The home page of Defense Distributed’s website has set a date for when “the age of the downloadable gun formally begins”: Aug. 1.
That’s when the Austin, Texas company plans once again to post blueprints on how to 3D-print guns, after being ordered to take them down five years ago. Cody Wilson, head of Defense Distributed, sued the U.S. government in 2015 on free-speech grounds. He won.
Wired reported Tuesday that the Department of Justice settled with Wilson a couple of months ago, in a deal that includes paying for some of his legal fees.
The DOJ did not return a request for comment.
During the years when he was prohibited from sharing his DIY-gun blueprints online, Wilson raised money by selling Ghost Gunners, or computer-controlled milling machines that allow users to carve gun parts out of aluminum. Wired reported that he sold about 6,000 Ghost Gunners around the nation for about $1,675 each, which would have yielded him about $10 million.
Wilson told this publication Wednesday that Wired “overstated how much money we have,” but did not answer a follow-up question about exactly how much money he made. Wilson also said he will continue to sell Ghost Gunners and provide the gun-printing information for free.
When asked about Defense Distributed’s claimed nonprofit status — he told Wired he was raising money only for legal fees — he insisted it is a nonprofit, but that “we abandoned our 501(c)3 application years (ago) after lots of resistance from IRS.”
In 2013, when Wilson first fired his 3D-printed gun dubbed the “Liberator,” he put the blueprints for it online, and reports say the plans were downloaded hundreds of thousands of times before he was ordered to take them down. Since then, he and his group have grown their collection to include blueprints for putting together AR-15 frames and other semi-automatic weapons. They will be uploaded soon, thanks to his legal victory.
San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation filed an amicus brief in support of Wilson’s lawsuit.
“The issue in this case wasn’t whether it’s good or bad for people to have the ability to make guns,” said Kit Walsh, senior staff attorney for the EFF, on Wednesday. “Rather, the issue was whether the government’s process for banning and permitting online speech had adequate safeguards … Those safeguards are important to prevent discriminatory application of the law and ensure that speech isn’t restricted in an overbroad way — whatever you think of the speech in this particular case.”
Wilson told Wired that he was prepared to put the gun blueprints back online and defend the server on which they’re stored if Hillary Clinton became president and cracked down on guns. “I’d call a militia out to defend the server, Bundy-style,” he said.
That didn’t happen — according to Wired, the DOJ settlement promises to change export laws surrounding firearms below .50 caliber and move their regulation to the Commerce Department — but here’s what else Wilson told Wired: “All this Parkland stuff, the students, all these dreams of ‘common sense gun reforms’? No. The internet will serve guns, the gun is downloadable.”
In February, a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, left 17 students and staff dead, and 17 others were wounded.
(c)2018 the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)
Visit the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) at www.mercurynews.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.