Earlier this week I had the pleasure of taking Cody Wilson, mastermind behind Defense Distributed and the Liberator firearm, out to dinner. Well, technically Robert took him out to dinner and I tagged along. But since Robert is otherwise occupied and can’t post at the moment, I get to write the story the way I want. Anyway, while we’ve already interviewed Cody Wilson about the nature of his work and his beliefs (we liked him before he was cool) it was nice to get an update on how he’s doing since he became one of the most feared and hated people to gun control advocates. And let me say that anyone who can make Chuck Schumer brown his pants is a friend in my book . . .
The first thing we wanted to know is if he’s worried about a possible stretch as a guest of the the federal government in one of their high security greybar hotels. Cody’s response: “I’m looking forward to it. It’ll give me time to catch up on my reading.”
As far as he’s concerned, the government might get him on any number of technicalities. Cody started listing the ways that Uncle Sam could justify putting him away, almost as if they were badges of honor — thumbing his nose at their attempts to control the proliferation of firearms. It fits well with the “crypto-anarchist” persona that he’s developed as his efforts with 3D printing have progressed.
Robert was concerned that Cody didn’t have a lawyer already on speed dial in the event of his arrest. We started spit-balling lawyers that might be interested in taking his case, and Cody wasn’t too impressed with any of them. Alan Gottleib was definitely a no-go. “Didn’t he support that Toomey-Manchin background check bill? No, f*** him.”
As the appetizers were being served we started talking about the gun itself, the Liberator, and its technical specifications. At the moment, the only working model is a smoothbore .380 caliber version that technically falls under the “Any Other Weapon” category of U.S. firearms law. Cody says there’s an alternate version available with rifling, but that the rifling would either not survive the first shot or the added pressure would split the barrel. He says he hasn’t tried yet, but based on his experience it won’t be effective. Translation: it won’t work with rifling.
We asked about shotgun shells, and apparently they’ve already tried — and failed. “There’s something about the rapidly expanding cartridge” that Cody says splits the barrel whenever they fire it. Either that, or the plastic wadding gets caught on the side of the barrel and obstructs it.
But the gun isn’t what the members of the mainstream media he’s talked to are most interested in discussing. They want to hear about the implications of the technology, and Cody says that’s exactly the way he wants it. “They all accept the premise,” he says, “that now that the gun is out there nothing can take it back. And that’s the way he wants it portrayed, as if it’s an unstoppable force that governments can’t control. That it has happened, and all there is to do now is watch the aftermath. Can’t stop the signal . . .
“I’ve talked to people who have walked into hacker spaces and seen a row of printers all printing Liberator parts,” Cody said as his roasted chicken dish was being placed in front of him. Hacker spaces are collaborative locations where exceedingly nerdy people get together, pool their money to buy equipment and space and experiment with technology, usually including 3D printers. Hacker spaces have popped up in cities across the world, including New York, Washington, D.C., London, Helsinki and Lisbon.
Cody says that there are even Liberators being printed in China right now, which is the reason that there’s a Simplified Chinese version of the “readme” (instruction) file in the download package. “I’m actually meeting a girl later tonight to translate it better.”
“The next big thing is getting a picture of one of these things printed out in another country,” Cody says. He says that he isn’t actively enticing people to break the law in other countries, but according to him a picture of a fully assembled Liberator in the middle of London isn’t far off. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if such a picture leaks out after he finishes his final exams this weekend.
As for his own future, Cody says that he’ll keep refining the design, but doesn’t want to stay in the limelight. Robert kept offering suggestions as to how to increase his profile and get more publicity for the project, but Cody says that he’s happy to melt back into the background once the furor dies down. But while the spotlight is still on him and his plastic fantastic, he seems to be having tons of fun debating the talking heads. Well, most of them. “I still have to decide if I want to go on Colbert,” he mentioned with some trepidation.