Cody Wilson, the crypto-anarchist at the center of the 3D-printed gun movement, is stepping aside from his company following his arrest on charges of sexually assaulting a minor.
Texas-based Defense Distributed, which is best known for its legal showdown with the federal government over the right to publish blueprints of 3D-printed guns, will now be led by 29-year-old Paloma Heindorff, the company’s former chief of operations. Heindorff held a press conference Tuesday announcing Wilson’s resignation.
“Cody Wilson tendered his resignation Friday evening to focus on personal legal affairs,” Heindorff said. “Defense Distributed’s board of directors accepted his resignation, and thus his role at the company has been concluded.”
The announcement resolves lingering questions about whether Defense Distributed, established in 2012, and its various pending lawsuits would continue without Wilson, whose name has become synonymous with the issue of 3D-printed guns.
According to charging documents, Wilson, who is 30, had sex with a 16-year-old girl he met on SugarDaddyMeet, a dating platform that matches older men with younger women, and paid her $500. The alleged incident occurred at an Austin hotel in August. The story took a wild turn when law enforcement said that Wilson was not in custody and had last been seen in Taipei, Taiwan. Wilson was briefly an internationally wanted fugitive, until his arrest by Taiwanese authorities Friday.
Wilson is now facing second-degree felony charges, and if convicted, could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. He was released from jail Monday after he posted a $150,000 bond.
A settlement between the company and the Department of Justice earlier this year cleared the way for Wilson to resume publishing blueprints for 3D-printed guns. That settlement was challenged by a multistate lawsuit that’s now pending in a federal court in Seattle. Defense Distributed filed a countersuit against state lawmakers, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Pennsylvania Gov. Thomas Wolf for their efforts to block Wilson from publishing blueprints for 3D-printed guns in their states.
The Second Amendment Foundation, a gun rights advocacy group that has handled Defense Distributed’s legal affairs since 2016, will continue doing so.
“Nothing has changed. We still have the action in Washington State,” Second Amendment Foundation Director of Operations Julianne Versnel told VICE News over the weekend. “I’ve known Cody for a number of years. I was shocked. He has never treated me or any other women with anything more than respect.”
Versnel said that the settlement between Defense Distributed and the State Department was a huge victory.
At the Second Amendment Foundation conference last weekend, Wilson’s name was barely mentioned. Matthew Goldstein, the Second Amendment Foundation lawyer handling his case, gave a presentation about the lawsuit, and referred to Wilson just once, using his last name only.
Cover: Cody Wilson, with Defense Distributed, holds a 3D-printed gun called the Liberator at his shop in Austin, Texas, on Aug. 1, 2018. A federal judge in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday to stop the release of blueprints to make untraceable and undetectable 3D-printed plastic guns. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)