"It doesn't matter what the origins of the Second Amendment were," says Cody Wilson, creator of the first 3D-printed gun and author of the new book, Come and Take It: The Gun Printer's Guide to Thinking Free. "With the internet, we can transform this thing into right to resistance on a global scale. If it's just a fact that the government serves guns now, this is just a point of political life."
Reason TV visited Wilson at an Austin, Texas-based manufacturing facility of his company Defense Distributed to discuss his new memoir about the creation of first 3D-printed firearm, which he dubbed "The Liberator."
Wilson told Reason TV he plans to push his lawsuit against State Department, which has prohibited him from making the Liberator printing freely available for download on his website, as far as he possibly can. Defense Distributed lost in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in September after the court ruled that national security trumps free speech in this case:
Ordinarily, of course, the protection of constitutional rights would be the highest public interest at issue in a case. That is not necessarily true here, however, because the State Department has asserted a very strong public interest in national defense and national security.
"The government, in certain cases, especially gun cases, gets to just wave around the words 'national security' without making a specific claim," says Wilson. He rejects the State Department's argument that this technology empowers enemies of the nation such as ISIS, pointing out that domestic terrorists have a stock of more than 300 million U.S. guns to pull from and that overseas militants are much more likely to get their hands on arms supplied by the CIA and other government agencies than they are to print off weapons.
Wilson is also pushing ahead with a new project: the Ghost Gunner, a do-it-yourself milling machine that allows anyone to construct an unregistered AR-15 rifle in less than four hours. The machine mills holes in an 80 percent completed metal lower receiver, and then users can attach the other components—easily available for purchase online—using common tools, nuts, and bolts to create a fully functional, unregistered military-grade weapon. The price tag on the Ghost Gunner is $1500, and Wilson says he's already moved thousands of units.
"There's a certain political realism here. If you have the implements, outside of federal observation, for military-grade hardware... you have certain political capabilities that, perhaps, your neighbor does not," says Wilson. "I'm not even sure I'm an anarchist anymore. I feel like I'm almost just, like, the accidental node in something else... something deeper and not at all concerned with the affairs of men."
This interview taped before the 2016 presidential election took place, but Wilson confessed that he's in "complete awe" of Donald Trump, whom he describes as "a genius," "almost completely childish in his complete innocence," and propelled by a "huge, unconscious force." Wilson sees parallels with Trump's rise and the creation of the Liberator. In both cases, says Wilson, a fearful media helped push the phenomenon into existence.
"[The media] don't wait for the actual terror of the event to happen," says Wilson. "They jump into the situation and complete it themselves in this nervous anticipation... The media cannot help themselves. If I can get something 80 percent of the way, they will take it to its completion and then a bit further than that."
Watch the full interview above.
Interview by Zach Weissmueller. Edited by Weissmueller. Camera by Alex Manning and Alexis Garcia. Music by Kai Engel.
INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT: This is a rush transcript. Check against video for accuracy.
reason: Cody Wilson grabbed the nation's attention in 2013 when he posted a video of himself firing the Liberator, the first fully 3D printed firearm. He's now embroiled in an ongoing lawsuit with the State Department over weather or not he can post the printing plans for the Liberator on his company website. He lost his case in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals after they ruled that national security trumps the 1st Amendment right to disseminate information in this case. But Wilson is pushing ahead on the legal front, and with a new project: the Ghost Gunner. A do-it-yourself milling machine that allows you to construct an unregistered AR15 in less than 3 hours without leaving the comfort of your own home. It's available on his website for 250$ and Wilson says he's already moved thousands of units. We met up with Wilson at Defense Distributed's manufacturing headquarters in Austin Texas to talk about the Ghost Gunner, his ongoing lawsuit and his journey from disaffected liberal to crypto anarchist creator of the 3D gun as documented in his new memoir Come and Take It: The Gun Printer's Guide to Thinking Free.
The book on it's most superficial level is a recounting of how the Liberator came to be, but it's also at times, a kind of beautifully written meditation on the nature of the modern nation-state and the position of the dissident thinker within that state. And it's also, kind of, packaged as a kind of how-to guide, not how to make a 3D gun, how to be someone who would think of creating a 3D gun when it didn't exist before. So what exactly were you aiming for with this book?