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Amazon removes book that contains 3D-printable gun code

Cody Wilson with the first completely 3D-printed handgun, The Liberator, at his home in Austin, Texas on Friday May 10, 2013. (Jay Janner/Austin American-State/TNS)
August 29, 2018

Amazon recently banned the sale of “The Liberator Code Book: An Exercise in Freedom of Speech,” which includes raw code for a 3D-printable gun. But aside from saying there was a violation, Amazon did not elaborate on why it took down the book.

The book had been available through Amazon’s self-publication services since Aug. 1, but now the option to buy the book is replaced with an error message. This includes the Kindle purchase option.

Jack Evans, an Amazon spokesperson, told the Washington Free Beacon, “This book was removed for violating our content guidelines.”

Evans would only refer to the Kindle Direct Publishing content guidelines, which ban the publication of pornography, offensive content, illegal and infringing content, public domain and other non-exclusive content, and books that result in a “poor customer experience.”

“Don’t have any additional comment beyond what I’ve shared. Link I provided states that books must adhere to our guidelines,” Evans told the Washington Free Beacon.

The 425-page book includes the raw code of a computer file containing the specifications of Cody Wilson’s single-shot 3D-printed Liberator gun design.

It includes a two-page instruction manual on assembly but also noted that the book was not “created, authorized or directed” by Wilson’s Defense Distributed.

Defense Distributed has recently been in the news frequently after the State Department settled with the group to allow the release of 3D-printable gun blueprints online on Aug. 1. But then a judge issued a temporary ban on the blueprints being posted online after public outcry. The ban was extended indefinitely this month.

There is a one-page editor’s note in the banned book that reads, “The purpose of this exercise is to give a physical analogy between computer code and books. Preventing the publishing of code online is no different than banning a book from circulation and pulling it from the shelves of a library,” the Washington Free Beacon reported after obtaining a copy of the book.

Amazon, the world’s largest bookseller, whose owner Jeff Bezos also owns the Washington Post, sells its share of controversial books.

Some of the more contentious titles include Hitler’s autobiography “Mein Kampf;” Marx and Engles’s “Communist Manifesto;” “The Turner Diaries” by Andrew Macdonald, which motivated Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh; and “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion,” the world’s most famous anti-Semitic attack.

Numerous instruction manuals that teach how to build improvised weapons are also still for sale on Amazon.

The most debated are “The Anarchist Cookbook,” “The U.S. Army Improvised Munitions Handbook,” “The U.S. Army Special Forces Guide to Unconventional Warfare: Devices and Techniques for Incendiaries,” “The U.S. Department of the Army Field Manual on Boobytraps” and “The Los Alamos Primer: The First Lectures on How to Build an Atomic Bomb,” which includes classified documents on how scientists built the very first nuclear bomb.

Amazon wouldn’t comment to the Washington Free Beacon if it plans to ban other potentially controversial books.