How's that national conversation going?
"I don't believe in Romney versus Obama. I believe in real politics. That's a real political act, giving you a magazine, telling you that it will never be taken away... That's radical equality. That's what I believe in... I'm just resisting. What am I resisting? I don't know... But I can tell you one thing: this is a symbol of irreversibility. They can never eradicate the gun from the earth." -Cody Wilson
Cody Wilson is the University of Texas law student who invented the world's first 3D printed firearm, the Liberator, in 2013, and a 3D printed AR-15 lower receiver (capable of firing over 650 rounds), plus a number of magazines (including one for the AK-47)– and made the CAD files to 3D print them available for free to anyone with uncensored Internet on the website, DefCad.org.
3d Printed Lower Receiver AR-15 Demo, 2013
Liberator Pistol: Downloadable and 3D Printable
Cody Wilson based the design for the physible (or 3D printable) single shot Liberator pistol on the WWII era FP-45 Liberator created for the U.S. Army Joint Psychological Warfare Committee by skilled American gunsmith, George Hyde.
The Army wanted a simple, single shot pistol that could be easily, quickly, and cheaply mass produced, then air dropped by the Office of Strategic Services (the OSS would later become the CIA) into Nazi-occupied Europe for resistance forces to use.
A crude and clumsy weapon with a short, unrifled barrel, and an effective range of no more than 25-feet, the original Liberator was never intended for front line use by regular soldiers, but as a tool of insurgency, and a psychological operation to demoralize occupying forces. When planning for civilian resistance, occupying forces would have to consider the untold thousands of Liberators airdropped into the hands of civilian insurgents.
The modern, physible Liberator looks quite like its WWII predecessor, and seems to perfectly emulate its design, both mechanical and strategic. It certainly had its intended effect as a bold statement of resistance to world governments and an effective demonstration of the futility of state control.
Upon the publication of the CAD files for the Liberator by Cody Wilson's non-profit Defense Distributed in May 2013, the files were downloaded 100,000 times in 48 hours before the U.S. government sent a letter demanding the files be taken down.
Cody Wilson complied, but by then the files were available on the Dark Web and through decentralized peer-to-peer file sharing indexes like The Pirate Bay. It would be impossible for any government to ever take them down again without censoring the entire Internet. God bless the Internet.
(Just add a single metal nail for the firing pin.)
Cody Wilson's Lawsuit Against The U.S. Justice Department and U.S. Department of State
"Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you're a man, you take it." -Second Amendment Supporter, Malcolm X
Within days of his opening salvo in a new digital war against gun control, the U.S. State Department closed in on Cody, threatening to prosecute him under federal arms export laws for making his 3D printable gun files available to people overseas by putting them online, ostensibly treating the matter as if he had shipped an actual gun to another country– like the U.S. does all the time.
(No hint of irony from the same people who sent 2,000 guns across the border into Mexico, in the bizarre, botched FBI gun-walking operation code-named "Fast and Furious," —including hundreds of AR-15 rifles, deliberately selling them to known weapons sources for the violent criminal Mexican drug cartel, many of which have been found at murder scenes of innocent civilians and a U.S. border patrol agent.)
So Cody Wilson took DefCad offline, and assembled a legal team, and along with help from the Second Amendment Foundation, and amicus briefs from the Cato Institute, the Madison Society, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and even 15 Republican members of Congress– he took the Justice and State Departments to court.
He made a simple argument. He not only has the right to distribute 3D printable gun files under the 2nd Amendment, but also under the 1st Amendment. After five years of waging a legal battle over firearm freedom in America, the Justice Department quietly settled with Cody Wilson and his company, Defense Distributed, out of court, agreeing with Wilson's argument that his 3D gun files are protected free speech, and suprisingly offering to pay $40,000 of his legal fees, only a small fraction of the total costs of litigation, but still quite the cherry on top of what was essentially an unconditional surrender of the U.S. Department of Justice to the incontrovertible legal arguments of Cody Wilson's case.
Future 3D Printed Gun Laws Now On Shaky Ground– Not That It Matters Anyways :)
"Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." -Mao Zedong
The settlement came a couple months ago, but the news first broke last week in a fascinating, if somewhat hostile feature article by Wired magazine, prompting Cody Wilson to tweet in characteristic laconic form: "Bad News Travels Fast."
As Reason magazine notes, the Justice Department relented as the case neared a ruling on Wilson's 1st Amendment argument, and the 5th Circuit Court judges showed no inclination to grant the government's merits in the case. God bless Texas.
Future attempts by legislators to censor, regulate, or otherwise make 3d printed gun designs illegal are now on shaky legal grounds, and there's no doubt that legislators and courts will remember what happened between the U.S. Justice Department and Cody Wilson in the 5th Circuit this year.
From the perspective of 2nd Amendment jurisprudence, this is just the latest landmark case in a remarkable series of rulings– from the U.S. Supreme Court's Heller decision in 2008, to the McDonald case in 2010, to the Woolard ruling in 2012– that have affirmed and even extended the 2nd Amendment protections to American civilians, so they can remain armed and vigilant against imminent threats to their life, liberty, and property. It's a libertarian dream come true. I told you libertarians are winning.
Come And Take It - 3D Printed Gun Plans Are Agorism, Counter Economics, and Cryptoanarchy in Action
"No matter how hard you try, you can't stop us now." -Afrika Bambaataa & SoulSonic Force, Renegades of Funk
In his media interviews, Cody Wilson assumes a coy and shifty pose, giving short and often indirect answers to the many odd questions journalists ask based on unspoken and– for most people– unexamined premises, ideas that Cody sees straight through and refuses to accept. It's an appropriate and articulate pose.
