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Guns, Code, and Freedom

Cody Wilson on his war against power, the irreversible course of the 3D-printed gun, and America's Weimar moment

Gun control is not dead," says Cody Wilson. "Gun control is undead. We just keep killing it but it keeps coming back." Wilson, a crypto-anarchist and serial troublemaker, launched the age of the digital gun in 2013 when he published files showing how to make the Liberator, a 3D-printed pistol. It set off a panic in the media and in anti-gun political circles.

By late 2014, his company, Defense Distributed, had raised enough capital to begin manufacturing the Ghost Gunner, a miniature computer numerical control (CNC) mill designed to take an "80 percent lower" for an AR-15 and turn it into a legal, untraceable, fully functioning metal firearm. (While the 3D-printing process is additive, creating objects out of soft material such as plastics, milling is subtractive, cutting away material from an existing structure, and can be done to both plastics and metals.)

For the uninitiated, the Ghost Gunner's purpose takes some unpacking. A lower receiver is the part generally considered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to be the "firearm," whether other components are present or not. It is also the part that must be stamped with a serial number when produced by a commercial manufacturer.

So-called 80 percent lowers (or "80 percent frames") are, as the name suggests, only four-fifths complete. As a result, they're not firearms in a legal sense. Anyone can purchase an 80 percent lower and then use his own tools to do the remaining mill work, turning the object into a working weapon. It is perfectly licit in the U.S. to make a gun this way; outside of California, it does not need to be registered or serialized.

For four years, Wilson has been embroiled in a legal battle over his work. But it's not the ATF he's fighting—it's the State Department. Shortly after publication of the Liberator instructions, the agency forced Defense Distributed to remove those files from its website, citing violations of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).

In 2015, joined by the Second Amendment Foundation and the legendary attorney Alan Gura, Wilson challenged the State Department's order on First, Second, and Fifth Amendment grounds. They later petitioned the Supreme Court for a temporary injunction that would null the take-down order until their lawsuit is resolved. In January, the high court declined to hear the case, sending it back to a lower court in Texas to be argued on the merits.

Despite the ongoing legal skirmishing, Defense Distributed in late 2017 released new files allowing the Ghost Gunner to mill handgun frames in addition to rifles. In December, Reason's Mark McDaniel spoke with Wilson about the future of gun control, how a weapon can be speech, and where Western liberal decadence is taking us.

Reason: How do the new Ghost Gunner files differ from what you've done before?

Cody Wilson: All handguns will eventually be available to people to produce for themselves, to complete from 80 percent, and to do in the privacy of their own homes.

On October 1 we published a new set of files for handguns. Our mill can do AR-15 receivers and .308 receivers, but proceeding into this new chapter of handgun finishing, the 1911 and the Glock are our inaugural files.

This is another dimension of doing Second Amendment work for yourself, because the handgun is concealable, right? It's a different conversation than just making rifles.

Besides its concealability, what makes the handgun fundamentally different from the AR?

A lot of people are unfamiliar with rifle culture, the old American rifleman idea. A lot of people living in an urban setting like D.C. wouldn't consider slinging an AR-15 on their back. But they would at least think about whether they wanted to have a handgun concealed and made without anyone else's knowledge. This is a question that you ask yourself. And so it's kind of a temptation, an invitation to discourse if you will.

But legally, it's more interesting to me, because the handgun is at the center of what was protected in the [2008] Heller decision. Whereas AR-15s may not ever be backed up by the Supreme Court, there's no way of getting around, right now, the protections that the Supreme Court gave to the handgun.

How are the courts approaching this question?

Well, I'm not an appellate lawyer, but the main controversy is whether the ARs meet the test developed in Heller. We've seen many courts now be like, "Of course assault weapons aren't protected by the Second Amendment," when the original controversy was, "Maybe the Supreme Court won't approve of handguns because they're not militia weapons."

The vocabulary of the Second Amendment in these cases is reversed, because from an actual philosophical standpoint, the basis of the Second Amendment is about access to military-grade weapons—freeholders having access to military-grade arms for purposes of resistance. But the Supreme Court has defined the right to be more about home protection, self-protection, concealability, or carrying a weapon.

Have you received major pushback on your release of handgun files from either the federal government or anti-gun organizations?

Cody Wilson. Photo by Mark McDaniel.Cody Wilson. Photo by Mark McDaniel.I'll tell you something, man: The more and more we proceed into the actuality of this world we've always been suggesting—that the internet will serve you guns and you will download them—the less and less there's been actual resistance. It's just kind of a fait accompli. I hate to say, like, "OK, job done." Obviously that's not the case. We're in a large federal lawsuit against the State Department right now. But that extends back to 2013, when a lot of this was more abstract. Now I can ship gun machines that can help you crank out 1911s in your kitchen all day long, and no one has anything to say about it. Because what is there to say about it?

Handguns are used in more murders across the U.S. than anything else. How do you feel about that?

To your point, if there's a gun problem in this country, it's located around the handgun. That's the center of gun crime. But the paradoxical thing is that [handguns are] still considered the core of the Second Amendment right now.

So is gun control dead?

Gun control can never die, because it lives in the hearts of men. No, gun control is not dead. Gun control is undead. We just keep killing it but it keeps coming back.

