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This is an update to Defense Distributed’s ongoing progress with 3D printed weapons.
The eyes of the world are on the innovation of 3D printing. Naturally, whenever a new technology is created that offers open source DIY opportunities to the average individual, it is going to make governments and their protected corporate interests very nervous.
Such is the case with 3D weapons manufacturing. Defense Distributed has been offering sets of computer files for free through their DEFCAD online library. Their progress has been documented on their own site by a series of video updates the company has posted.
Now, after 8 months of discussing the possibility of a fully printable 3D handgun with all parts made of a composite plastic, except for the firing pin, Defense Distributed is set to release the new CAD files to the Web early next week.
Defense Distributed founder, Cody Wilson, recently granted Forbes a behind-the-scenes look at how his new creation — The Liberator — will function:
All sixteen pieces of the Liberator prototype were printed in ABS plastic with a Dimension SST printer from 3D printing company Stratasys, with the exception of a single nail that’s used as a firing pin. The gun is designed to fire standard handgun rounds, using interchangeable barrels for different calibers of ammunition. (Source)
Naturally, politicians such as Steve Israel are responding to Cody Wilson’s self-described “crypto-anarchist” political motivations by introducing legislation to criminalize this technology. But this is precisely the tension that Wilson would like to introduce:
This is an exercise in political theater, to demonstrate that technology is empowering individuals by stripping governments of the ability to enforce restrictions. Yes, you can make guns in a host of ways, including the similarly advanced technology of CNC machines. But 3D printing is a hot and increasingly accessible technology that has been specifically called out by the president. To use it to so easily defeat restrictions (or outright prohibitions) is to demonstrate the limits of the coercive power of the state. (Source)
Wilson has once again drawn Israel’s attention according to the latest update from Forbes:
Congressman Steve Israel issued a press release Friday responding to this story: “Security checkpoints, background checks, and gun regulations will do little good if criminals can print plastic firearms at home and bring those firearms through metal detectors with no one the wiser,” his statement reads. “When I started talking about the issue of plastic firearms months ago, I was told the idea of a plastic gun is science-fiction. Now that this technology is proven, we need to act now to extend the ban [on] plastic firearms.”
However, Israel’s comments don’t address the fact that despite Wilson’s anarchist leanings, he has complied every step of the way, including the issue of metal detectors by adhering to current requirements. Again, from Forbes.
The group added a six ounce chunk of steel into the body to make it detectable by metal detectors in order to comply with the Undetectable Firearms Act. In March, the group also obtained a federal firearms license, making it a legal gun manufacturer.
So far, “the system” doesn’t have much of an answer for Defense Distributed’s inventions and the increasing demand for their latest blueprints. Wilson still has to go through the full battery of tests before officially releasing The Liberator … stay tuned, we’ll post his latest videos as they become available.
A new documentary features Defense Distributed and its founder, Cody Wilson. It is an interesting look at the technology itself, as well as the philosophy behind making 3D-printed weapons available to as many people as possible even in the wake of the gun demonization, executive orders, and political turmoil which followed the mass shootings of 2012. Our chronicle of the controversy surrounding Defense Distributed, as well as their victories, follow the documentary. From the video creators:
This is a story about the rapid evolution of a technology that has forced the American legal system to play catch up. Cody Wilson, a 24-year-old University of Texas Law student, is an advocate for the open source production of firearms using 3D printing technology. This makes him a highly controversial figure on both sides of the gun control issue. MOTHERBOARD sat down with Cody in Austin, Texas to talk about the Constitution, the legal system, and to watch him make and test-fire a 3D-printed gun.
Following on the heels of their homage to gun control advocates such as Andrew Cuomo and Dianne Feinstein, the ATF has granted Defense Distributed the Type 7 Federal Firearms License that the company had been seeking over the last 6 months. However, there is one more step before they will be able to go full throttle:
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. (Source)
As you will read below, the corporate media has begun to focus on Defense Distributed’s founder Cody Wilson and his political views and statements in what could be the start of a serious campaign of demonization.
Wilson explains to ArsTechnica what the newly obtained Type 7 License enables him to do:
“The big thing it allows me to do is that it makes me [a manufacturer] under the law—everything that manufacturers are allowed to do,” he told Ars. “I can sell some of the pieces that we’ve been making. I can do firearms transactions and transport.”
The license is pictured below:
Ars details the next step in the licensing process that will propel Defense Distributed into full-fledged manufacturing and sales, even for automatic weapons:
Currently, Wilson said he will not actually begin manufacturing and selling guns until he receives an “add-on” to his FFL, known as a Class 2 Special Occupational Taxpayer (SOT), as licensed under federal law (PDF). This would allow him to manufacture and deal a broader range of firearms under the National Firearms Act. The Class 2 SOT would grant Wilson the ability to manufacture, for example, a fully-automatic rifle. Wilson applied for the SOT on Saturday and expects to receive approval within a few weeks.
However, some of Cody Wilson’s previous statements, which can be read below, were directed toward specific politicians, including his brash guarantee of success in thwarting any and all gun control measures by stating “good f—ing luck.” In so doing, he seems to have drawn some ire from the mainstream media.
NBC chose to title this news, which they sourced from The Verge’s dryly titled “Defense Distributed gets license to make and sell 3D printed guns,” to something quite different altogether, “ATF grants ‘crypto-anarchist’ license for 3-D printing of guns” – highlighting part of the description from his Facebook page. The article goes on to characterize Defense Distributed as a “loosely organized group” where Wilson “IS” the group. 3D printing is couched in the following manner:
some of its more notable efforts so far have been for medical, space and scientific projects, including helping repair broken bones and building spacecraft parts, as well as commercial efforts including athletic shoes.
The implication appearing to be that 3D weapons manufacturing is not to be included in that list of beneficent uses. It remains to be seen if other mainstream outlets will follow suit and make 3D weapons out to be the next great threat to freedom, rather than one of the cornerstones of preserving it.
The latest from Defense Distributed is in honor of gun-control proponent, Dianne Feinstein. Founder of Defense Distributed, Cody Wilson, states his reasoning for offering their latest creation:
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