Cody Wilson, a University of Texas law student, is on a quest to use the new technology of 3D printing to design assault weapons that can be constructed in the comfort of your own home, evading normal regulations.
Wilson has made major inroads since that article, as revealed in a short new documentary featuring his design project, his interaction with federal authorities, and a demonstration of his homemade, printed AR-15…
Wilson and his company, Defense Distributed, focus on designing printable “lower receivers” for AR-15s. For those without a subscription to “Guns and Ammo” and/or a home you call a “compound,” the lower receiver is the part of an AR-15 that holds the trigger and moves ammunition from the magazine to the “part that kills people.”
Just building one part of the gun wouldn’t seem so dangerous, until you realize that the lower receiver is the ONLY part of an AR-15 that’s really regulated. As Wilson points out, all the other pieces of a Sandy Hook-ready AR-15 can be ordered online “if you’re 12 years old… which I think is a thing of beauty.” Maybe the NRA is going about this all wrong — don’t arm the teachers, arm the kids playing hall monitor! Note that a 12-year-old can’t check out porn, just purchase assault rifles. To channel Yakov Smirnoff, “What a country!”
I guess I shouldn’t say that Wilson makes only one part. He’s just started working on building high-capacity magazines (including one capable of firing 600 rounds with limited interruption) because the government is considering banning those. This isn’t petulant behavior at all.
Defense Distributed created its own website to provide the design to the masses after the website where he’d first posted his designs for download pulled the plug on him. “It is an act of censorship in my mind,” says Wilson, who must have failed his Constitutional Law class. Has anyone ever noticed that these grandstanding “free thinkers” think private entities have the freedom to chain workers to the assembly line while beating them with sharpened bamboo sticks, but lack the freedom to say “no” to that same wingnut demanding privately-owned services for free?
But like many radicals, his philosophy veers from “free pot” into “I have a Zine in a local bookstore” territory. He declares that the problem of gun control and all the repressive regulation in America is “because we’re so free.” That doesn’t make sense, man.
Like a meta-version of the gun control debate, Wilson’s actions may someday invite an onerous regulatory regime to come down on 3D printing — a technology that doesn’t have a constitutional amendment in its honor. Wilson and his ilk could handicap a vibrant, potentially useful technology by trying to expand a useless, destructive one.
Wilson also endorses the “end of history” worldview of Francis Fukuyama and suggests that his whole point may be simply proving that there is no solution to the gun problem, so why even try? All the while, Wilson slams both major political parties in the United States as disingenuous distractions from the fact that the world is run by a neoliberal class of “Goldman Sachs bankers.” Fair enough… even a broken clock is right twice a day.
Wilson is a bundle of contradictions. If he believes that the problem is that politics exists to distract from oligarchic neoliberalism, what’s the point of building a shareware machine gun (and yes, despite approval from the ATF to sell the design, Wilson opts to give it away)? Wilson wants to spit in the eye of those that would protect — if only marginally — people’s lives, and doesn’t recognize that his entire mission is the exact same brand of distraction he whines about. He’s not advocating, at least not here, the violent overthrow of the nebulous shadow government he identifies. He lives by the rules, seeking all appropriate firearms licenses. All he wants to do is occupy a fringe corner of the Internet ranting about guns while the neoliberal order he talks about continues unchallenged. Even if you buy this guy’s manifesto, he doesn’t make sense.
I, for one, believe wholeheartedly in one’s right as an American citizen to legally bear arms. It’s people like Wilson who give the other law-abiding and well-natured gun owners a bad name and cause them to be improperly labeled as “gun nuts” also. Sorry, but lawfully owning a firearm to protect one’s life and family does not qualify someone as a nut. Wanting to create magazines that shoot 600 uninterrupted rounds… well, that’s more like it.