But recently there's been very little pushback. Post-Vegas, post–San Antonio—why do you think the reaction has changed since the initial media psychotic breakdown in 2013?

Well, 2013's media event was not a breakdown. It was a concerted push. But since Trump won and there are Republican majorities in Congress, it does not move the needle to yell about guns. There was the Orlando nightclub shooting during the campaign, and barring The New York Times' relatively unique front-page editorial on "We should ban guns," most people are just not spending the effort. They know that it's not worth it to fight for it right now. They have to wait for majorities in Congress. People [calling for gun control] are just signaling. It's an understanding of the reality of power.

So is the answer to just print as many guns as possible in the meantime?

That is the method right now. I was convinced Hillary Clinton would win. In my heart of hearts I thought we had very little time to prepare for things. Of course, it still takes time, even if Hillary wins, to appoint her Supreme Court justices and prosecutors and stuff.

[Now] what I see is a couple of years to do a lot of work while major appointments in the government aren't filled. This is good. This is time for us to make a lot of ground up. So I'm trying to take as much of the harvest as I can.

What's your next step?

A lot of what we do revolves around the facts on the ground. Is there going to be relief in my case? Is there not going to be relief in my case? These two things really affect my strategy, and I have answers for both things. But I'm never just going to say what's going to happen. I'm going to try to do it, and try to already be there before anyone can stop me.

Now, I do like to cast brave words before I do things and say, "This is what I'm going to do. Please try to stop me." And no one's been quite able to yet. But as you can imagine, the words of this company, Defense Distributed—I like to prove those words out.

What issues are at hand with your court case? What does the gun-printing community have on the line?

A lot of people think this is a Second Amendment case, and I can see why. But really it's a First Amendment case. It's about a statute that restricts various forms of speech based on their content. ITAR is basically looking at something that you're going to say and giving government the authority to evaluate it and approve it before you're allowed to say it.

And why is a 3D-printed gun speech?

I'm not saying guns are speech. What we developed and shared online was not the gun, it was the files that could create the gun. The pieces of software that could be used. Sharing that software was a political speech act, and because it can be changed and evaluated and understood by humans, the software itself is speech.

What results from either a win or a loss in the courts?

Well, let's be realistic. No one's stopping what they're doing because of my case. You can go to plenty of websites right now—GrabCAD, lots of big public sites, not pirate sites—that have tons of gun files. If anything, it's like nothing's changed except the fact that we weren't as productive a company in the years since. So all the gun-printing groups besides ours continued to do their work. They're just more limited because they're not as capable.

I notice waning interest on the gun-printing forums.

There's waning interest because the technical development hasn't proceeded from where it was in 2014. There's two reasons: Commercial 3D printing has stalled in terms of the available materials and affordability. And real engineering talent isn't really participating. You've got a certain kind of gun enthusiast, machine-shop enthusiast. But you need companies like mine that are willing to bridge the gap between the hobbyist and the professional level. And unfortunately we're embroiled in our own stuff.

I've printed stuff, man, that takes it to a level you're not quite ready for. But I'm not able to share it and make use of it the way I want. In the meantime, these other groups can't quite catch up. They don't have the capital, they don't have the engineering, they're only doing it part-time. So they stick to the same track from a few years ago, and that's fine.

In a broad sense, what makes the stuff you've designed different from these guys? Is it materials?

Yeah, it's materials. These guys don't have access to Markforged technology. They don't have access to the Onyx material, for example. Engineering nylon with carbon fiber, Kevlar, fiberglass—they haven't really worked with this stuff yet. Maybe they've done some sintering here and there. But even in our earliest days, when we were just beginning and helping to foster some of these groups, we were doing [stereolithography] printing. We were doing epoxies, acrylics, all the different types of [fused deposition modeling], a little bit of ceramic. I mean, you have to be more than a tinkerer. You have to assume it as an identity and bring in the capital. And it's OK these people want to do it part-time. But, you know, part-time vision, part-time results.

"Now I can ship gun machines that can help you crank out 1911s in your kitchen all day long, and no one has anything to say about it."

So who is working on your case?

Our lead appellate attorney is Alan Gura, and he's been with us for pretty much the whole time. From the earliest days of me getting into trouble. The Second Amendment Foundation is the co-plaintiff. Alan Gottlieb, I'm grateful to have his help. We have Josh Blackman and we have Matthew Goldstein, my export attorney, who I trust greatly. We have Fish & Richardson as local counsel—a good tech firm here in Austin. And we have others who assist, but that's the main team.

What's it like working with Alan Gura?

Expensive. No, it's great. Alan Gura's a true civil libertarian. He's got a great mind, and he's such a performer, too—a very capable appellate attorney. It's really a joy to watch him work. He believes in what he's doing. I didn't know about his practice when I was in law school, but it's really inspiring. For a young lawyer or someone who wants to become an appellate attorney, Alan Gura is a great example. But even so, it's cautionary. Because this is probably one of the best appellate attorneys you're going to find, and the federal courts still treat the Second Amendment like garbage. You know? So you can be the best, you can have dead-nuts perfect legal arguments, and they're still a bunch of dogs. That's how it is.

What's going on with the U.S. political climate right now, in your opinion? You push decentralized solutions in an increasingly centralized world. Where are we going and how do ideas like yours fit into things?

