolize the use of force. As 3D printers become less expensive and more ubiquitous, this could be a major step in the right direction."
See also 
- 3D printing
- Gun politics in the United States
- Liberator (gun)
- Open source
- Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988
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