Cody Wilson found a way around government’s attempt to control guns: make your own. He started Defense Distributed to spread information about how to make guns in the comfort of your own home.
This is not a new idea. Hoplophiles have been making their own guns for decades using pre-manufactured 80% receivers. With these, all you have to do is drill some holes, purchase the other parts of the gun, and you are suddenly and surreptitiously the proud owner of a functional firearm. Wilson’s innovation was to make it easy for anyone to do using 3D printing technology.
Now, 3D printed guns are not all that great. The first models only barely worked. However, the potential was there and it was obvious to everyone that as 3D printing technology improved, so would the guns being produced.
For practical guns in the present, Cody devised an automatic machining tool called the Ghost Gunner that could use traditional milling methods to finish and 80% receiver. Combined with open-source programs to control the machine, you could not only create a working gun, but you could create one that works just as well as something you would buy from your local gun store.
Predictably, the government tried to shut him down. So he sued them. After many years, he finally won. Today was set to be the grand re-opening of his website.
Unfortunately, a federal judge immediately ordered him to shut down his site again. The legal battle continues, but the technology and information that they are trying to suppress continues to spread and evolve. You can get the files here, here, here, or here.
Listen to this recent interview for the details of how this battle is unfolding and Wilson’s personal philosophy.
Edit: one reader brings to our attention the Washbear Revolver, a 3D printable .22 revolver. You can find the files here. A list of other 3D printed weapons can be found at Wikipedia.
Edit: another reader brings to our attention this excellent website: codeisfreespeech.com