Our answer is a war on power itself, I think. It's done flamboyantly with guns, but the real battle is in payments, merchant acquisition services. We've seen in the past few months, especially after Charlottesville and these other events, that Google, Facebook, Apple—these companies, they really control the main flows of information and discourse and social exchange. And they can decide, at will, who isn't able to participate. I swear to God, less than an hour ago I just lost two PayPal accounts. Just, bam, like that. They can make that call. They froze 900 bucks and I have 1,700 more pending. I don't get to participate in the closed loop of American finance.

We have things like bitcoin, which is amazing and speaks for itself now. Everybody's paying attention and everyone will keep paying attention. But it's this corporatist stranglehold over social norms that bothers me. That seems to be what's happening in politics. Everything else is just this charade of Trumpism and the tweets and the journalists just rinsing and repeating their outrage cycles. It gets boring. You keep up with it every single day—and I admit that I do—it's going to make you a madman. The way the news cycle is, it's just going to destroy your mind.

I don't think anything meaningful politically will happen from this Congress. And that's great, actually, from a libertarian point of view. With the media and these corporations controlling [information] flows, there's something like civil war conditions being created. A lot of people feel it.

Are you excited for it?

Am I excited? No. It really sucks. Look, I have a love of getting in trouble. I really do enjoy it—because it's a process, and I know that it kind of sharpens you and makes your thinking clearer. But it is such a pain in the ass to try to exist in this world at this time with these companies. I have not built a company that hasn't been kicked off PayPal. I lost MailChimp the other day because, "Oh, guns are bad. Hate is bad." What is this childish thinking? I hate Silicon Valley so much. I hate D.C. more, but they're not as powerful as Silicon Valley, and they know it. Everyone knows it. I'm just so tired sometimes of living in this moment. Because we could do so much, but people don't want to play ball with us.

Speaking of Silicon Valley, have you had any pushback from Google or YouTube in your marketing efforts? Because they have gone thermonuclear on all gun content and anything deemed "dangerous."

Some pushback from Google, with their advertising policies. YouTube censors in a different way. You can post your content most of the time, at least in my experience. But monetization is the real question for a lot of people. How can I post my content and make a living? Well, on YouTube, [because of Google's advertising policies] increasingly the answer is, you can't.

Because this cascade of censoriousness flows. And everyone each in their own turn inherits what they believe is the mantle of protecting or preserving American discourse or habits of mind. But eventually that river runs dry and you get me again.

Are there ways to route around corporate censorship?

If there's hope for the future of the political, it's something like ours. You can deplatform, censor, demonetize, cast aspersions and social opprobrium, and lock down our domains and it doesn't matter. The internet is big enough. The jurisdictions are numerous enough. Set up a server in Hong Kong. Use [the Chinese payment service] Alipay. There's no way to really bully people off the internet. If anything, you create the kind of community that you feared might exist if you hadn't done it.

Is that what we're seeing with the rise of the alt-right?

I feel like, yeah, this is the problem of this moment. Libertarians are often ill-equipped philosophically [to respond to the fact] that, no matter what, democratic liberal norms lead to tyranny. And we've always wondered in history, why?

Luckily, we get to live in our own little Weimar moment and see, "Oh, this is why. Because the Democrats are boorish censors and they want to destroy whole ways of thinking and ruin people's social lives." And that literally creates Nazis, it turns out. Who'd have guessed?

Are we heading toward tyranny? Is it irreversible?

Buddy, we're on the A train. I think we passed it a little ways ago, actually. We've built this huge surveillance apparatus and this huge police state, and it ain't slowing down. ISIS is gone and so [the philosopher Jean] Baudrillard tells us now the state turns towards its own.

Are you next?

It's going to eat us all.

Is there any hope of escaping that? Does the internet offer some sort of way out through services like bitcoin?

I don't really believe in an exit the way that people preach exit. You have to live in the world. I'll repeat that: You have to be of this world.

Exit is too much like internet utopianism—a relief from the pressures of actually existing democracy and capitalism. I don't think what we're doing here is utopian. What we're doing actually changes what is possible. You can make a 1911 [handgun] in your kitchen, or naked in your bathtub if you want, and no one has to know. It's really cool, and that wasn't true last year in the way that it's true now. We're adding to the coordinates of the possible.

A lot of people don't want to interact in that domain. They want to interact on social media. They want to interact at abstract levels of power—to work 30 years so that they can get onto a congressional subcommittee and then pull the levers of power. We're pulling them directly, right here in Austin, Texas.

There's a certain romance and a political realism simultaneously in projects like ours. We don't just read all day and think about the future. We try to make it.

What's going to be the next advance in 3D printing?

I'm not a prophet of 3D printing or anything. I'll watch the trends. There's a lot of stuff to experiment with. The task is using carbon. The task is using stuff that approximates metals and its impact strength. Finding printables that can withstand the hoop stresses that barrels need to withstand.

Are we going to reach a point where we can reliably print barrels? I'm kind of skeptical.

There's a Liberator on my bookshelf in there that shoots .380 all day long. That's made out of [fused deposition modeling, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene] plastic—Lego plastic, dude. It's quite easy to make gun barrels. The question is proofing. The question is commercial quality and caliber.

