3D guns: A license to print

A man chooses a gun at the Gun Gallery in Glendale, California.

Even with a federal license, Cody Wilson, the law school student who wants to use 3D printing to manufacture firearms, remains wary the government will shut him down. Wilson, who goes to the University of Texas, is head of an enterprise called Defense Distributed.

Wilson doesn't say whether he thinks the world is a better place with more guns or fewer guns. He takes a libertarian view that technology makes regulation impossible -- including firearms regulation from Congress.

"These old people on the Hill probably really think that they can pass a law and restrict access to guns," Wilson says. "I'm seeing a technology entering the world now that explodes that idea entirely."

Wilson says he's not interested in making his project into what he termed "some mega corporation."  Toward the end of an extended conversation, when pressed about what he really wants to do here, Wilson told us this:

"I'd like to print a goddamn gun, man -- print it without threat of my body being thrown in a cage or being sued for millions of dollars," Wilson says. "My reading is that without an extreme set of licenses and records, that I would be subject to at least half a million dollars in fines and 10 years of federal prison."

3D printing, or "additive manufacturing" uses melted plastic or other materials instead of ink to squirt out shaped objects, such as jewelry, harmonicas, gun barrels or ammunition magazines. Blueprints for 3D printing can be freely shared online.

Click on the audio player above to hear more about 3D printed firearms and the future of gun regulation.


See below for a video from Vice on 3D printed firearms. Warning: This video contains violence and strong language (Rated: Mature 17+).

3D Printed Guns (Documentary)

 

About the author

David Brancaccio is the host of Marketplace Morning Report. Follow David on Twitter @DavidBrancaccio

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