The World’s First Completely 3D-Printed Gun

liberatorSince 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.

DD_gunsNot 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.

DD_liberatorIn 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.

Defense_DistributedHowever, 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!



Data Miners – Chapter 12


Nina winces and imagines just how far down the hall people could hear that one. Griswold has been on the phone with Cyber Division for a few minutes now, and from the sounds of it, things are not going too well. She waits until the thumping and muffled shouts are finished before breathing easy again. She also steps closer to the door and puts her hand on the knob, anticipating what’s to come when the phone is slammed down on its cradle.

“Righetti! Get the fuck in here!”

Griswold is surprised when the door pops open less than half a second later. He makes a noise in the back of his throat then motions at her to sit.

“I just got off the phone with Walters over at CCRS, he’s given me a heads-up on what they’ve learned, and it’s not much. They say they’ve found the entry point the hacker used. They used some kind of ‘breaker’ to get past our firewalls and some kind of program to cover their ISP address, whatever the hell that means! No doubt about it, we have got a serious clusterfuck on our hands here!”

Nina nods without smiling. The familiarity of the words on his tongue is patently evident. He doesn’t even bother to hide it. And the direness of the news would be a lot more convincing for her if he weren’t being so loud and profane about it. By now, she’s come to understand that the good ole CF is very popular in their line of work. Everyone in the intelligence services appears to use it; it’s kind of like their version of SNAFU or FUBAR. Funny how people in the military and intelligence community need standardized terms for fucked-up situations, she thinks. One would think they dealt with them all the time.

“I’m sending you over to DC, care of Cyber Division. You’re to pack up and head over immediately, call me direct to let me know if you need anything. Otherwise, you’ll be reporting to DD Domovitch, head of Cyber. Understood?”

“You want me there, sir?” Nina asks.

“Yes,” Griswold replies with a fair degree of annoyance, “I want your eyes and ears there, and I also want you to make sure we remind those dickheads exactly whose shit pile this is! Now who did you say brought this to your attention?”

“Johnson, sir. He was the one who got the call from the Post and gave me the file numbers on all those pics.”

“Fine, take him with you! Just get yer ass over to the capitol and make sure those fuck ups don’t screw this up any more than they already have!”

“Are we to drive ourselves, sir?” she asks semi-sarcastically.

Griswold sighs. “We still have a budget, sweetheart. I got a helicopter waiting for you outside. Now move unless you want to lose your job!”

Nina nods and turns to leave in great haste. There’s only so much of Griswold’s profanity she can stand, then she feels dirty somehow. Someday, if she were the litigious type, she might consider folding all of his curse words and offhand sexual references into one big harassment lawsuit. But right now, she’s got more important things to think about. For one, this whole hack job. It’s all a little confusing to her, naturally. She’s pretty sure Cyber crimes is not her business and that her involvement in this case ended when she handed her boss the photographic evidence of the hack. But Griswold’s paranoia is understandable. Their business has been violated and he wants someone from their department to oversee the attempts at redress.

One thing is for sure: they need to find out who did this and how. Then, they need to bring them in for some serious “questioning”. And Nina knows what will happen next, as per the Bureau’s policy. If they don’t kill them first, they’ll probably offer them a job. That’s how the whole industry works, really. If you can’t beat em, hire em!

Getting back to her desk, he picks up her phone and dials Mark’s extension. He is there, surprisingly. No voice mail and no call backs within fifteen seconds, which is his usual ritual. His voice is plain and professional too.


She is straight to the point. “Mark? Nina. You remember where my desk is?”

There is a moment of hesitation. “Yes, of course. What’s the problem?”

“No problem,” she says unequivocally. “We’ve just been reassigned to DC. Get your kit together and meet me downstairs. We’re to leave immediately, by chopper.”

She hangs up and begins dialling her next number before he can answer enthusiastically. A chopper ride is a rare privilege and she knows Mark is far more excited than she is to be getting out from behind their desks for a change. Her next call is to old unfaithful, just to let him know that she’ll be gone. That and his car privileges have been extended, among other things. She gets the answering machine at their shared apartment and leaves a message.

“Garret, this is Nina. I’ll be away for a few days. Car is yours and you’ve got the run of the place. Don’t do anything stupid while I’m gone and if anything’s broken when I get back – anything of mine, that is, you can start looking for a new best friend. Bye!”