I think Cody does it because he knows his actions speak much louder than his words. His demeanor, which confounds so many of his interviewers, seems to say: I made 3D printed gun blueprints. What more could I possibly say?
"Raising the federal age of gun ownership and possession to the age of 21; banning all bump stocks; making sure that we have universal background checks; making sure that people that have committed acts of domestic violence are no longer able to get a gun, which in Florida, it's harder, it's just not impossible, fully, yet; and making sure that people with a criminal history and a history of mental illness are not able to obtain these weapons of mass destruction." -Parkland, Florida rampage shooting survivor, David Hogg's legislative proposals on CNN, Feb 28, 2018
This gun control activist is either naively unaware or willfully ignorant of the inherent limits of such gun control legislation in the era of the Internet and 3D printing technology. The government can ban bump stocks and bully companies that sell them:
But without censoring the entire Internet, it can't stop people from making and uploading plans for 3D printed bump stocks. And it can't stop people from downloading them and manufacturing them with ease at home using a personal 3D printer:
The Revolutionary 3D Printer - How It Works
The fact that you can now 3D print a real gun from downloadable 3D printed gun designs is just one facet of a revolutionary technology that will change the entire economy and society forever. 3D printing as a form of manufacturing is so revolutionary because it is so unlimited in its possibilities.
In many ways it does for the world of physical, manufactured objects, what the Internet has done for information. The term 3D printing is a very perceptive to formulate and understand "additive manufacturing," the more technical and explicitly descriptive name for this exciting new manufacturing process.
Traditional manufacturing machines typically use a "subtractive manufacturing" process, e.g. punching a specified shape out of a sheet of metal. Such a machine can only produce one kind of object. But– enabled by the power and versatility of digital computation– a 3D printer can read a digital design for virtually any shape, and by adding successive layers one at a time, can manufacture any object a designer can dream up and model with the help of computer aided design software.
Here's a time elapsed video of a 3D printer in action:
While consumer grade 3D printers are rather basic now, mostly used to print replacement parts in plastic and interesting trinkets, novelties, and toys, 3D printers have already advanced a long way since their inception, and just like the concurrent exponential trends of development in the power, versatility, and cost-effectiveness of computing over the past few decades, 3D printers are rapidly becoming more complex, capable, and affordable.
3D printer prices have rapidly fallen over the last decade, even as the machines have become more precise and capable of printing at higher resolutions. 3D printers will become even more versatile over the next decade, able to print at even finer resolutions with a growing variety of materials. At a fine enough resolution with enough materials, 3D printers will be able to manufacture items as small and complex as microchips and entire computing devices like smartphones from files freely distributed online.
In the very near future these personal manufacturing devices will most certainly be able to 3D print entire, fully-functional, sophisticated firearms with durable materials, and manufacture 3D printed ammunition for them to shoot. In fact, just a few months after Defense Distributed uploaded the CAD files for plastic 3D printable gun parts, California-based Solid Concepts (since acquired by Stratasys) demonstrated a pistol 3D printed from aluminum alloy. (They didn't upload the files.)
Just like personal computers, the technology used to produce this firearm will soon be available in every home.
The Second Amendment Forever
Being able to download gun designs from other computers over the Internet and then 3D print a gun in your own home will render gun control impossible forever. There will be no need for the Second Amendment any longer. Americans will not have to lobby Congress and hope it keeps the promises the federal government made in the Bill of Rights. It will simply be impossible for the government to stop us from being free to be dangerous and possess firearms for our right to self defense. A ban on high-capacity magazines or bump stocks will be unenforceable when manufacturing them becomes decentralized, when millions of people can download and 3D print one of their own.
In his report on the Justice Department's capitulation to Defense Distributed, Wired journalist Andy Greenberg called Cody Wilson's project "the winning move in the battle over access to guns." But the battle is likely far from over.
The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. A future of freedom is not inevitable. You have to do something to make it a reality.
On April 1, 2013, Defense Distributed and DefCad went down. Visitors saw a notice from the U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security announcing that the domain names had been seized pursuant to an order issued by a U.S. District Court. The next day, the websites were back online, and Defense Distributed posted a screenshot of the previous day's notice, captioned: "Real seizure? Fake seizure? It's a joke either way."
This April Fool's joke raised the specter of a threat to the free availability of 3D printable gun designs over the open Internet.
As William Grigg wrote that day at LewRockwell.com:
"How will gun-grabbers carry out their confiscations if people can download 3-D printing applications and manufacture their own? They will simply steal the websites."
If the feds can just seize websites, that's the real winning move in the fight for gun freedom, right? Wrong. The April Fool's Day joke was a challenge to free people everywhere. Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed have done their part. They've created the designs. They've made them available online. But there's nothing they can do if their website is seized again, perhaps under a future, less 2nd Amendment friendly White House administration.
Now you must act to make the 3D printable gun revolution truly relevant, and download the gun designs from DefCad.
The Washington regime can shut down one domain, but it can't stop a million of us if we make millions of copies of these designs and share them in decentralized fashion on peer-to-peer networks to propagate them onto millions of computers across the world, onto as many computers as possible. If you want to engage in a real political act, if you want to make a real difference, if you want to send a loud and clear message to those who would take our guns that they'll never be able to, download the files.
Then install the uTorrent file-sharing app on your computer and seed the files so that others can download them from your computer. This way, even if DefCad is seized by a gun grabbing administration, sovereign individuals everywhere will be able to download the gun designs they want (and have a right to possess) from a million other computers, including yours. This is a radical political act that carries the 3D printed gun revolution to fruition!
"I barely put a million bucks into this and I got you the Second Amendment forever. What has the NRA done for you lately?" -Cody Wilson
This article first appear on my website, The Humble Libertarian.