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05/09/2013

Blueprints for 3D gun a hit; 100,000 downloads in two days

Downloadable blueprints for a new gun that can be made with a 3D printer have been a huge hit -- especially in Spain.

Two days after their release on the Internet, more than 100,000 computer users around the world have downloaded blueprints for the “Liberator,” and the most of the initial downloads came from Spain, the company tells Forbes magazine. The U.S. ranks second, ahead of Brazil, Germany, and the U.K., the company says, although it wasn’t able to provide firm download numbers for each country.

Not everyone who downloads the printable gun blueprints may try to make one.

The gun was produced by Defense Distributed, a group that says it wants to "defend the civil liberty of popular access to arms" through "information and knowledge related to the 3D printing of arms."

“This is a piece of information no different from any other piece of digital information,” Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson told the Star's Ben Rayner in March, adding that he’s determined to find a way to see his project through “in a legally encapsulated way. We’re going to do this with the approval of the government."

Each of the Liberator's parts were made using a 3D printer, with the exception of a metal firing pin, which is made from a nail.

The gun's development has also sparked a backlash from U.S. lawmakers, who promise to introduce legislation banning the blueprints -- perhaps 100,000 downloads too late.

“Now anyone, a terrorist, someone who is mentally ill, a spousal abuser, a felon, can essentially open a gun factory in their garage,” U.S. Senator Charles Schumer said on Sunday. “It must be stopped.”

Rick Westhead is a foreign affairs writer at the Star. He was based in India as the Star’s South Asia bureau chief from 2008 until 2011 and reports on international aid and development. Follow him on Twitter @rwesthead

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