Her tone is playful but Garret knows her well enough to know she’s serious. She omitted Garret’s title of “dumb shit”, and “with benefits” from her description of their relationship, for obvious reasons. She’s at work, after all. Some modicum of decorum must be maintained, especially since their boss has the market on smut talk cornered. Who wants to hear about a visiting friend she obviously doesn’t trust fully, who also happens to share her bed? Righetti is a saintly name, and she’s determined to keep it that way.

Reaching into her desk drawer, she grabs her FBI ID and her sidearm, putting both in her carrying bag and heading for the elevator to meet Mark below.

Data Miners – Chapter 2


He’s arrived early.  H-hour, eighteen-hundred hours, at the Seattle Coffee House, one night since receiving the email.  His dark shades block out the harsh reality that is stinging his senses.  Last night’s activities have left him a little sore and sluggish.  But he’ll suffice for tonight’s engagement.  He steps a few feet away from the barista at her serving station and does a three-hundred sixty degree survey of the room.  He spots a woman in a dark suede jacket and black glasses sitting in the corner nursing a 20 ounce cup.  A mountain of curls hangs from her head, draping over her shoulders and down to the handbag that swings from the arm rest of her mahogany chair.  He smiles and steps up to the bar.

“Twelve-ounce macchiato, extra strong,” he says to the sardonic white kid with the braces and a constellation of zits.  He demands an exorbitant amount of money in exchange.

“Here you go,” he says, forking over a five and rummaging around for some loose change.  Such is the price of fair-trade and inflation.  He receives his cup from the barista and walks over to the self-serve doctoring station where he adds lots of milk and several spoonfuls of the coarse brown sugar.  He pauses and wonders if it is fair-trade too.  Some sugar farmer in the Caribbean could be living a better life thanks to his preference for sweetness.

Speaking of which, Angie is waiting.  He walks over to her table, trying not to seem overly casual.  As he walks, he wonders what it might be like to bury his nose in that mountain she’s sporting on her head.  He’s come close once or twice, the scent still comes back to him in rare flashes.  Lilacs and cherry blossoms, or at least what he imagines they would smell like.  Her lips are encrusted with rubies.  What do rubies taste like, he wonders?  Cherry?

“Angie,” he says as he takes a seat opposite her.

“Hello Yammie,” she says in return.  “You’re early, as usual.”

“Figured I’d get a good seat this way, opposite you.”

She sips from her cup.  He notices the Chai tea tag hanging from it.  “Hope you enjoy the view,” she says.  “I’m in a bitchy mood.”

“With you, dear Angie, any mood is heightened by the mere fact of your presence.”

She scowls at him from behind those dark glasses.  “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times, there’s no way, Yammie.  Now just sit still and wait for the others.”

He smiles like a boy who’s been chastised by his pretty teacher.  She’s taken the challenge to heart, it seems.  He still doesn’t know what it is exactly, but it’s clear it’s got her peeved.

“While we’re waiting, how about we talk about turn ons and turns offs?”

“Been reading too many porn mags there, Yammie?”

He chuckles, suddenly aware that the dope hasn’t totally worn off.  She’s conjecturing that too much exposure to pornography has convinced him that this is how men and women communicate in real life.  She’s not entirely wrong, but who the hell reads magazines anymore?  He doesn’t dignify the accusation with that response for fear of revealing too much about himself.  At this point in their relationship, he figures what she doesn’t know won’t hurt his chances.

“What about favourite sites to cruise?  Can I ask you that?”

She takes another sip of her Chai and thinks it over.  She shrugs.  “Misinformation and Monster Dicks,” she says casually.  Prad laughs so hard it turns some heads in their directions.  He looks back at them and waves, the mandatory gesture to show he’s not crazy.  When he looks back at her, he notices she’s pulled her glasses down to reveal her shiny hazel-greens.  Her eyes could slice through metal, they are that focused on him.  And she doesn’t look too happy.

“Are you fucking high?”

