The Liberator 3D printed pistol made Cody Wilson famous. The State Department made it moot, censoring the files needed to print the pistol. Cody’s Company, Defense Distributed, now makes the open source code-driven Ghost Gunner 2. It’s a desktop CNC machine that makes it dead simple [sic] to complete unregistered 80 percent firearms. I stopped by to schmooze with DD’s founder (liberator?) . . .

The last time I hung out with the Austin-based entrepreneur, Mr. Wilson was talking a mile-a-minute, throwing quotes from classic literature, obscure philosophers and radical intellectuals like a computerized quote-throwing machine. Cody 2.0 is a different cat entirely. Subdued. Relaxed. Entirely coherent.

Credit/blame his commercial success. Mr.Wilson reveals that DD is currently shipping some 100 made-in-America Ghost Gunners per month, at $1500 a pop. Plus $100 shipping. Or not. For some reason, some customers like to pick up their Ghost Gunner 2 in person.

Yes, there is that.

“As far as I know, no one has committed a crime with a gun completed on one of our machines,” Mr. Wilson tells TTAG. That said, “I have been contacted by law enforcement when someone [with a Ghost Gunner] was caught doing something else illegal.”

And did he provide customer info.? Nope. “I will not honor a request for customer records,” Mr. Wilson promises. That said. “If someone clearly did something bad, I’d help. But I’m not looking to do the work of the court.”

But Mr. Wilson and his band of nerdy pranksters are doing plenty of work, upgrading previous gen Ghost Gunners, expanding sales to retail distributors and creating software to complete new (for the machine) 80 percent handguns. Business is booming.

“With Trump’s election, a lot of people are more confident about buying the Gunner,” Mr. Wilson reveals, “given the political climate.”

And although Defense Distributed’s facilities look more like a college frat than a high-tech manufacturing facility, I’m a lot more confident that Mr. Wilson is more than a one-hit wonder. He’s dropped his riotous rhetoric and gotten down to business. And while political disruption makes great press, the business of America is business.

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64 Responses to Defense Distributed Cody Wilson: “I Won’t Turn Over Customer Records”

  1. The State Department made it moot, censoring the files needed to print the pistol.

    Uhhhh – not really. In 24hrs they were all over the world by means of p2p file sharing. Their actions were metaphorically, the state department complaining that it was too big while they were getting shafted. There was nothing they could do about that and we all laughed at them while it happened.

  2. If you have $1500 for one of these you probably aren’t a criminal and criminals normally steal?

    • If you were criminal enough to “borrow” US ARMY Reserve personnel and equipment to recover $400K from your freezer during a natural disaster where people were left to die in a nursing home, you might have enough jack to buy a ghost gun easy bake oven. Cause prison changes people but it mostly F’s your RTKABA.

      Did Hillary return all of the clinton foundation $$$ from foreign gov’ts? If so, she could possibly buy a bathroom server edition, even if she’s jailed next to Ohole and Comey.

      • “Did Hillary return all of the clinton foundation $$$ from foreign gov’ts?”

        Hell, no.

        Just *why* do you think she hems and haws when asked if she would consider a future campaign?

        More to the point, why are there ‘rumors’ of Chelsea being groomed for a NY state congress seat?

        Answer: To keep the cash flowing into the Clinton family slush fund for her use, or her future children’s political ambitions, of course…

        • The Clintons may not care at all about political ambitions. But they care a great deal about collecting money by fleecing people who think the Clintons might win some office in the future. Her new PAC is just such a stash for their use. Even if no campaigns are successful, just starting one anywhere lets them spend as much as they want on “Trumped” up expenses like travel and dining and lodging, etc. They are very creative that way.

      • @JoeR Forgive me for being ignorant, but what incident are you referring to?

        I’d like to read up about what you’re referring to.

        • Ken – I believe he was referring to an elected official who, in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, used US military personnel to salvage stuff from his flooded New Orleans home.

          While there were still people waiting to be rescued.

          I believe this is the incident:

          “Amid Katrina Chaos, Congressman Used National Guard to Visit Home”

          http://abcnews.go.com/US/HurricaneKatrina/story?id=1123495

        • He’s talking about Katrina. Lots of meat eaters living in doors to snatch up legal guns, too. Which, btw, were never returned. Anyway, the silver lining was that the gun community finally got to see confiscation and what it would look like. It brought a lot of awareness to military and LEO about following unconstitutional orders. It’s a conversation that hasn’t been had in a few decades. There was a a lot of focus and backlash to those events. On the other side emerged a renewed appreciation of the constitution for most local LEO and mil service members. I will add this, the most lawless and unconstitutional LEOs are and will always be those on the federal level. They can never be counted on to take the civilian side. They are some of the most evil amongst us.

