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Printable Gun May Yet Be a Reality, With a Little Help from a San Antonio Defense Firm

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A few weeks back we told you about Cody Wilson, the UT Austin law student who heads a group called Defense Distributed. Wilson and co. would like to make a printable gun, a process that was stymied after the company that was renting them the printer abruptly seized it earlier this month, apparently concerned about liability issues if the project was successful.

Now, Wired's Danger Room blog reports that Defense Distributed has quietly resumed work on the project and may begin ballistics testing at some point thanks to help from a defense firm in San Antonio. Wilson told Wired's Robert Beckhusen that the company, which he declined to name, will provide DD with a "safe haven, basically" with floor space to set up and test the guns, whenever they actually exist.

Beckhusen also reports that another company, this one based in Austin, is donating manufacturing space to the group. But one rather crucial thing is still missing: a 3D printer of their very own. Wilson said that one licensed gun manufacturer initially seemed willing to let the group use his printer before getting "cold feet." DD is in the process of obtaining a manufacturing license of their own from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms.

"We have sourced two new printers for rental, but sans license we've not yet ordered," he told us today. "There are are additional concerns, but fortunately we've been allowed to rent time on a machine in the interim. There are a handful of new designs since we last spoke, and with our testing site established and instruments inbound, the only thing between us and gun printing is a few weeks and some returned paperwork."

Wilson has always maintained that this project is less about making guns per se and more about democratizing the manufacturing process (which didn't stop the New York Times from really freaking out about the whole idea). The comment thread over at Wired has developed into an invigorating debate on self-defense, the role of government, and the attenuation of our civil liberties.

"I hope someone punches every living member of your family in the face today," one thoughtful commenter writes. "And then goes and digs up the corpses of all of your recently deceased relatives and punches them in the face, too."

Wilson is pretty serene about the arguments raging around the project, including, as Wired pointed out, the Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence's executive director calling him "an extremist" who wants an "anarchical society" where "individuals with privately printed guns would fight it out to vindicate their rights. Might would make right and an arms race would ensue."

"Criticism," Wilson tell us, "Doesn't bother me in the least."

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