“What? Noooooooo…”

She is unconvinced and keeps staring at him with that penetrating gaze.  Slowly, the glasses go back into place.  He’s a little self-conscious now, even though he’s told her the truth, sort of.  It’s been less than six hours since he embraced the Purple Haze.  It was intended to get him through the afternoon but he hoped to be sober enough by this point.  Unfortunately, he skipped his after work nap that was supposed to sleep off the last of it.  Idle conversation proves to be a losing game after that. Prad, in spite of his playful antics, is not immune to being shot down in the most blatant of ways.

Luckily, it doesn’t take long for the others to arrive.  One by one, two by two, they file through the front door wearing attire appropriate for the evening’s “briefing”.  There’s Lynette Bradford, DeeMark “Fiddlergrrl”, Tommy “OnKrack” Chu, Claude “Voodooman82” Mecklenburg, Sam “Sandngrr” Sa’id, Tania “Cutegrrl” Zeta, Zuhair “Mohandas5323” Subramanian, and Arthur “Kingdome” Achebe.  These are the sum total of the Society, the best and brightest in their respective field, or at least they say so.  All are dressed in dark leather or suede jackets, wearing the same dark glasses as Angie herself.  They don’t look too conspiratorial walking directly to her table, only a few stopping to order caffeinated beverages.

“Okay, thanks all for coming, so I’ll get right to it.  We’ve been challenged.”  This is how she opens when they all sit down.  Everyone leans in to listen attentively.  Prad gets a few nods from people acknowledging him as they crowd around and press forward so they can hear better.  Suddenly, Prad is feeling pinched and suffocated.  And he resents the loss of privacy with his dear Angie, who seems to have all but forgotten about him as she prattles about their mission.

“The DeePs are known for being assholes to us measly miners, but this is one I couldn’t well pass up.  And it’s a big one, a risky one, so if anyone has any doubts or feels like they don’t want to be a part of it, now’s the time to say so.  Walk away now, and I promise, no one will think less of you.”

Achebe raises his hand and smiles at his own gesture.  He looks like an oversized schoolboy vying for the teacher’s attention.  Angie calls on him accordingly.

“Yes, Artie?”

“I for one would like to know what the challenge is before I make up my mind.  I think everyone would.”

Nods and murmurs of agreement around the table.  Angie nods approvingly and begins to lay it out for them.

“As you all may know, there has been some serious scuttlebutt recently about a certain Congressman who has a long and checkered history, and a strange ability to get re-elected in spite of all the shit that comes out of his mouth.  His hobbies include waving the Confederate flag, denouncing the enshrinement of civil rights in state charters, and hanging nooses on the tree outside his office.”

Some of the group laugh.  They, unlike Prad, it seems, know exactly who she means.

“More recently, his activities included getting anti-gay marriage legislation passed, domestic spying, calling his opponents queers and terrorist sympathizers, and demanding that our current president produce a birth certificate because he doesn’t seem to trust his allegiance.  Ah, fuck it, you know who I mean!”

By now Prad and the remaining clueless apoliticos are catching on.  Sa’id spells it out for his own satisfaction.

“Congressman Dangle, that cocksucker.”

“Right,” says Angie.  “The DeePs seem to agree with me that this man needs a good ass kicking since his constituents are in the habit of re-electing him.  They thought it might be nice if someone were to provide proof of his past affiliations, something that no one could deny.  I told them that if they thought so, they should hack into his campaign d-base and dig up some dirt, like they always do.  But they said they already tried that a few years ago.  They looked into who’s been financing his campaigns and who he’s shaking hands with.”

“Nothing incriminating?”

“Nothing illegal,” Angie replies after taking a sip of tea.  “Any shit he’s done or asses he’s kissed has been out in the open.  Worst thing anyone could find on him is that he takes contributions from the Christian Right and shakes hands with them in public.”

“Stuff any idiot would know,” Prad says.

“They got nothing?” Sa’id says, incredulous.  “Those DeePs found nothing on someone like Dangle and they admitted it?”

“And it pissed them off to no end.  I taunted them about it, but they claim that Dangle must be clean, or just good as faking it.  In either case, they figured that if some dirt didn’t exist, that someone ought to create it and put it where it could be found.”

Prad’s eyes widen and a few people begin to push themselves back from the table.  Sa’id and a few shush them and look around to make sure no one is listening in.  Their volume has exceeded tolerable levels.  Enough noise and even the patrons of a Seattle chain will start to get nervous about a left-wing conspiracy.

