Cody Wilson had a vision to forward the digital revolution by creating the nation’s first firearm on a 3-D printer, and, taking a page from WikiLeaks, share the blueprints with the world via the Internet in what he called the “Wiki Weapons project.” Now he is suing the federal government in hopes of keeping his dream on target – and staying out of prison.
Wilson was so taken with the idea, he dropped out of law school and designed “The Liberator,” the nation’s first pistol built exclusively on a 3-D printer, consisting of 12 separate parts made from plastic and a single metal firing pin.
Within two days of publishing the blueprints on the Internet, on May 5, 2013, 100,000 people around the world had downloaded them. The goal, Wilson said, was to invalidate the government’s “unconstitutional” hold on gun technology.
“The technology will break gun control,” said Wilson, who formed the non-profit organization, Defense Distributed, with his partner, Ben Denio, in Little Rock, Ark., in the summer of 2012. “I stand for freedom.”
But Wilson’s invention also caught the attention of the State Department, which came after him with both barrels blazing. The feds claimed Wilson violated the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, which “requires advance government authorization to export technical data,” and as a result, could spend up to 20 years in prison and be fined as much as $1 million per violation.
Wilson was ordered to remove the blueprints for The Liberator from his web site. The government also told him they were claiming ownership of his intellectual property.
“Defense Distributed is being penalized for trying to educate the public about 3-D guns,” said Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Washington-based Second Amendment Foundation, whose organization is backing Defense Distributed in a court action.
Gottlieb said his Second Amendment group, made up of 650,000 members nationwide, wants to publish theinformation about three-dimensional printing of firearms on its web site as educational material for its members, supporters and general public.
On Wednesday, the Second Amendment Foundation filed a federal lawsuit on in Texas, where Defense Distributed is now based, alleging the State Department, Secretary of State John Kerry and four other State Department officials and the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, are among the defendants who violated Wilson’s First Amendment rights by restraining him from publishing information about three-dimensional printing of arms, as well as his Second and Fifth Amendment Rights.
Josh Blackman, an attorney in Texas who is one of the attorneys representing Wilson, said 3-D printers may lead to a “renaissance of innovation” and noted “the government should tread carefully in restricting this technology to protect intellectual property.”
“Let technology and our constitutional rights be free,” Blackman said.
The Liberator unleashed a panic about the threat of 3-D guns, Blackman said, pointing as an example to statements made by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who has proposed legislation that would ban 3-D guns.
“We’re facing a situation where anyone—a felon, a terrorist—can open a gun factory in their garage and the weapons they make will be undetectable. It’s stomach-churning,” Schumer said at a news conference in May 2013.
However, the threat of the 3-D guns, and the need for regulating them, has been greatly overstated, Blackman said.
Read more: Fox News