And are we talking about .308 here? Are we talking about 7.62 [semi-automatic rifle ammunition]? What do you want to shoot? There's a great 3D-printed revolver that shot .22 with a two-part plastic compound. Great gun. That's all you need. The question of barrels there is answered. It's completely adequate, completely fine.

What's next for Defense Distributed?

Everything. We're going to win our case. It doesn't mean we have to win it in court. We'll win it in the court of public opinion. And that doesn't mean that public opinion will agree with us. We'll win by default.

That's how it's been: Everybody's acclimated to the idea of 3D-printed guns. It's a joke now. There's hip hop videos about it. It's an aggregated part of the culture. That is victory.

This interview has been condensed and edited for style and clarity. For a video version, visit reason.com.

Photo Credit: Mark McDaniel

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  • SQRLSY One||

    Cody Wilson is one brave guy!

    I am not; I am chickenshit! But, at least I will tell you how to stay on the GOOD side of Government Almighty, by NOT building an EXTREMELY dangerous, regulated device known as a "lung flute"! And since I am VERY concerned about helping you to stay on the GOOD side of Government Almighty, I will tell you EXACTLY how NOT to build this monstrous device!

    See devious details at http://www.churchofsqrls.com/DONT_DO_THIS/ ...

  • Chip Woodier||

    Was I the only one who, at first, was concerned you were advocating the use of parasites? Now, though, I am wondering what happened to Tom and Karen.

  • SQRLSY One||

    "helminthic therapy" is medical use of parasites; worms in this case. The FDA won't hear of it, although it is used in other nations. "Helminthic therapy" is your go-to Google term.

    In all honesty, I suspect that Tom and Karen (and / or their hosting web sites) got threatened with lawsuits, for their terrible crimes (such as patent violations). That's probably why you can't find their "stuff" any more. I doubt that they are languishing in jail... But you never know!

  • SQRLSY One||

    "Helminthic therapy" is of interest to me; so is "radiation hormesis".

    On radioactive wastes (ionizing radiation), Google "radiation hormesis", and see USA government study of the Taiwan thing (accidental experiment on humans) at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm.....MC2477708/ … Low-dose radioactivity is actually GOOD for you! Seriously!!!
    On "helminthic therapy", AKA gut parasite worms are GOOD for you, too, see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20054982 (USA government again) or others …
    Well anyway, WHAT is a summary of what I am saying? I thought I heard you asking about that, through my tri-cornered aluminum-foil hat, as I am sitting here…

    HERE is your summary: Holyweird is WAY off base, with their horror movies! A Giant Gut-Parasitical Radioactive Teenage Mutant Ninja Tapeworm would be GOOD for us!!! Bring it ON, ah says!!!

  • Doug Huffman||

    Eschew G00gle, better, eschew Alphabet!!

  • SQRLSY One||

    PS, I wouldn't object one tiny bit if my web-site contents got "mirrored" on other web sites, especially http://www.churchofsqrls.com/DONT_DO_THIS/ contents...

  • Cy||

    Laws are there for the government to use as leverage against whomever they choose. Most of the time, sadly, it's not against the people they should.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Yeah man, amen! They SHOULD go after those who are the maximum genuine danger to those around them, as evidenced by their bad past behavior. We can NOT read people's minds, and shouldn't try and pretend that we do. Case in point, courts on a regular basis today decide whether or not our religious beliefs are "sincerely held". Assholes can NOT read my mind, so quit pretending!!!

    They should NOT go after those who challenge the righteousness of Government Almighty, on a regular basis... BUT, that is what they so often do!

  • SQRLSY One||

    SUMMARY: Go after the doers of bad deeds, and leave alone, the "sayers of bad words".

    Such ancient wisdom has been around since I ate trilobites for breakfast!!! WHERE and HOW did we get such a simple thing all wrong?!?!?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    In the case of America, laws were envisioned to be limited and tied to a restricted government both at the federal and state level. The Constitution was supposed to be an authority to grant government power but limit most of the possible power to a few tasks, like national defense, regulating immigration and naturalization, roads, coining money, and settling disputes between states.

    We The People have let politicians trample the constitution and its limitations for various reasons. Laws are not the problem per se but how many and oppressive the laws are.

  • Old Mexican - Mostly Harmless||

    Re: loveconstitution1789,

    Laws are not the problem per se but how many and oppressive the laws are.


    At least you tacitly concede that the Trumpista trope "deez eez a nation of lawz!" which is used to justify a busybody policy against entrepreneurs who peacefully and voluntarily hire "illegulz" is based on a total misunderstanding of what laws are supposed to be.

  • Ken Shultz||

    If I had a Fight For Freedom Award to give out over the last few years to American entrepreneurs who struck a big blow for freedom, Cody Wilson would win one for sure.

    The Lavabit guy, Ladar Levison, who famously shut his encrypted email service down when forced to hand over the service's encryption keys to the government would win one, too--pending the total completion of his Dark Internet Mail Environment, which minimizes metadata and leaves email services with nothing to send the government when they're served with a subpoena.

    Wouldn't it be awful if we had to depend on politicians for our freedom? Thank goodness for people like Cody Wilson--always pushing our freedom further out of the government's reach.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    And Phil Zimmerman of PGP fame.

