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An AR-15 in Every Home: 3D Gun Printer Cody Wilson on the Right to Resistance, Hacking the Media, and Trump

Wilson sat down with Reason TV to discuss his new memoir "Come and Take It: The Gun Printer's Guide to Thinking Free."

"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.

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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?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • timbo||

    An AR 15, a couple of pistols, and some shot guns. 22 for fun. Mace and taser for your wife.

    All wise decisions.

  • Zero Sum Game||

    Mace and taser for your wife.

    Required paraphernalia in Trump's America, I'm assured.

    Seriously, though, won't she shoot? I was proud of my wife going to laser tag with her colleagues and placing second. A solid achievement given that she'd turned everyone against her by dominating the match.

  • Swiss Servator||

    These euphemisms!

  • AlmightyJB||

    "Mace and taser for your wife."

    You let her get off her leash?

  • JayWye||

    Make one AR-15 rifle,make one AR handgun (a short-barrel rifle minus the shoulder stock.)
    in a time of civil conflict,one can easily add a stock to the AR handgun,because at that point,you're not concerned about breaking the law.

  • american socialist||

    If he's really concerned about civil liberties he should probably 3D print an abortion clinic

  • mashed potatoes||

    I'm pretty sure you can 3D print a coat hanger..

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Or just 3D print some chicks that can't get pregnant.

  • ||

    I was at the Trump protests in Chicago right after the election. I was amazed at the women who were sure Trump would deny them their god-given right to an abortion, mostly because they were so unattractive that I couldn't see them ever needing an abortion.

  • ||

    Isn't it the joke that they're the ones most worried about getting raped as well?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Google "Andrea Dworkin". I dare you. She claims she was constantly being raped.

  • Real and Legitimate News, Jr.||

  • LV||

    Well, she certainly looks at her best in that picture.

  • timbo||

    This is a thread for gun whackos, no abortion whackos.

  • american socialist||

    I got that. As a non-dogmatic and middle-of-the-road libertarian who hates wars and drug laws and supports reproductive freedom and gay marriage I can live with a community passing a law to restrict gun ownership. I am not a gun nutter and don't think it feasible to push CalExit by getting into a shoot-out with the ATF and/or the FBI.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    If you can live with a community passing a law to restrict gun ownership, can you also live with a community passing a law restricting abortions?

  • timbo||

    If you can live with a community that restricts gun ownership, then you do not understand the principle tenant of the second amendment and the very protection that is was written to afford.

    The value of such a wise right is that it provides a last ditch defense against tyranny. A well armed populous gives pause to the power hungry, out of control government. It does not mean that they simply will not crush dissidents but what it could do is provide truth in action to the people who still have not figured out how morally bankrupt our government is.

    The drafters of the bill of rights, constitution, etc.. knew full well what individual defense against the state meant to a free people.
    Anyone who thinks it is not necessary to have a fully free and armed citizenry is simply ignorant of history. What people who are not dogmatic about total gun freedom cannot understand is that gun owners have a valid fear of the faceless enemy that can take your stuff without ever being brought to justice.

  • Holger da Dane||

    Your right would exist even without a Second Amendment. It's nothing more than a reminder of your natural rights.

    It doesn't need to protect your rights because the Constitution has to specifically mention the powers it grants. And the power to infringe on your right to keep and bear arms isn't in there.

  • timbo||

    I got all that. Point is that without it being a written law or whatever it is, the government scum would have taken away our right to own firearms a long time ago.

  • ProgRejectionSyndrome||

    "american socialist"... "non-dogmatic"... "middle-of-the-road libertarian"... Hahahahahahahahah. Oxymoron much bro-diggity-dog?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    He talks about just that.

  • Brian||

    It's not hard to DIY kill babies.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    Wild carrot seeds. That stuff grows everywhere.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    OK, we get it, 3D printing is cool. No disrespect to Cody Wilson, but what is this, like the 20th article about him on this site? Yet not even one article about Maj Toure of Black Guns Matter?

  • ||

    Not affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement

    Not to short BGM, (thanks for the link!) but I'm beginning to see 3D printing as the vehicle for delivering his more intrinsically anti-state-leaning message. I agree BGM should get more coverage. I'm leery that, through no fault of their own exactly, it won't be more divisive.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    That's too Urban for most Reason writers. I mean, imagine Robby Soave sitting across from this guy...

