When Cody Wilson, a libertarian-minded University of Texas law student, first announced plans to fabricate a gun using a 3-D printer in hopes of radically democratizing access to firearms, it seemed a bit like tilting at windmills, especially after the printer he was using was seized.
But Wilson forged ahead, getting help from a San Antonio defense firm, freaking out the New York Times and eventually creating The Cuomo, a 30-round AR-15 magazine.
Now, BBC reports that Wilson has made -- and fired -- the real thing. The process is pretty simple: Design the gun's components on the computer, feed the instructions into the 3-D printer Wilson got off eBay for $8,000, and snap the pieces together. The firing pin -- an ordinary metal nail -- is the only thing not made by the printer.
The end product is rather ugly, with none of the primal allure of brushed steel, but it gets the job done. The BBC piece ends with Wilson firing the thing, dubbed The Liberator by Wilson. He's still sticking to the original plan to put the blueprints online for anyone to access, free of charge.
And thus begins a brave new world in which anyone can get their hands on a working gun. All you need is a 3-D printer, which, come to think of it, is rarer and several times more expensive than an actual gun. Still, though: BE AFRAID.