  • mtrueman||

    "If I had a Fight For Freedom Award to give out over the last few years to American entrepreneurs who struck a big blow for freedom, Cody Wilson would win one for sure."

    A fight for foolishness is more like it. The quality of printed guns is vastly inferior to those manufactured by non-printing methods. If don't need to ever discharge the weapon, a printed gun would do just fine. If, god forbid, you think you may need to fire it at some time, go with something you can depend on. A reputable manufacturer should be able to do you right,

  • Agammamon||

    Geeeezus Krist!

    You're absolutely right - we've been technologically stagnant for 10 millennia now. Who in the world could possibly envision a future where iterative improvements in this technology could get us to the point where home 3d printing is not only viable but the major source of manufactured goods?

    That's just preposterous. May as well start wishing self-driving cars or heavier-than-air-flight, or the ability to network computers globally.

  • Agammamon||

    Also, I don't think you read the article. Cody is fighting to be able to distribute a single-purpose *CNC* machine, not a 3d printer.

    As for the weapons made by CNC - its only the 'go-to' method used by actual manufacturing companies for at least a generation now. Its how the weapons for sale in your local gun store were made.

  • Morbo||

    Metal 3d printing exists, and guns have already been made with it. It's still under patent, however, which is why it hasn't yet taken off like plastic 3d printing did. Only one company can make them, and they're pretty damn big and expensive because they're designed for industrial applications.

    As soon as the patent expires, you can expect them to get as small as a home CNC mill. Maybe as small as some plastic 3d printers.

    So it's not even a case of not being able to envision what might be possible with 3d printing in the future, as it's pretty much possible right now. The only thing in the way at the moment is IP law.

  • mtrueman||

    You're a fool if you think a printed gun is an adequate substitute for a real one.

  • Morbo||

    You're a fool if you think that will be the case for long.

  • Ken Shultz||

    What if it's just the lower, mtrueman?

    Do you not understand what that means?

    There are polymer 80% AR-10 lowers that use reinforced metal parts and do just fine. Why wouldn't a metal lower stand up?

    P.S. I doubt most AR-15s ever have more than a couple thousand rounds run through them because of the expense of ammunition.

  • mtrueman||

    My advice, if you are planning to discharge a firearm, discharge a reliable firearm. For your own safety. Anyone you come up against, be he cop or robber, is going to have a real gun. Best not to face them with an unreliable hobbyist gun.

  • Cyto||

    Probably too late for this to be seen, but there is a difference between a spooled plastic 3D printer and the latest industrial laser scintered 3D printing.

    Spacex makes a good chunk of their Super Draco thrusters using 3D printing, and those things produce over 16k lbs. of thrust. The forces those 3D printed parts can experience dwarf anything that a lower receiver is every going to see.

    Like everything, it is about the right tool for the job. There is a wide array of 3d printing tools available.

    From the Wiki:

    It was announced in May 2014 that the flight-qualified version of the SuperDraco engine is the first[clarification needed] fully 3D printed rocket engine. In particular, the engine combustion chamber is printed of Inconel, an alloy of nickel and iron, using a process of direct metal laser sintering, and operates at a chamber pressure 6,900 kilopascals (1,000 psi) at a very high temperature.[clarification needed] The engines are contained in a printed protective nacelle to prevent fault propagation in the event of an engine failure.

    If you can make a hypergolic rocket combustion chamber using Inconel, you can make just about anything related to a firearm. That's as tough an environment as you are ever likely to find.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I do all my own repairs and service on my own motorcycle. Do you know why?

    Because my life depends on making sure it's done right and everything is torqued to spec properly. Why would I trust someone else with my life like that?

    I bought an old motorcycle once that had been upgraded by the manufacturer with an electric starting motor. The original design was for a kick starter. They also added a "safety feature", where the it wouldn't let you start the bike with the kickstand down. Forgetting to put the kickstand up before they take off is a common cause of new riders accidents.

    One little problem: when they added the cut off to start the bike when the kickstand was down, (it may have been a government requirement) they wired it to the ignition rather than the starter. This meant that when you were riding down the freeway in high winds, at 65+ mph, and the force of the wind was high enough to push the kickstand down by a quarter of an inch while you were riding, the motorcycle would suddenly cut off in the middle of traffic barreling down behind you. That's one hell of a safety feature, isn't it!

    Took me less than five minutes to rewire that bike so that wasn't a problem anymore.

  • Ken Shultz||

    That you would trust your life more readily to someone else rather than yourself is telling. I have more confidence eating fish I've caught and cleaned myself than whatever somebody serves me up at the local grocery store, too.

    Learn to do some things for yourself if you have no self-confidence. Deferring to others because your safety is on the line is absurd. If your safety is on the line, you should probably do it for yourself.

  • mtrueman||

    Is there nothing you can't do?

  • operagost||

    A "hobbyist" gun is better than no gun, which is what we're going to have someday thanks to the leftists and the alt-right.

  • EvilWayz||

    Polymer lowers have been working just fine for years. Ever heard of a pistol called the Glock that has a polymer grame? Hell, I had a lower by Plum Crazy where everything except the springs in the lower were polymer.

  • Agammamon||

    You're a fool if you think that has anything to do with the article.