    They'd have to bring in Kmele on special assignment.

    I could do the story, but then I'd get accused of cultural appropriation.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    I could listen to Cody talk all day. Reason should interview him once a week. Better yet, give the man a talk show. He is like a Prophet of the Left Hand Path of Technology.

  • Tionico||

    Make this guy head of BATF. Then watch the proggies and leftwingnuts go berko. Both would be fun.

  • synfinatic||

    FYI, the Ghost Gunner isn't $250. That's just the deposit. Total price is $1500.

  • DaveSs||

    The automated 80% lower mill he is selling is $1250, not $250 actually.

    The 250 is just a deposit

  • american socialist||

    There's an under-girding moral force in our politics that's just kind of assigned and, or assumed without question. This is often the ethical ideology of progress, that technological progress is 'good', that it has a 'good' moral force and that we do good things when we contribute to the technology enabling the democratic. All of these assumptions are incorrect. When people say 'oh you know we'll be on the right side of history.' They kind of expect or play along with this idea that technology has a progressive force with history and everything is leading towards some kind of cohesive whole, this integrationist idea that history is eventually moving toward, you know, 'we're all getting smarter, we're all getting better, everything's getting better, politics is getting not as, you know, not as conflicted.' Politics now is about totally eradicating the forces of difference and antagonism and indeed I would argue the essence of politics itself. We are striving toward, in our moral progressivism, our ethical ideology, we are striving toward an age where politics is kind of after the fact. A post-political era where, look what we're not, you know, Hillary Clinton's arguing look 'borders, whatever, culture, whatever, those are just points of conflict, we're part of a global integrationist whole, we are stronger together.' Alright? This is her Hegelian unionism."

    OK, OK, OK... can someone 3D print me a gun so I can put it to my head and pull the trigger as many times as possible?

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    *runs out to buy a 3-D printer

  • american socialist||

    Send your contact info to lionel_hutz@hushmail.com. That's where I'm receiving correspondence from Hyperion's lawyer.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    *runs out to buy a 3-D printer

  • RAHeinlein||

    Where is Reason on this developent - ad agency blocking Breitbart for hate speech:

    http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-38076579

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    I LOVED The Door Into Summer! I know it was kind of a YA novel, but it really resonated with me.

  • Je suis Woodchipper||

    AppNexus has not given examples.
    But a spokesman said a "human audit" of Breitbart had flagged several articles that had caused it concern because of the language they had featured.

    oh, i didn't realize AppNexus was one of those feel-good morality stocks.

    It noted that AppNexus' investors included Microsoft, News Corp and Sir Martin Sorrell's WPP.

    not for long.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    FYI, the Ghost Gunner isn't $250. That's just the deposit. Total price is $1500.

    But you'll make it back in no time, selling AR-15s out of the trunk of your car, down at the junior high.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    There's an under-girding moral force in our politics that's just kind of assigned and, or assumed without question.

    In your case, I call it "Gimme-ism".

  • The Late P Brooks||

    That's a mighty fine word salad you tossed up, amsoc.

  • american socialist||

    I didn't write it.

  • american socialist||

    But I agree!

  • Zunalter||

    That's a clip of the interview.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Cody Wilson: DARLING OF THE ALT-RIGHT!

  • Cdr Lytton||

    An AR-15 in Every Home unless mommy (or anyone else) calls the 3D printer retailer and asks them not to sell it. Right, Ken?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I like Wilson. And I agree with his broad view of humanity and the political climate. But he has a way of speaking that makes me want to give him a finger-snap applause after every phrase.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    He has a brilliant mind and you have to keep attention to keep up. He is a specialist, linguistically speaking, which means his word associations are self-generated, rather than acquired from others. Generalists find specialists harder to understand. However, libertarians tend to be specialists, in my experience, so most of us here probably have a better chance of understanding him than the general population. Just look at amsoc's confusion. He has no idea what Cody is talking about.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I find it hard to describe. He occasionally sounds like he's dangerously veering towards the Sokal parody speak, but when I parse it and really listen to what he's saying, I understand it and it makes sense. I think he throws in a few unnecessary fluff words, but his thesis is rock solid.

