Defense Distributed: Gun Company Gets License to 3D-Print Guns


The 3D-printed gun manufacturer, Defense Distributed, has acquired the Type 7 Federal Firearms License (FFL) necessary to manufacture and and sell guns. Wilson will not actually be able to manufacture and sell guns until he receives a Class 2 Special Occupational Taxpayer add-on to his FFL. Cody Wilson is the man behind the non-profit Defense Distributed who now finds himself at the center of the brewing storm over the future of gun manufacturing, but who is he?

Cody Wilson is a 25-year-old self described anarchist, “I believe in evading and disintermediating the state.” He is a law student who boasts about passing tests while never actually going to school. Cody Wilson is a man 100% confident in his convictions and moral righteousness. His inflated ego seeps into every interview, every statement, every Tweet. Here are the principles of Defense Distributed as defined by his website:

The specific purposes for which this corporation is organized are: To defend the civil liberty of popular access to arms as guaranteed by the United States Constitution and affirmed by the United States 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, at no cost to the public, such information and knowledge in promotion of the public interest.

In December of 2012, Defense Distributed successfully fired an AR-15 using a 3D-printed lower receiver. The gun, however, was only able to fire off six shorts before failing. On March 1, he released a video showing a reconfigured 3D-printed AR-15 lower firing off 600 rounds.

Another Wilson website, Wiki Weapon, has blueprints for firearms, cartridge specifications, and information on CAD programs. He also throws everything on his newly established DEFCAD search-engine. This is where individuals are able to download all blueprints and information at no cost. 

3D-printed guns will present obvious challenges to law makers, who are still trying to play catch-up to the invention of the internet. To say that law makers are slow to respond to technological advances highlights one of the larger issues that 3D-manufacturing will present to those interested in intellectual property rights and adherence to other federal, state, and local laws. Congress will be unable to make laws as swiftly as new guns, or new merchandise can be created using 3D-printers. 3D-printed guns also present challenges to existing gun laws as it will become significantly easier to tweak features of guns to make them legal. 

Wilson isn't the kind of person who cares about intellectual property or patented goods, as he has repeatedly stated. His controversial positions don't come without a price. Companies do not want to be seen as being associated with him or his 3D-printed guns. His IndieGoGo crowdfunding page was removed for violating its terms of service, and Stratasys  a 3D printer firm — repossessed a printer they had rented out to him once they became aware that the printer was being used to print guns. 

3D-printed guns will also lead to a question of relevance of gun manufacturers at all. As 3D-printers become more widely available, individuals will possess the ability to print their own weapons. Which in and of itself, is not illegal. It would, however, be illegal if that gun or weapon is capable of being concealed on a person. The law would also prevents the weapon from being sold, shared, or traded. 

Wilson has been called one of the “15 most dangerous people in the world.” He has openly called Obama a, “bloodless sociopath” and thinks the Paul Ryan budget plan is but “a timid, 30 year project to barely blunt spending.” Wilson doesn’t believe in being tried by a jury of your peers, but rather promotes a trial via a private jury. He’s said things like, “Don’t print a gun unless you plan on using it.” His statements are reflective of a man filled with displaced anger and resentment.

The issue with Wilson is not in his belief that 3D-printing will revolutionize the country, because it will. The real problem with Wilson is that he believes there should be an actual revolution and that he sees himself as playing the lead role in it. So is Cody Wilson a real trailblazer or just some privileged male who believes he alone has the right to dictate the principles America should stand for? He's most likely a bit of both.