Since it’s inception, 3D printing has offered people a wide range of manufacturing possibilities, ranging from the creation of intricate prototypes to drugs and even human tissue. However, one of the most controversial manufactured items to come from the technology has been what the Texas-based organization known as Defense Distributed refers to as “Wiki-weapons”, guns that can be made by anyone using downloaded blueprints and a public printer.
Not long ago, the group announced that they had successfully created a working AR-15 assault weapon using some printed parts. This drew sharp criticism from advocates of gun control, in part because the same weapon was used in the Newton, Connecticut school shooting. However, Cody Wilson, founder of DD, announced that they would continue to pursue their goal of making printed guns, stating that their commitment to the 2nd Amendment took precedence over a single tragedy.
And now, it appear that they have gone a step further, unveiling the world’s first fully 3D-printed weapon. Save for a nail which is used as the firing pin, the gun is made up entirely of printed parts, can fire normal ammunition and is capable of making it past a metal detector. It’s called the Liberator, the product of eight months of labor by Cody and his group, and named in honor of the one-shot pistols that were airdropped by the Allies on France during the Second World War.
In an interview with Forbes, Cody and his group demonstrated their first test firing, which was a success. He also claimed that the Liberator will be capable of connecting to different barrels, allowing it to fire various calibers of ammunition. He also plans to publish the files necessary to print it at home as well as details on its operation so that anyone can produce their own.
This is all in keeping with Cody’s vision – being a hardcore libertarian and anarchist – to create a class of weapon that anyone can produce, circumventing the law and the regulatory process. At the same time though, Distributed Defense did decide to include a small chunk of metal in the final design to ensure that the gun couldn’t pass through a metal detector undetected. This is in compliance with the Undetectable Firearms Act, and may have been motivated by the group’s sagging public image.
However, this has not stopped the group from obtaining a federal firearms license this past March, making it a legal gun manufacturer. And once the file is online, anybody will be able to download it. What’s more, all attempts to limit DD’s activities, which include printing firms purging gun parts from their databases, has made Cody even more eager to pursue his aims. In a statement made to Forbes magazine, he said:
You can print a lethal device. It’s kind of scary, but that’s what we’re aiming to show… Everyone talks about the 3D printing revolution. Well, what did you think would happen when everyone has the means of production? I’m interested to see what the potential for this tool really is. Can it print a gun?
Well, Mr. Wilson, we’re about to find out! And if I were a betting man, I would say it the “potential” will include more unregistered firearms, a terrorist act or shooting that will involve a partially printed weapon, and Wilson’s continued intransigence to reform his ways, citing the 2nd Amendment as always. Libertarians are nothing if not predictable!