  • Agammamon||

    You're also a fool if you don't understand the difference between the lower receiver and the rest of the firearm.

  • Agammamon||

    You're also a fool if you don't understand the difference between the lower receiver and the rest of the firearm.

  • Agammamon||

    You're also a fool if you don't understand the difference between the lower receiver and the rest of the firearm.

  • Agammamon||

    The skwerlz have spoken.

  • mtrueman||

    You want to face down a properly armed adversary with an unreliable hobby gun, that's fine with me. I've advised against it, but you're free to do as you wish.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    That's still not the point of the article.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "You want to face down a properly armed adversary with an unreliable hobby gun"

    You calling it unreliable doens't make it so.

  • mtrueman||

    "You calling it unreliable doens't make it so."

    A printed gun is reliable as long as you're not considering discharging it. If you simply want to keep it in its display case and fondle it from time to time, it's completely reliable, just like the models manufactured by reputable makers.

  • ||

    Generally agree with him, but "Democrats...creates Nazis" is the dumbest take I've seen this week. Censorship leads to gas ovens is ludicrous.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Lack of freedom leads to more lack of freedom... But yes, "slippery slope" arguments are easy to abuse. "Here, I am going to have to take away your glass of water from you, 'cause next thing you know, you'll be drinking our oceans dry", is a favorite example of mine.

    Still, I know some Democrats personally, who are very nice people. But elect them into political power, and they won't be mean and nasty enough to tax the living shit out of people, enough to make their policies work. So they will rapidly be replaced by the likes of Stalin, who WILL kill enough people to extract enough taxes to (somewhat) make their policies "work". So to that extent, the slippery slope is sometimes true.

  • Longtobefree||

    Stalin killed a lot of people, but he usually sent them to work camps to get the maximum economic value from them as they died.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Yeah, the process he describes is too long. It all happens with tje censors themselves.

  • Agammamon||

    The desire to control leads to Nazis. Desire to control leads to censorship - and that desire to control inevitably leads to gas oven (or gulags or Siberian exile or simply being lined up next to a ditch and shot en-masse - pick your poison).

  • JoeBlow123||

    Authoritarianism has existed for a very long time with varying levels of success without the executive authority needing to stoop to genocide. Not sure this path follows like you say.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    The point is that authoritarianism has the capacity for genocide, because it's the ultimate Authority. Authoritarianism has existed without genocide because that particular authoritarianism didn't find a need for it, but the moment authoritarians find the need for it, it will put it into practice, and put into practice quite easily.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    "Censorship leads to gas ovens is ludicrous."

    Censorship is a component of what leads into gas ovens. Just as disarming the people is.

  • operagost||

    You might want to look up who the historical political enemies of the NSDAP were in Weimar Germany.

    I'll wait.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    There's this notion some have that, as long as we have the means as individuals to do a thing, it doesn't matter if that thing is outlawed; we've won. Does it feel like the drug war is won right now?

  • SQRLSY One||

    Generally, we've not won REAL freedom till "XYZ" is legalized, and Government Almighty can NOT legally punish us for it.

    The drug war is maybe 1/4th or 1/8th won, for freedom, just for pot alone... It will be 7/8th won, when USA armed services people can toke weed as easily and often (w/o punishment) as they drink booze, today. That's another 20 to 30 years away, at the rate we are going now. "IMHO"...

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Or that the internet has really disintermediated? How's that youtube channel or facebook page going? Be a real shame if something were to happen to it.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Or that the internet has really disintermediated? How's that youtube channel or facebook page going? Be a real shame if something were to happen to it.

  • AlmightyJB||

    This is what a real patriot looks like.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Keep up the good fight Cody! 2nd Amendment always!

  • dave b.||

    I don't have anything against this guy, but 80% lowers are nothing new and you can make the same untraceable weapon with a mill and a drill press. You can buy a jig online to line up the holes, and you can also make one into full automatic if you're into the federal felony thing. This has been going on as long as I can remember.

  • Old Mexican - Mostly Harmless||

    The important point is the futility of gun prohibition legislation. It actually makes people less safe as more unregistered weapons can flood the market rather than less. Gun-grabbers merely respond to their own prejudices rather than looking at the issue dispassionately.

  • dave b.||

    I think both the left and right know there won't be any meaningful legislation at this point. There are too many licensed AR owners, and no one would turn theirs in even if TOP MEN could automagically make them illegal tomorrow.

  • AzD||

    "licensed AR owners"?

    WTF

  • Marty Feldman's Eyes||

    The funny thing is I think the overhyping of 3D printing has greatly raised awareness of the prior existence of CNC mills.

  • Agammamon||

    Its not the 80% lower - its that he's created a machine capable of doing this that is in the reach of the average person. Most of us can't afford a full-featured CNC (which could do this and a lot more). This is a single-purpose machine at low cost that the average Joe could afford to buy on a whim.

  • TGoodchild||

    But what does Michael Hihn think?

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    Maybe this article finally made his head explode.

  • Grifhunter||

    Not rage, just an historical point of reference: At the time of the revolution, many citizens has more lethal small arms than that of the regular army. The Kentucky rifles were more accurate and able to reach out and touch someone lethal at greater distances than the crude smooth bore muskets that the regular army was issued.

