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New Legal Hurdles for 3D Gun Blueprint Designer

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Not too long ago, Defense Distributed and the United States Government reached a settlement agreement after almost three years of litigation. While the agreement seemed like a victory, Defense Distributed and its founder, Cody Wilson, quickly found themselves in the crosshairs of the Giffords, Everytown for Gun Safety and Brady Campaign.

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The groups filed an emergency motion for leave to intervene in a case to which they were not a party. They argued that national security was threatened by allowing Defense Distributed to publish the files for firearms to be printed on a 3D printer. Last Friday, a judge threw the motion out, in what would appear to be the final hurdle to overcome.

We sat down with Cody Wilson at Triggrcon to talk about the lawsuit and the tumultuous future ahead. What was striking about Cody was that even after enduring a five year long struggle with the government to publish his files, he maintained a wicked sense of humor about it all.

Recoil: Today I wanted to talk to you about a few things as far as where you came from, what is going on now…and then where you think things in the future are going to go.

Cody Wilson: 2013, State Department sends me a letter after we printed the guns, first printed gun, the Liberator, says stop, you didn't ask us for permission to post this to the internet…We had to spend about five years contesting that idea and then Friday of last week, we didn't have to contest that idea any more…

All the anti-gun groups are saying that this is the first time that you're able to 3D print a gun at home, they're missing the entirety of the issue.

Recoil: They're misrepresenting the issue…

Cody Wilson: On purpose. In fact, I saw a former ATF special agent on the Gabby Giffords page being like “as of Friday any American can make a gun at home.” He's an ATF agent…Basically, it now seems what the anti-gun groups are doing are going to the state police, [attorney generals], and governors and saying we're going to try to publish this stuff, get a restraining order if you can. Of course, it's too late, I went ahead and published the stuff when we won the case.

What just happened in Pennsylvania is…they tried to get a TRO, an emergency hearing, hey stop Cody from publishing before August 1. I called the attorney back and its like, look man scroll down, you can download it right now.

I just, a few minutes ago, announced a lawsuit against Los Angeles and New Jersey…But this is the big, big thing, now where apparently every blue state is going to actively sue me in every single venue and try to tear me apart.

Recoil: What has [the lawsuit] done to your psyche?

Cody Wilson: You're looking at it man…It's been interesting. I've made good contacts. You can argue too that that lawsuit took me from a place of like, I didn't have a business back then. But I had to make a business, this Ghost Gunner business I have, to support that lawsuit…I tried to rise to the level of my problem, I suppose for now it's worked.


Recoil: So tell me a little bit about the library…

Cody WilsonThe name of our company is Defense Distributed. There's lots of ways to fulfill the meaning of those words. When you sit around for four years stewing that they won't let me publish my stuff, what else can I publish? This is where your minds goes, and of course there's all these huge repos of technical data that are technically public…All of this has public distribution statements, there's the Armed Publishing Directorate, the Federal Depository Library Materials, the Army Technical Manual Series, all kinds…its crazy, huge volumes of this data and a lot of it, especially before the 70's, is all contained on microfilm, has never been digitized, has never been indexed, has never been made searchable.

And this is one of the ultimate ironies…at the very end of the last thing we did on Friday, this five year ordeal with State Department, it's Defense Distributed and DOJ on one side fighting Brady on the other side arguing State Department has an inviable power here your honor and you can't review this.

I never thought I'd come along and say that the United States has a national security interest here, and it, and it alone, can decide it…(breaks into laughter).

And that's, to answer your bigger question of what does that do to you, look at it, I've had to be every single side of the issue…crazy to be on every side of the issue. Stretches your mind and emotions and…empties you out.

Recoil: What do you see for the future of Defense Distributed?

Cody Wilson: Every time I talk about the future, I get set back for two or three years. You can see the ambition of our organization in things like the Library…I want to give capabilities to the public. I believe that all this capability should be thrown into the Commons.

Recoil: What's it like working with Alan Gottlieb and the Second Amendment Foundation?

Cody WilsonWell, it's funny, my introduction to Gottlieb was that I insulted him. Months later I learned that most of the Second Amendment law we care about was designed by SAF and engineered by SAF. When I got in trouble with the State Department, Alan…just decided to show me that he was the real deal.

Recoil: Do you have any last thoughts?

Cody Wilson: I don't know. I'm about to get my block knocked off. But then again, that's the position I've been in for years. It's a weird position to be in.

[Editor’s Note: Portions of this interview were clarified and abbreviated to accommodate space constraints for publication.]


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