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March 27th, 2013
06:14 PM ET

3D gun printing possible "by the end of April"

By Gregory Wallace

Depending on your view of gun rights, Cody Wilson is either a genius or an evil genius.

The Texas law student leads Defense Distributed and its Wiki Weapons Project, with the goal to “create the world’s first 100% 3D printable gun” and to make those plans “freely available.”

“The assumption is one day the technology will become more ubiquitous and widespread,” Wilson said Wednesday on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”

“It will fall in price, and materials will be developed in a better place than they are now, so yes, if you were to have one in your home and you have the gun file, you can just click print and have the gun.”

That computer file would have the instructions for a 3D printer to manufacture gun parts or an entire gun in your home. And if you think 3D printers are the stuff of science fiction and the future, they were the standout products at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year.

“It’s still in its infancy,” Wilson said, but maturity doesn’t take long to follow, he added.

“Well to have a printable gun – it’s my intention to have that done by the end of this month and we’re at the end of March now so it’s my intention to have it done by April,” he said.

Now he finds himself at the crossroads between a developing technology and concerns over gun violence. To some, he’s a pioneer; to others, such as those at Wired Magazine, he’s one of the world’s 15 most dangerous people, right up there, they say, with the president of Syria and an Afghan warlord.

Wilson’s effort drew attention around the time of the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, when his group posted online a video of an AR-15 firearm that included 3D-printed parts. The gun fired six rounds before malfunctioning but demonstrated that such weapons are quickly becoming a reality.

Defense Distributed posted 3D printer instructions to the online database Makerbot, but the site pulled down those plans and the group said it would pursue other distribution methods.

Asked how he would feel if a mentally unbalanced person or a child printed a gun using his plans and killed, Wilson replied: “We’ll see how I feel in the eventuality that that happens.

“I’m willing to hold out some judgment. I don’t know how I’ll feel but I do believe in equality of access to quality production. I think this is something worth doing,” he said. “And I don’t think that we can collectively make a decision to withhold things from people before they do anything wrong.”

To restrict access to this technology would be government going too far, he said.

“When guns become digitized what would you have to do to stop people from getting this?” he asked. “Invade their civil liberties? Step on their internet? These are intolerable.”

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