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Gun Control Is Still Dead: Paloma Heindorff on Homemade Firearms and Defense Distributed After Cody Wilson

After Cody Wilson was arrested on a sex crime charge, Heindorff took the helm at Defense Distributed. Now she's leading a massive free speech battle over the right to download a gun.

The Austin-based nonprofit Defense Distributed, which defends and facilitiates the homemade firearm movement, has had a wild seven months: It reached a settlement in a longstanding federal lawsuit, it reposted all of its downloadable gun files on the internet, it was sued by 25 states, and then it had to pull all those files back down. It also just launched a new product: the Polymer80 kit for finishing a Glock-style handgun on the company's Ghost Gunner milling machine in about half an hour.

But the most consequential event for the company was the arrest and indictment of its charismatic founder, Cody Wilson. In September 2018, Austin police announced a warrant for Wilson's arrest for allegedly paying for sex with a 16-year-old female he met through an app called SugarDaddyMeet—in a state where the age of consent is 17. Police discovered Wilson was in Taiwan, and he was detained and sent home. Wilson is currently out on bail awaiting trial.

Stepping up as Defense Distributed's new director was Paloma Heindorff, who had little experience on the public stage and hadn't even fired a gun prior to 2015.

So where does Wilson's arrest and resignation leave Defense Distributed, a company oriented around Wilson's brash public persona and vision of all-out war between the state and the individual? And what's the future of its legal battle to protect the First Amendment right to distribute gun files? Reason's Zach Weissmueller went behind the scenes at America's most controversial gun company.

Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Camera by Jim Epstein, Mark McDaniel, and Weissmueller. Additional graphics by Epstein.

"Dancing on the Edge," by Kai Engel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NC 3.0 license. Engel's music is available for purchase and download at his Bandcamp page.

"Universe in Hands," by Kai Engel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NC 3.0 license. Engel's music is available for purchase and download at his Bandcamp page.

"Aveu," by Kai Engel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NC 3.0 license. Engel's music is available for purchase and download at his Bandcamp page.

"Cendres," by Kai Engel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NC 3.0 license. Engel's music is available for purchase and download at his Bandcamp page.

"Fryeri," by Kai Engel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NC 3.0 license. Engel's music is available for purchase and download at his Bandcamp page.

"Back to Lighted Streets," by Kai Engel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NC 3.0 license. Engel's music is available for purchase and download at his Bandcamp page.

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  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

  • ||

    But the most consequential event for the company was the arrest and indictment of its charismatic founder, Cody Wilson.

    Uh... 'charismatic'... probably not the best choice.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    He meant 'ephebophilic.'

  • DajjaI||

    I will defend your right to free speech, even if you use your words against me. I will not, however, extend you the same courtesy on guns.

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    Molon fucking labe

  • Hank Phillips||

    Kristallnacht gun law nostalgia?

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    I am still mad at Cody for being a total dumbass.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    He should have gone to Thailand. I think the age of consent there is 12, or is it 13?

  • LiborCon||

    American citizens who travel abroad to have sex with children are subject to prosecution by the Federal government.

  • vek||

    Yeah, but you have to get caught first... And nobody is going to rat on your if you're some anonymous random dude in a country like that.

    Also IIRC Spain and Portugal are 12/13 as well.

    The thing that is fucked here is that he was only TRYING to sleep with a hooker who was 18! The chick LIED about her age IIRC. That would have still been "bad" for him, but her being 16 or whatever made it worse.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Do we know he wasn't shown a "special" US Passport identifying the working girl as 19? A careful set-up could make such a document appear and disappear.

  • ||

    I am still mad at Cody for being a total dumbass.

    I agree that dumbass is the most logical conclusion. However, I wonder if there wasn't a bit of 'Ellis Wyatt' to the whole thing (or maybe 'Hank Rearden's affair' if we want to dice up analogies). Like he may've felt that things continuing the way they did, the narrative was going to continue to be 'Cody Wilson and his company Defense Distributed vs. DOJ/States AGs/whatever' rather than 'Defense Distributed and its backers vs. the DOJ/States AGs/whatever'.

  • ||

    Funny, attractive British woman defending gun rights as beautiful practically on principle? I hope to God she's not paying for the services she could get for free.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Yes, she seems quite the paradox.

  • BigT||

    Can you still download plans to 3D print a woman?

    Asking for a friend.

  • Longtobefree||

    Tell your friend that you can download those plans, but it is for a Nancy Pelosi model - - - - - -

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    Eh. It's an update on the Feinstein.

  • Get To Da Chippah||

  • Matthew Chalice||

    OT: In case you're wondering what a useful libertarian idiot looks like, Dave Weigel is defending AOC's Green New Deal.

    Not sure who's worse: him, Sanchez, or Balko.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    Has anyone ever accused Weigel of being a libertarian? I don't think even Mikey has done that.

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    Whatever he is he's a chubby hipster now.

  • Bubba Jones||

    I finished my P80 with hand tools. As did Reason.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    The New Jersey Attorney General used to be the chief prosecutor for Bergen County, which means he has roots in my area. Oh, that reminds me, do you guys think my latest campaign video is a bit too much considering the context?

    Anyway ... guns freak people out for some strange reason when they don't worry at all about bug repellent.

  • Qsl||

    I think when you attach file sharing with terminology like crypto-anarchism, you've put yourself in the box where people who may share your concerns but not your ideology are unwilling to bridge that gap. Wilson was a divisive as a spokesperson as well, and with the current charges against him, people will be even more reticent to show their support.

    Also there was an earnestness to DD that didn't seem willing to play up the absurdity of the situation. Where were the CAD files of bunnies holding miniature ARs (rendered exactly in 1/64 scale)? Where are the counter laws (if even at the city level) forbidding the mention of New Jersey on the web unless followed by "smells like a garbage pit"?

    Let's hope Ms. Heindorff can make DD less ideological and more functional (even as I admire Wilson a lot).

  • Hank Phillips||

    I am soooo proud of Austin! Interestingly, the day before BATF murdered about 50 children in Waco, its media injected news coverage with child-molesting rumors. My math tutor immediately said "they're going to kill them all."
    --Huh? Howzat?
    --Kids can't be relied on to back the government story--not while they're alive.
    Sure enough, the next day everyone was dead.
    This may be why so any countries peg the age of consent at 14.

  • NuriSol||

    The left has done a wonderful job of obscuring the reason for arming the American people to begin with. It's got nothing to do with self defense or hunting. It's all about keeping a government from running rough shot over its people and committing genocide or any other atrocities that have been committed REPEATEDLY by governments against their own throughout history.
    The American people would do well to remember the words of our founders. When a government ceases to serve the people and instead begins attempting to remove the very protections it was formed to protect, the people not only have the RIGHT, but the DUTY to remove such tyranny - by whatever means is necessary including armed violence. This country was FORMED by armed violence, and that will be the only way we keep it. That's the nature of government. They ALWAYS seek more power, more control. The #2 Amendment was put in place as an "equalizer" so that NEVER again would a people be helpless against a tyrannical regime.

  • Mike Anderson||

    Oh............God ! this is fools .Gun controls On newton's laws.Get in touch with HP Customer Service Number for HP Help

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