Cody Wilson, the Austin man behind the fight for guns made on 3D printers, announced Tuesday that his company has begun offering firearm blueprints for sale, saying a federal judge’s recent order to block access to the files applied only to free downloads from his company’s website.
Customers can name their price for the files — even offer no money — and Defense Distributed will send USB drives containing gun blueprints through the mail, a secure form of communication that was not included in the judge’s order, Wilson said.
“This was not an interruption of our ability to share this information,” he said during a news conference in a downtown Austin hotel. “Everyone in America who wants these files will get them.”
Wilson said he also was allowing others to post and sell gun-making plans on the website of his North Austin company, adding that he was prepared to face additional litigation over the sales.
“The point I’m here to make is, this judge’s order stopping us from simply giving things away was only an authorization that we could sell it, that we could mail it, that we could email it, that we could provide it by secure transfer. I will be doing all of those things now,” he said. “The free exchange of these ideas will never be interrupted.”
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, said he hoped U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik extends Monday’s injunction to include a ban on the sale of the gun files.
“Insecurity is the real product that Defense Distributed is distributing. We must overcome this scheme to thwart all efforts to assure the safety of our schools, airports and other public places,” Doggett said.
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who led the legal challenge that resulted in Monday’s injunction, did not mention seeking an expanded court order in an emailed statement.
“Because of our lawsuit, it is once again illegal to post downloadable gun files to the internet,” Ferguson said. “I trust the federal government will hold Cody Wilson, a self-described ‘crypto-anarchist,’ accountable to that law. If they don’t, President Trump will be responsible for anyone who is hurt or killed as a result of these weapons.”
The State Department under President Barack Obama barred Wilson from posting 3D-printer files for the Liberator, a single-shot pistol he had developed, in 2013, prompting a legal challenge that ended earlier this year when the department backed off, signing a settlement that allowed the blueprints to be posted online and downloaded without legal consequences.
Lasnik’s preliminary injunction blocked that settlement.
Offering the plans for sale was a departure for Defense Distributed, which Wilson founded with the intent to provide information such as gun blueprints for free.
“A lot of this to me was about principle,” Wilson said Tuesday. “For many years, I simply just chose not to sell these files because I’m an open-source activist, I believed in demonstrating there was a right to commit this information to the public domain.”
Money raised from the sales will finance Wilson’s appeal of Monday’s injunction by Lasnik that sought to bar access to 10 files on Defense Distributed’s website — one file containing the 3D-printer designs for the Liberator, and nine blueprints of guns that cannot be built without machine-shop equipment.
Wilson said publicity generated by the legal fight led to his company receiving $200,000 in donations from supporters in the past week — halfway to his goal of $400,000.
Defense Distributed also is offering to host third-party gun files on its internet site and split the profits 50-50 with the owners, he said.
“I haven’t had any chance to approve any of them yet, (but) lots of people have wanted to participate. Since the middle of July, I’ve been advertising that you could participate on our platform, so we have many people in line,” Wilson said.
Monday’s order by Lasnik, sought by 19 states arguing that publication of the blueprints endangered public safety and national security, ignored the fact that the 10 plans have been distributed to numerous other websites, Wilson said.
“Of course, you can go anywhere and download this stuff all over the internet. This action that the states have brought, and, of course, all this intense press coverage, already made sure that that stuff was going to be online forever,” he said.
Wilson said his company received 392 orders for gun plans since the 50-minute news conference began, with many offering $1 and several offering $10 or $15.
“I suppose this is mostly because people want to support us,” Wilson said, adding that several chose to provide no money but will be getting the requested plans anyway.
“I expect to cover my costs, and I expect to demonstrate acquisition of these files in the hundreds of thousands, to the point of demonstrating that there is no effective barring of this information,” he said.