‘Crypto-Anarchist’ Wants You To ‘Download This Gun’

3D Printer at the Fab Lab © 2011 by Keith Kissel, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license

If you’re having trouble finding the perfect automatic weapon, a Texas group headed by a self-described “crypto-anarchist” who wants to “build an organization” around “evading and disintermediating the state” soon might be able to help.

Cody Wilson’s non-profit organization, Defense Distributed, is dedicated to producing and publishing information related to the 3D printing of firearms–and according to the Department of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, it’s all perfectly legal because “[t]here are no restrictions on an individual manufacturing a firearm for personal use.”

The group made headlines for an AR-15 lower (the regulated part) produced using 3D printing that failed after six shots last year, but released a video showing a more recent design successfully shooting off six hundred rounds this week, complete with dramatic soundtrack.

Using 3D printing to create firearms raises a a whole new slew of questions about the practical application of gun violence prevention measures. If you can download plans and print them in the privacy of your home, how will background checks be enforced? Indeed, given the current costs of 3D printing, it’s not clear why anyone would produce a gun this way other than to evade gun safety laws. Wilson claims his plans would work on printers that cost as little as $1,500, but the printer he used to produce the part costs closer to $30,000. Meanwhile, the raw materials necessary to produce Wilson’s AR-15 lower cost between $150-200. The same part can already be purchased elsewhere for less than $135. So lawful gun purchasers can buy their merchandise for cheaper elsewhere, while illicit guns could be printed for significantly more money.

In the long term, however, it is possible that Wilson’s plans could simply enable anyone to produce a cheap firearm in the comfort of their own home. While 3D printers are expensive now, cheaper models are on the horizon even as owners are experimenting with person to person rentals after the AirBnB model, and Wilson claims his designs have been downloaded 10,000 times, not counting downloads via BitTorrent.

(HT: Ars Technica )