The Wiki Weapon Project Promises A 3D-Printed Handgun For Everyone:
The 3D-printing gun enthusiasts are at it again coming up with master plans to democratize weapons manufacturing, and this time, they’re doing it in the name of the First Amendment. That’s right. The Second Amendment is important too, but according to the visionaries at the loosely organized advocacy group Defense Distributed, this mission is all about freedom of information. They’re calling it the “Wiki Weapon Project”. The ultimate goal: create a deadly 3D-printed handgun that anybody can assemble in the comfort of their own home. This is really happening. Led by University of Texas law student Cody Wilson, Defense Distributed is well on their way to raising the $20,000 they say they need to come up with a 3D-printable gun design, adapt it to cheap printers and spread it around the web. The gun doesn’t have to be fancy or pretty or anything, he says. It doesn’t even have to be durable. It just has to be deadly. “If a gun’s any good, it’s lethal. It’s not really a gun if it can’t threaten to kill someone,” Wilson told Forbes. “You can print a lethal device. It’s kind of scary, but that’s what we’re aiming to show.” Turns out not everybody is cool with this plan. Defense Distributed had been directing donations to a page on the crowdsourced funding site IndieGoGo, where they had raised $2,000 as of Tuesday. But once the site caught wind of what they were up to, they shut down the page. And who could blame them? With three major shootings in the past month alone, gun control is a topic that’s on everybody’s mind, and inventing a gun that any old yokel can just print out in his garage is sort of pushing that conversation in the wrong direction. Or is it? After all, this is America, and here in America, we love freedom. Wilson and his pals have no reservations about assigning lofty libertarian purpose to their Wiki Weapon Project. In said manifesto, they name check George Washington and Thomas Jefferson as original patriots and advocates of the right to bear arms. Wilson takes it a step further in a slapdash fundraising video posted to the group’s website. “Defense distributed as a project, I think, is about the preservation of human dignity in a world of accelerating humanity,” he says. “It’s about collapsing the distinction between digital information and material goods. And ultimately, it may be about that original salvific promise of the free Internet.” This isn’t the first time the idea of a 3D-printed gun has hit the web, though. An amateur gunsmith who goes by the handle HaveBlue uploaded the CAD file for the lower receiver of an AR-15 rifle a few months ago and blogged about printing, assembling and firing the weapon. That was a different proposition, though. The lower receiver is sort of the central part of the AR-15, but HaveBlue had to order the rest of the guns parts through the normal distribution channels. He also got a license to own the powerful rifle. As such, HaveBlue and Defense Distributed alike insist that their projects are completely legal as long as they don’t try to sell the weapons. Indeed, 3D printing technology is new enough that Congress hasn’t had the chance to regulate it. If and when they do, you can be sure we’ll hear more from Washington and Jefferson. Probably not from that manifesto, though. Manifestos and gun-toting men have a pretty sordid history.