Self-described “crypto-anarchist” Cody Wilson can't publish blueprints online for 3D-printed guns for the foreseeable future.
Wilson, 29, and his company, Defense Distributed, resumed uploading blueprints for 3D-printed guns in late July after quietly settling a years-long lawsuit with the U.S. State Department. But a flurry of legal challenges quickly stymied his efforts.
Now, a federal judge in Seattle upheld a preliminary injunction against Wilson and his company. Monday’s ruling means Wilson won’t be able to upload 3D gun blueprints to the web until a lawsuit brought by attorneys general from 19 states plus the District of Columbia is decided.
“States will likely suffer irreparable injury if the technical data for designing and producing undetectable weapons using a commercially available 3D printer are published on the internet,” Judge Robert Lasnik wrote in his opinion. “A gun made from plastic is virtually undetectable in metal detectors and other security equipment intended to promote public safety at airports, sporting events, courthouses, music venues, and government buildings.”
Because 3D printed guns are mostly made of plastic. (Wilson’s blueprints call for one small metal firing pin). And law enforcement officials feared that they could easily bypass most metal detectors. 3D printed guns also don’t need to contain serial numbers — nor do owners need to undergo background checks — which makes them largely untraceable if they’re used to commit a crime.
With alarm bells ringing among public safety advocates, gun control groups and state lawmakers filed several lawsuits seeking to reverse Wilson’s settlement with the State Department. On July 31, Wilson's website DefCad was forced to go dark following the first restraining order issued by Judge Lasnik. By that point, however, his blueprints had already been downloaded thousands of times, including for a printable AR-15.
Now, instead of offering blueprints, Wilson is soliciting donations to “uncensor DefCad.” So far, he claims to have raised $140,000, 35 percent of his stated goal of $400,000. Wilson did not respond to VICE News’ request for comment.
As part of his campaign for donations, Wilson published a three-minute video that intersperses media segments with reenactments of civil war soldiers with videos of present-day armed militias.
“I’m going to make them kill your internet,” Wilson says in the video, as former president Barack Obama’s head rotates against a black screen, followed by an image of a printed assault rifle. “These statesmen. They can only see ghosts. You don’t get to escape me. You don’t get to vote me out.”
Wilson said that he mined Lasnik's opinion for loopholes and maintains that he’s not worried. He's vowed to appeal the final decision in the suit. “I’m really optimistic. This order is clownish,” Wilson told VICE News. “And I’m sure the Ninth Circuit will take the opportunity to correct this.”
Cover image: Cody Wilson, with Defense Distributed, holds a 3D-printed gun called the Liberator at his shop, Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2018, in Austin, Texas. A federal judge in Seattle has issued a temporary restraining order to stop the release of blueprints to make untraceable and undetectable 3D-printed plastic guns. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)