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3D Printed Guns: An Alarming Reality

March 27, 2013
Cody Wilson

Cody Wilson, via

There is an alarming new reality that until recently has gone unaddressed in the mainstream coverage of the national gun-control debate. The advent of 3D printing has made it possible for anyone with the proper resources to manufacture unregistered and untraceable guns and their components from their own home. This is no longer a hypothetical matter it’s a reality. Cody R. Wilson, a 25-year-old law student has figured out how to replicate guns, including the infamous AR-15 by utilizing new 3D printer technologies. The self-described crypto-anarchist believes that the idea of gun control is a fallacy. Wilson runs a website through his nonprofit organization, Defense Distributed, where he hosts the files necessary to print various components for firearms that anyone can download for free. His goal is for everyone in the world to have the ability to manufacture their own guns and publish files for others to do so as well.

The ATF has been monitoring 3D printed guns for a while however; their current position is one of little concern due to the inferior quality and durability. It’s worth noting that while 3D printed guns are currently inferior to traditionally manufactured ones, they are already capable of firing hundreds of rounds of ammunition without fail. Presently, there are no guns comprised solely of parts printed from a 3D printer. The lower receiver, which Defense Distributed focuses on, is the part the federal government classifies as a gun. Other components such as barrels can be found online and purchased without age restrictions or background checks. Wired magazine included Wilson on their list of the 15 most dangerous people in world last December. The federal government issued Wilson a firearms manufacturer and dealer license earlier this month.

Below is a 25-minute documentary in which Wilson explains his point of view.

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