  • Je suis Woodchipper||

    $1500 for the luxury of walking away for 4 hours and coming back to a finished lower. How many can it do before needing parts replaced?

  • JayWye||

    the only reason someone would spend $1500 on a CNC mill like that would be to make many finished lowers,thus becoming a "manufacturer",and needing the appropriate Federal license.

  • SamHell||

    Looks like there are already multiple weapons you can mil. Ar 10 is available and they are working on a 1911. It's a mini cnc machine for crying out loud, they arent going to limit it to 1 product. Plus it looks like it could fit in a Go Bag ;P

  • Tejicano||

    I'm not sure but you might be able to sidestep the "manufacturer" requirement by forming a club. You charge them a membership fee. Members show up with receivers and punch the buttons themselves on the CNC machine. Out pops their receiver with the holes drilled. The "club" re-coups their purchase of the machine.

  • JayWye||

    To be cost-effective,it would have to be a pretty large club. An 80% lower goes for about $30--60. If you have 15 members,then you spent $100 apiece to mill them. (I imagine there's shipping costs on the mill,too,and cutters have to be replaced every so often.)
    it's a bit more than drilling a few holes,BTW. you have to mill out the cavity for the trigger group,plus drill a few holes.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I love his perspective on the media @12:45.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Oh shit, he takes a flamethrower to the "Maker Movement" @1820.

  • Je suis Woodchipper||

    he was really shit on by many big names in the makerverse for not printing trinkets. one company revoked his lease on one of their 3D printers because guns.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Yeah, it's a shame that the "Maker Movement" kind of became a "club" with membership, leaders-- and essentially went kind of Burning Man-esque. Sure, they built a really neato animatronic dragon that breathes fire from a propane hose (Go Hillary!) but as usual, it completely misses the point.

    The moment someone actually builds stuff that people want, and that stuff goes outside the regulatory strictures and bypasses powerful agencies which have declared themselves political middlemen, then everyone gets squeamish.

    Every time I learn more about Cody Wilson, the more I like him. This was a great interview.

  • Zunalter||

    I agree. The first time I heard him I thought of him as some pedantic douche. Now, I am really starting to appreciate him.

  • SIV||

    WTF is actual libertarian content doing in a cosmotarian blog? Whatever, it's welcome.

  • Blair, Eric||

    This guy wants to make Trump his gay daddy. You sure he's libertarian?

  • SamHell||

    I got more of an indifferent vibe. He was in awe of the Trump spectacle and the reaction to it, sounded like a GayJay fan if anything.

  • Volren||

    So you can print the gun, what do you do about ammo?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Print a black powder weapon. Problem solved.

  • John C. Randolph||

    I don't see any reason why casings can't be printed.

    -jcr

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    They can't, not yet. Casings have to be metal, and 3D printing of metals is still in its infancy.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    3d print a mold and cast the brass casings.

  • skidmark||

    cast casings wouldn't hold up. they need to be forged, stamped out of a sheet of brass alloy or steel to hold up to the chamber pressures.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Check out Georgius Agricola over here!

  • Printer support number||

    this is true in the printer they use the filament of plastic and metal to make the model.

  • JayWye||

    metal 3-D printers are now available,but they're really expensive. Plus,considering the pressures that a casing is subjected to,I doubt a sintered- powder casing would hold up to the strain.

    BUT,you could use a lathe and brass barstock to machine casings. rather tedious work,though.

  • Florida Hipster||

    Are you familiar with caseless ammunition? One of the big benifits of brass/steel is as a heat sink. Otherwise the weapon heats up rapidly and fails. I'm not sure you can use plastic as a mold to form brass. My guess is no.

  • Tejicano||

    Bigger problem is the primers. Nitro-powders can be home produced but the primers are not so simple. Start stocking up now. I have heard some people are doing that anyway...

  • skidmark||

    Ammo is readily available. No identification required. I hand load all my center fire cartridges anymore. I keep around 10k round of rim fire on hand at any given time. Stock up on primers powder and bullets. You can always cast your own bullets in a pinch.

  • SoCal Soccar Mom||

    Not in California. Anyone taking bets that New York and Illinois will follow California's lead and require ID and a background check for purchases of ammo?

