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Q&A: 3D gun maker Cody Wilson defends freedom to print guns

Lucas Mearian | June 3, 2014
He's planning another gun-related announcement later this year.

Have you felt push back from gun rights advocacy groups? The NRA is kind of a black box. I've heard there are supporters within and others who don't. The most opposition we've seen is from NRA members who really believe in institutional mediation of these thing. They like licenses and like background checks. And, you can understand that to a degree.

How do you feel about background checks? I feel like it's part of a disciplinary fantasy. Like oh, we can know what everyone's doing. It's just kind of conceit of knowledge that I think is a fantasy. I think a realistic way of treating guns is not to do background checks before hand but to deal with actors afterwards. Is it a good business practice to rely on background checks? Yeah, sure. But I'm not playing that game.

What are you doing these days? You graduated from college; you created Defense Distributed and the Liberator, are they your main focus or are there other interests? We just released a big piece of Bitcoin software with a group of anarchists in Spain. It's called the Dark Wallet.

So how are you making money? Like I said, we did this big Bitcoin project and raised like six figures for that, and I have a book deal from Simon & Schuster. It's enough to keep me going right now.

So your main focus is still enabling the 3D printing of guns and getting government approval to continue that? Yeah. I'm getting different kinds of government approval to continue my activity. I've got a problem with the State Department right now, but it's not as bad as it might seem. There's just a lot of apprehension and confusion about the technology and the means of its distribution.

They named like 10 CAD files to pull down. We just pulled all of them down. This is not a full stop. We're still working with them. They've got a real problem. There's a public interest and open source moment happening with these files. They can't just police them. So, they're trying to come up with a policy for them.

Cody Wilson
Cody Wilson

Can you explain why you're doing this? Is this all about the Right to Bear Arms under the Second Amendment? Gun people and Second Amendment people like the project, but for me it's really about the implications of open source and the digital age. It's global in scope.

Rights talk is not something I really engage in. I'm interested in critical theory. There's no way to stop what we're doing, so I think we can challenge the legal structure itself or make it aware of its contradictions about this or get it to accommodate the fact that things like this are going to happen.


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