Cody Wilson, like many Texan gunsmiths, is fast-talkin’ and fast-shootin’—but unlike his predecessors in the Lone Star State, he’s got 3D printing to help him with his craft. Wilson’s nonprofit organization, Defense Distributed, released a video this week showing a gun firing off over 600 rounds—illustrating what is likely to be the first wave of semi-automatic and automatic weapons produced by the additive manufacturing process. Last year, his group famously demonstrated that it could use a 3D-printed “lower” for an AR-15—but the gun failed after six rounds.
While the Austin, Texas, police were offering grocery cards in exchange for unwanted firearms over the weekend, local activists showed up to outbid the men in uniform, insisting liberty would be better served if the guns were in the hands of law-abiding citizens instead.
At the "no-questions-asked" event held at Oak Meadow Baptist Church in South Austin, the Austin Police Department offered, for example, a $100 Visa grocery card for an unwanted handgun. The activists offered $110 in cash.
After raising thousands of dollars to develop a free, 3-D-printable handgun, a group calling itself Defense Distributed has had to put its plans on hold, after the company providing their printing hardware refused to do business with them. It's an early episode in what is likely to be a long controversy.
A few weeks ago, Frontline premiered a documentary called "Digital Nation". In one segment, the vice-principle of Intermediate School 339, Bronx, NY, Dan Ackerman, demonstrates how he "remotely monitors" the students' laptops for "inappropriate use".
He says "They don't even realize we are watching," "I always like to mess with them and take a picture," and "9 times out of 10, THEY DUCK OUT OF THE WAY."
Even if you dial down the scare rhetoric, 3D printing at the very least seems like it could disrupt the idea that a government can regulate guns or their manufacture. Defense Distributed outright claims that kind of disruption among its goals.
Mere days after the first 3D-printed nonmetallic firearm shot its first rounds, Congressman Steve Israel (a would-be political superhero) is calling for a ban on the "wiki weapons" because their manufacture is untraceable and they cannot be detected via normal screening. It'll be fun to watch Congress try to stuff this genie back into its bottle.