  • SamHell||

  • John C. Randolph||

    The 5th circuit fucked it up. National security doesn't depend on preventing people from making their own weapons, and it was never a sufficient cause to override the second amendment.

    -jcr

  • JayWye||

    some court ruled that one must have a compelling reason to override a Constitutional amendment,it follows that one must have PROOF supporting that reason,not just some claim by a gov't official,or they could nullify anything.
    Also that any restriction must be minimal,and actually have the effect intended,without undue denial of the basic right.

    Recent courts have become deranged,too much PC and socialism being taught in school and colleges.

  • SIV||

    Wilson is another sn as rchist who likes Trump!

  • SIV||

    "anarchist "

  • Blair, Eric||

    Yeah, all these "anarchists" outing themselves as fools who need a human to worship. Fuck off.

  • Blair, Eric||

    Somebody needs to shut this fucking Cody kid the fuck up. The pseudoacademic gibberish he keeps beakin off about makes him sound like that guy who tries to sound "smart" by dropping big words but ends up the fool by using them in the wrong context. The Hegelian complexity of Hillary Clinton's flame out or whatever the fuck.... just stop. Ease up on "printing" the meth and stop smoking it before interviews for Christ's sake. He's even quoted Fouceault on liberty for fuck's sake. Fouceault! On liberty! Keep selling cheap post-modern printable gun parts to paranoid and/or retarded ammosexuals... just do so quietly. Thanks kid.

  • Hank Phillips||

    The real Eric Blair would shoot this fake literary critic Blair through the throat. The real Blair was upset that small outfits wouldn't be able to make atomic bombs and directly reduce the size of government. Cody is literate, lucid, and capable of producing goods people are willing to pay for--unlike his detractors.

  • JayWye||

    if his milling machine can finish an 80% lower,than why can't it make a complete lower out of a block of aluminum? I've read of some hobbyist machinists doing that on their CNC mills.

  • SamHell||

    Looks like it's a price point issue. This is the cheapest way to effeciently make the part of the gun that normally has to be registered without dropping ten times as much on a full blown cnc machine.

  • Tejicano||

    The size of CNC machine required to machine an AR receiver is industrial-scale. Nobody would have any reason to invest that kind of money just for a couple dozen AR lowers. Besides, there are a number of manufacturers that can and are pumping out the unregulated 80% lowers - why re-invent the wheel?

  • Hank Phillips||

    Way to put Austin on the map, Cody! Don't Mess With Texans will be our motto!

  • SamHell||

    What's funny is I just watched David Cross "Make America great again" live in Austin Texas on Netflix and I couldn't help but think about how all those people laughing at his gun control "comedy" were these legendary Texans I keep hearing about.

  • Cy||

    Austin, TX is a ridiculous liberal strong hold. This last election Texas was a lot more purple than I would've liked. I blame the mass exodus of Californians moving to Texas to find work and bringing their Commu-Fascisim with them.

  • texexpatriate||

    Austin has been a leftist joke for sixty years. Houston? Not so much, but it is going that direction. The border counties went for Clinton because there are many illegals there. I lived in Port Aransas, on Mustang Island for many years, and in Paris, Texas for many more. There are few leftists there, nor many anywhere else in that wonderful state.

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    Love Status for Whatsapp are best selected Love Status you can Pick that Love whatsapp Status Quotes Collection And Use it on Your Whatsapp.

  • texexpatriate||

    "[T]he State Department has asserted a very strong public interest in national defense and national security." Whose opinion is that? The writer's opinion? It is a fine assertion but I have not observed anyone in today's Washington, D.C., the District of Corruption, taking an actual interest in national defense, other than funding the military. We may think of D.C.'s funding of the military more likely as a defense of Washington, D.C. The present political administration could not care less about the citizens. We see that in everything it does. The previous one was little better. If Donald Trump does not drain the swamp---the corruption in Washington---eventually it will come down to the citizens to do something about it. We won't be relying on Wilson's Liberator.

  • Roger Wilco||

    Listening to this guy it sounds like he's about to break into Brad Pitt's speech from Fight Club:

    In the world I see - you are stalking elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rockefeller Center. You'll wear leather clothes that will last you the rest of your life. You'll climb the wrist-thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Tower. And when you look down, you'll see tiny figures pounding corn, laying strips of venison on the empty car pool lane of some abandoned superhighway.
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