“Like I said,” Angie goes on.   “Anybody’s not into this, now’s the time.  The challenge is straightforward, but challenging.  We hack into the FBI d-base, find ourselves some good old fashioned domestic terrorists, and add a little information to their file that suggests they knew and were on good terms with Dangle.  Nothing major, just something that’s going to throw up some red flags at FBI headquarters on Wednesday morning.”

“Sounds dangerous, and borderline sleazy,” Achebe says.  “But if you’re gonna’ do it, count me in.”

“Me too,” Sa’id says.  As a man of Arab descent, he’s waited years to get back at the assholes who made life hell for him and his family.  The years in which he couldn’t get a job and had to move back in with his parents he blames wholeheartedly on these people.  Between the years of oh-one and oh-nine, there was nothing scarier than a Moslem with a high-tech degree.

“I’m in,” Tommy Chu says and raps his knuckles against the table.

“Not me,” says Tania.  “Sorry Ange.”

“It’s okay,” she says with a raised hand.  She knows Tania has just started a job with a company that does government contracts and can’t risk anything that might land her in hot water with her superiors.  The Jerk follows shortly thereafter.

“I’m still on the INS watch list.  I can’t.”

“Yeah, I’m not so sure I’m out of the woods on that either,” says Zuhair, who is trying to bring his parents over from Sri Lanka.  Angie gives them both a gentle smile of understanding.

That leaves Prad, who feels at least four sets of eyes on him.  Three in, four out, and Angie leading the pack.  At this point, he could go either way.  The thought of committing a federal crime is scarier than shit to him.  On the other hand, he would be defending Angie’s honour.  That proves irresistibly appealing to him, and he has no intention of getting caught either.  No ass-bound federal tracker could catch him, not when he’s in the ether.

“You know, Sa’id,” he says, trying to stall.  “Claude is right about the INS and all.  You got the NSA to worry about yourself, you sure you want to do this?”

“Fuck it, man.  And fuck them too.  They’ve been breathing down my neck for years, they should be sucking on my ball sack now.”

Angie is still looking at him from behind those dark glasses.  He feels her penetrating gaze slicing deep trenches through his forehead and eye sockets.  “What the hell, I’m in.”

“Alright,” Angie says.  He thinks he sees a smile forming.  He wishes he could see her eyes.  Oh God, let her be excited, he prays.  If she’s excited, it means there’s still hope of getting her spread eagle on his keyboard.

An hour later, they’ve drunk their coffee and tea and eaten their biscotti and muffins.  When they’ve discussed all other matters, Angie says good-bye to Tania, Claude, Tommy, Zuhair and Lynette, leaving her with just her co-conspirators.  This is best, Prad reasons.  The less they know at this point, the better.  The thought makes him gleeful.  Being part of something conspiratorial just feels so… exciting!

“So where is this going down?” Sa’id asks.

“Well, for security reasons, none of us should be using our home computers.  Plus, I want us to be in communication range of each other.”

“Internet café?” Chu recommends.

“Better, the Puget campus computer lounge.”

“Public internet provider, we’d need an anonymizer,” Sa’id says.

“Not a problem, we all know where to find those.”

“Don’t you need a student ID to get in there?” Prad reminds her.

“I got a friend at Puget,” Angie declares.  “They’ll get us into the student lounge, Tuesday night at midnight.  Nobody but on-line gamers and a few keeners are up that late, so we’ll have the run of the place.  Likely, no one will take notice and they probably won’t care if they do.  Colleges are full of anarchists.”

A shared laugh, leaving only one question.

“What about security?”

“You mean how do we get past the congressman’s ICE?”  Angie looks at Prad.  Those are supposed to be Sa’id’s specialty, but considering his background, he can’t be caught making those.  And Prad knows he’s just as good, he’s beginning to suspect Angie knows it too from the way she’s looking at him.

“I’ll work something up,” he declares.  “Dangle’s trackers won’t know from which direction I came from.  I’ll be like a sniper in the jungle. Pop! Pop!”

He holds an imaginary rifle and squeezes off a few rounds at his imaginary enemy.

“Okay, shut up.  So it’s agreed, we’ll do it from Puget next Tuesday.”