By Spencer Kellogg | @Spencer_Kellogg
I heard an interesting profile on the podcast Planet Money last night (Planet Money – Gun Man). The report detailed the short but incredible biography of Cody Wilson, 28, an Austin Texas native and founder of Defense Distributed (https://defdist.org). He uses 3-D printing technology to protect the rights of gun owners in America while posing serious questions about the limits of free speech and new technologies. Often touted as a manufacturing breakthrough for the technological age, 3-D printing is changing the scale of production and allowing companies and individuals to dynamically shift the way they create products. Wilson and Defense Distributed are making it possible for anyone with access to a wifi signal and a 3-D printer the opportunity to manufacture a fully functioning unlicensed plastic gun in the privacy of their own home.
Wilson describes himself as a crypto-anarchist and his activism is reminiscent of some of the most hardcore elements of the libertarian movement. As a law student at the University of Texas, Wilson published digital blueprints for a 3-D printable handgun he coined The Liberator. Within two days The Liberator blueprints were downloaded over 100,000 times instantly making him one of the most successful libertarian activists of the past half-century and a focal point for anti-gun activists and government watchdogs alike. The Department Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance claimed Wilson was in violation of the international exportation of unapproved guns and demanded the blueprints be taken down. Combining the agorist principles of Samuel Konkin with the free market, fuck you mentality of Ross Ulbricht, Wilson is striving to inform Americans how they can individually participate in a counter-economic action to utilize their God-given rights.
Unsurprisingly, Wilson has been met with social backlash and government roadblocks at every single turn. From an ideological standpoint, opponents argue that soaring gun violence in the country should be met with less access to guns, not more. From a legal standpoint, the dissemination of free information (blueprints) has been challenged as a breach of gun trafficking laws by ITAR (https://gun.laws.com/itar) and Wilson has incurred millions of dollars in legal fees in defense. From a cultural standpoint, Wilson is often attacked and treated like a juvenile punk by an angry and dismissive media that seem hell-bent on denying full second amendment rights of American citizens. From a simple manufacturing g standpoint Wilson has been threatened with legal recourse by 3-D printing companies (3-D Printing Company Seizes Machine)) who have refused to allow him to use of their machines as a protest of his ideas in favor of freedom and gun rights.
As he battles litigation in the courts, Wilson continues to expand first and second amendment rights. He created the free speech payment platform Hatereon that allows for the financial support of radical and controversial thinkers who have been banned from Patreon, PayPal, and Kickstarter. Hatereon has been featured on the SPLC’s “hate watch list” (SPLC on Hatereon) and features some of the alt and new right’s most outspoken members including blacklisted comedian Sam Hyde and Daily Stormer chief Andrew Anglin. By 2015 Wilson was ready to take his ideas on free-market anti-government gun ownership to another level completely. He listed a new product on Defense Distributed called the Ghost Gunner and this time he wasn’t using plastic. The Ghost Gunner (https://ghostgunner.net) is a 1500$ CNC (computer numerical controlled) desktop gun manufacturing mill that can create a range of firearms from handguns to AR-15’s out of aluminum material alone. For $100 worth of aluminum, any individual in this country with a basic understanding of computer software can use this CNC mill to manufacture firearms on their desktop table. No serial numbers & no government licenses. What Wilson’s CNC mill promises are completely unregulated under-the-table firearms and anti-gun activists aren’t happy about it.
In the Planet Money podcast, you can hear the general disdain for Wilson seeping through the voices of the two liberal reporters who poke fun at his anarchist ideas and show a morbid misunderstanding of the weapons he champions. They do a poor job of representing the activist and they casually paint him as nothing more than a smart man gone awry while badgering him incessantly about the Sandy Hook shooting in 2013. In their narrow view of gun owners, the reporters are incapable of seeing past the linear correlation between second amendment rights and mass shootings and as such miss other important parts of the equation. As is often the case with the progressive left their interest lies more in basic emotions and hysterical fear rather than in practical, reasoned, Jeffersonian thought. In their dogged march to rid our land of guns and the culture that embodies them, 2nd amendment opponents rarely make mention of the very real thread that SSRI prescription pharmaceutical drugs have played in many of the mass murders we witness. When have you ever heard a pundit question the avalanche of advertisements and societal bias towards psychiatric drugs that have been suggested to possess the capability of turning depressives into murderous zombies (Anti Depressants & Mass Shootings)? What is stranger is the left’s correct distrust of power structures while also suggesting we imbue those governmental structures with more power and able force by limiting (or outright eliminating) the inalienable rights of gun owners in our country? The same pedagogical cult that suggests we have an out of control police state also believe the powers-that-be capable and humble enough to be the only ones trusted with these “weapons of death”. Many times throughout the interview I wanted to jump in and defend Wilson myself as the reporter turned the conversation far away from the ideas of freedom and responsible gun ownership and into the ideologically empty pursuits of neo-liberal utopian idealism.
Our country is one of a few in the entire world that treats individuals as kings of their own bodies, their own minds, and their own property. It is a dangerous freedom that requires the utmost belief in the decency of humans to not inflict horror on one another. At the heart of this Wilson’s activism is an ideological challenge to the idea that governments should have substantial control over their people and that the rights of individuals should be limited for an abbreviated state compelled safety. As free citizens why are we not allowed to manufacture our own guns? We are taught to believe that it is a crime to do so but it is, in fact, one of our most express rights as American citizens.
Why aren’t we allowed access to the digital blueprints of firearms for use as we sit fit? Why are activists like Cody Wilson demonetized by the techno-literate elite who preach about diversity while closing equity avenues for counter status-quo thought? Why, as free citizens, are we subjected to institutionalized background checks administered by government lackeys to purchase firearms on our own volition? Is there not a court of law to prosecute those who step outside the boundaries of freedom and use force against their neighbors? I know men and women across this nation who own AK-47s, shotguns, Glocks, and rifles who I consider to be some of the safest and most responsible American citizens in the entire society.
One of the great failures of the modern libertarian party is that they have not pushed activist members like Cody Wilson to the front of the movement. While so many in the impotent leadership backpedal into convenient smiles and slick suits while lecturing about ballot access, men like Cody Wilson are putting forward concrete and actionable products for new counter economic measures that atomize the suggestions of our strongest thinkers. A dangerous man is a free man and Cody Wilson’s ideas possess the ability to remind us