    If the founders wanted the civilian weapons kept at home to be of inferior firepower and lethality, they could have said so.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    "raging bullshit"

    What is, "Everything Dumbfuck Hihnsano types"?

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Dumbfuck Hihnsano is too stupid to understand what "everything" means.
    (chortle)

  • ||

    It is particularly wrongheaded to read Miller for more than what it said, because the case did not even purport to be a thorough examination of the Second Amendment. Justice Scalia

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    I provide links to Miller and Scalia

    The latter of which you won't read past page 1.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Dumbfuck Hihnsano hates this part of the Heller ruling:

    3. The handgun ban and trigger lock requirement (as applied to self-defense) violate the Second Amendment.

  • TribalDruid||

    You said, "EXPLICITLY rejects military weapons"

    It states no such thing. In fact it argues "explicitly" for the complete opposite.

    The point in Miller, which you failed to cite, is this sentence:

    "Certainly it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment, or that its use could contribute to the common defense. Aymette v. State, "

    The ruling was related to a sawed-off shotgun. The conclusion (by citing a former case) that such a weapon was inferior in its capacity to contribute to the "common defense" could not be any clearer. They actually argued that the weapon was not up-to-par in its ability to provide for the common defense. It was not part of the "ordinary military equipment" and so was rejected.

    You said, "RESTRICTED to weapons brought from home."

    Nowhere within the quote you offer does it say that arms are "RESTRICTED" to weapons brought from home. The text simply mentions that "ordinarily" (meaning a general method, but not restricted to) when men were called forth from the Militia, they were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves ""OR"" of the kind in common use at the time. There is no restriction when it obviously states that they may come from home OR of a kind in common use.

  • TribalDruid||

    Now you also bolded the point about the Militia set in contrast to Troops (a standing army). I'm not sure what your purpose for this was, as it just reiterates the differences between the common collective of able-bodied men who are to be well-regulated amongst themselves and the Troops under the directive of Congress. Two contrasting and very different things.

  • TribalDruid||

    Lastly, to address your misinterpretation of Scalia, I'm going to post the entire quote in context and then proceed to break it down in a concise way so that you can comprehend without a shadow of a doubt what was actually stated:

    It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service—M–16 rifles and the like—may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause. But as we have said, the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment's ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty. It may well be true today that a militia, to be as effective as militias in the 18th century, would require sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at large. Indeed, it may be true that no amount of small arms could be useful against modern-day bombers and tanks. But the fact that modern developments have limited the degree of fit between the prefatory clause and the protected right cannot change our interpretation of the right.
  • TribalDruid||

    What is their interpretation of the right? It is that "the body of all citizens capable of military service" have the right to possess arms "of a kind in common use".

    The fact that the protected right (to possess arms "in common use") may not always fit perfectly with the prefatory clause (ensuring the effectiveness of the militia) does not change what the right is (to possess arms "in common use"). Put differently, although the right was codified to ensure the effectiveness of the militia, even the "weapons that are most useful in military service" are only protected if they are "in common use." The language is unambiguous, and it is perfectly consistent with Heller's holding that the Second Amendment protects handguns based on their popularity.

    Heller never said "weapons that are most useful in military service" are not constitutionally protected. Heller simply provided a hypothetical to make the point that even if "weapons that are most useful in military service" are "highly unusual in society at large" and therefore not "in common use," it does not change the fact that the amendment protects those arms that are "in common use".

  • Longtobefree||

    A lower receiver is the part generally considered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to be the "firearm," whether other components are present or not.

    Of course, it is not a firearm, it is just a piece of metal. But the alleged rule of law let's some damn fool at BATFE say a piece of metal is a firearm, and we pretend it is so. To quote Tarzan, "you can call a jackal a lion, but it will not make him brave".

    I am surprised the democrats have not passed a law repealing 25% of the law of gravity, so cars will be lighter and get better mileage.

  • Agammamon||

    Your car, as far as the law is concerned, is the VIN. Your house is the title. Same concept. And its better this way - imagine if everytime you modified your car in any way (even simply tinting the windows) you had to report that.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I would argue that's kind of what we have now. Your AK-47 has to have a minimum number of American Parts in it to be legal. People more versed in the AK-47 the than I point out that sometimes the magazine, being American-made is the final American part that makes the gun legal. As one person I know pointed out, if you remove the magazine from the weapon, is the weapon still legal?

  • Ken Shultz||

    That's what everyone wants to know.

  • JoeBlow123||

    Dude is a trip. Enjoyed the interview.

  • IceTrey||

    Why buy his expensive mill when you can just buy an 80% polymer AR lower or handgun frame for $80 and finish it with hand tools in 30 minutes? His thing is a solution in search of a problem.

    https://www.polymer80.com

  • Brett Bellmore||

    I'd hope the thing is a little bit more versatile than just doing the last 20% on a frame.

    Have to be able to start from non-precision blocks of metal, though, not just mostly finished parts, in order to really mean anything. It's too obvious that he's just exploiting regulatory stupidity that could easily be patched.

    Somebody with a home shop and some skill can turn raw metal into finished guns. That's the real killer of gun control, not specialized tools to finish mostly complete parts that are unregulated by legislative brain fart.

