Facebook Bans 3-D Printed Gun Blueprints

Facebook Inc. is banning 3-D printed gun instructions from its site, amid broader efforts by lawmakers and state attorneys general to stop the online publication of instruction files for undetectable plastic guns.

The social media giant’s community standards prohibit the promotion of violent crime, the sale and transfer of firearms, and instructions on how to make or use weapons, if the goal is to harm others.

“Sharing instructions on how to print firearms using 3D printers is not allowed under our Community Standards. In line with our policies, we are removing this content from Facebook,” a company spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

A federal judge in Washington state has temporarily blocked a Texas nonprofit, Defense Distributed, from publishing manufacturing instructions online. The court is slated to decide whether to extend that ban at an Aug. 21 hearing.

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia sued the State Department in a bid to block its settlement of a closely watched case over Defense Distributed’s 3-D printed gun files. The department agreed to allow the distribution of computer-aided design files for 3-D printed weapons and to approve the nonprofit’s files for public release.

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington July 31 blocked the State Department from fulfilling the agreement. Four gun advocacy groups, including the Firearms Policy Coalition, created a website the same day, CodeIsFreeSpeech.com, to post downloadable 3-D printed gun instructions.

The coalition says Facebook is blocking posts about its website, as well as another site that asks people to appeal Facebook’s action.

The website “does not attempt to sell, gift, exchange, or transfer firearms, firearm parts, ammunition, or explosives between private individuals,” Brandon Combs, president of the coalition, told Bloomberg Law. “Facebook’s outrageous and willful action to take down CodeIsFreeSpeech.com has nothing to do with their so-called ‘standards,’” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alexis Kramer in Washington at akramer@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Roger Yu at ryu@bloomberglaw.com