  • Agammamon||

    Because polymer lowers have a lot of problems to the point that they require a decent amount of skill to finish and they tend to be (for now at least) more expensive because they still require metal reinforcement in their structure which increases manufacturing complexity and cost.

    While the DD machine is basically pop-in and go - no real skill required at all.

  • IceTrey||

    None of that is true. The Polymer 80 AR lower costs $80 including the jig and bits. All you need is a drill press. An X/Y vise is nice but not necassary.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    As a vagina, I find Cody Wilson terrifying.

  • silver.||

    "Everything. We're going to win our case. It doesn't mean we have to win it in court. We'll win it in the court of public opinion. And that doesn't mean that public opinion will agree with us. We'll win by default.

    That's how it's been: Everybody's acclimated to the idea of 3D-printed guns. It's a joke now. There's hip hop videos about it. It's an aggregated part of the culture. That is victory."

    I respect this. I've tried arguing that "the knowledge is out there," a few times to no avail. People turn off their brains when it comes to firearms.

    What are the chances of them regulating the 80% lowers like they do precursors/reagents in the drug war? Lowers are just chunks of steel, but many "drug chemicals" are just .. chemicals. I think they've cracked down on borosilicate Pyrex glassware because of meth labs.

    This guy's a little more anarchist than me, but he's shouldering enormous personal risk to aid the fight for the 2nd amendment, and I appreciate that.

    "There's no way to really bully people off the internet. If anything, you create the kind of community that you feared might exist if you hadn't done it."

    Early in the life of the Silk Road, folks were talking about its inevitable takedown and how it'd spawn more heads like a hydra. Ironically, Silk Road banned gun sales after Sandy Hook, and now dedicated weapons markets have appeared. Gonna ignore the 8th and "make an example" of this guy, too?

    Everyone tune up their chippers...

  • AzD||

    "What are the chances of them regulating the 80% lowers like they do precursors/reagents in the drug war?"

    I dunno. Is access to drug precursors protected by the constitution?

  • Texasmotiv||

    Where is the conflict?

  • Texasmotiv||

    Yes, evasion is a perfect description of what you did.

  • Texasmotiv||

    You ask:

    "What happens if 2 absolute rights are in conflict?"

    And 2) in you list is about rights conflicting. For your point to be relevant, the rights would need to be in conflict. Which is why I ask, Where is the conflict?

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Dumbfuck Hihnsano spouts a lot of bullshit, but none of it applies to subject at hand.

  • IceTrey||

    But there is only one human right, to not have force initiated against you.

  • IceTrey||

    What a load of inarticulate drivel.

  • David Nolan Michael Hihn||

    Hey auntie

  • operagost||

    FOOLS use lots of CAPITAL LETTERS to imply TRUTH and WEIGHT to what is actually RAMBLING NONSENSE.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    That's why Dumbfuck Hihnsano chimps out when his contradictory posts are called out.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    The militia brought guns from home. weapons in common use at the time

    Dumbfuck Hihnsano is now leaving out his months-long assertion that only hunting rifles are allowed.

  • operagost||

    Indeed. He's backed into the corner by the nebulous assertion that only "weapons in common use" are accepted. What is in "common use" now? I think more people have AR-15s, and semiautomatic pistols and shotguns in their home for protection than hunting rifles. We are no longer an agrarian society.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Hihntard hates this statement from Scalia:

    3. The handgun ban and trigger lock requirement (as applied to self-defense) violate the Second Amendment.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Dumbfuck Hihnsano is super mad that he's not getting that handgun ban.

  • ace_m82||

    Next, quote (at length) Korematsu v. US, Dred Scott v. Sanford, Wickard v. Filburn, and Plessy v. Ferguson!

    Want to see Hihn defend Nazis? No? Well too bad, here it is:

    www.reason.com/blog/2018/02/21.....nt_7150853

    As the Nazis were elected in 1933, they didn't violate rights. Also, the Jews were free to leave!

    Me: Were the Jews in Germany in the 1940s free to leave?
    Hihn: ANOTHER MASSIVE FUCKUP!!! Of course they could,,.,.and many did. YOU THINK HITLER WANTED THEM TO STAY!!

  • Longtobefree||

    Interesting how one string of ones and zeros can be free speech, and a different string of ones ans zeros can be terrorism.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    "I notice waning interest on the gun-printing forums."

    That's because 3D printing wasn't the revolution the media made it out to be. It was an evolutionary step, not so much a revolutionary step. I'm not suggesting it was an insignificant evolution, but all it did was bring technology that had long been available in the industrial sphere to the home user.

    And like any technology that becomes affordable from the industrial sphere that trickles down to the home users, the quality and precision of materials you can craft are commensurate with the price.

    I'm not saying the 3D printing in the home has no value, I believe it has all the potential value that Cody Wilson says it does, but it's going to be a few years before people are cranking out high-quality items, be they guns or whatever.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Filament deposition printing, (The chief consumer level 3D printing technology.) didn't really take off until a little while after some key patents expired. By that pattern, we should expect consumer level metal printers to take off in the next couple of years.

    The technical requirements *are* a bit more difficult, mind you. Inert atmospheres or vacuum to keep the metal powder from catching fire, for instance.

    OTOH, an easy to build home foundry can leverage plastic printing to metal parts, via lost wax.

  • vavviv||