        • Good luck with the locals, with that trust and all. The vast majority of them will do whatever it takes to keep those million(s) dollar pensions going.

  3. Big ol’ middle finger to the official control freaks. Good for him.

    Also I see he is a fan of the Achievement Hunters. I like this guy.

    • Ironic since most of Achievement Hunter (including the source of the ‘People Like Grapes’ shirt) are very anti-gun. Or at least anti-gun rights. And they’re based in Austin, Texas.

  4. I so want one of these. I went to his website last week and saw they were taking deposits. I’m kind of leary giving money in advance for anything, especially something where the ATF can come in and close him down. But if it was buy it now and ship, I’d get it.

    • I honestly don’t think the ATF would do that right now, considering the sig brace turn around. They have better things to do like actually enforce the law instead of trying to make determinations and ban things which isn’t their jurisdiction.

  5. Does he need a CPA? Lol. I fully support what he’s doing and wish I had the $1500 to spend on what is essentially a purpose built CNC machine.

  6. I wish him well. Yeah a brave new world we live in. I’m holding a $20 phone instantly connected with the whole world…

  7. I like it that Cody Wilson makes everyone nervous. Democrats, Socialist progressives, libertarians, Republican etc. Dispite all his political word mush, when it comes down to it he is a naked capitalist.
    Also at $1500 a pop he is not selling his product to the “Great Un-Washed”. Will his product be capable of select fire? What if you can make the parts to make it select fire?
    The democrats will be back in the white house some day. When that day comes many people might be making their own at home in a basement with their own Replicator.

    • Capable of making it full auto? Thats 1/8″ hole at 12-o’clock over the selector…. you dont need a $1500 machine to do that. You can buy those hole alignment jigs on amazon for $15.

    • He’s a self-aggrandizing punk, who has drawn a a ton of unwanted attention to the hobbyist gun world. He’s done nothing but line his pockets, get his 15 minutes, and make legislation restricting home-built firearms more likely.

      Every time this Judas is beatified by POTG, I understand why Western Civilization would allow immigrants required by their religion to destroy said Western Civilization.

      • He created the world’s first generation of 3D printed guns. Ran the world’s most successful gun file sharing website. Has been in court protecting the 2A for almost three years, a suit co-sponsored by the Second Amendment Foundation and supported by the EFF and members of Congress. Now he sells a machine to automate finishing 80 percent receivers.

        • He “created” nothing, printed guns were happening before his self-promotion by people who actually do something, not just pumped you wannabes up.

      • You think his showmanship dangerously exposed your hobby, and you fear losing it. I recommend switching to decaf and looking up The Streisand Effect.

        You can’t stop the signal.

        • I love Firefly and Serenity. That said, I am sooooo f’n tired of hearing this quote taken completely out of context. Let’s talk about what really happened, shall we? “He killed me Mal, killed me with a sword. How weird is that?” Remember the context, ‘soon enough there will be no room for people like me’. Mal knows that the end is near, for him to have any chance of doing what he’s doing, because tech.

          The gov very much can “stop the signal” if they actually put their mind to it. They can filter the internet at will, crank out a list of everybody on this forum in seconds, and have a good chunk of us charged with felony conspiracy within a week. After say 10% are charged, how many do you think would really be here, ever again?

      • Come on 16, the “Don’t rock the boat” argument isn’t going to work here. Your argument, generalized: Be quiet and keep your head down and maybe we can keep our gun rights.

        Come on man.

        • No, it has nothing to do with ‘not rocking the boat’ and everything to do with proper battle tactics. Why do Uber, Lyft, and Air BnB exist? They’re all blatantly illegal, from being gypsie cabs to gypsie hotels, they are strictly verboten according to the laws we accept. If you went and asked permission, or even told the gov you were going to start them, you would have been buried in a heartbeat.

          They all exist for the sole reason that they have established ‘facts on the ground’ before the Feds even noticed. Please read The Art of War to understand how business is done. I don’t know when it fell out of the basic HS reading, but please, go read.

          Before this profit-attention-driven nobody existed, there were scores of hobbyists making they’re own guns. They still exist, though now they have the gov watching them, thanks 100% to this blowhard asshole.

      • Attention of the gun grabbers would have hit us sooner or later, might as well go on the offensive for once instead of cuck.

        • A lot of the complaints about him are from the 3d printing community. They argue that he should have waited until 3d printing was ubiquitous or at least considered to be of great value to a broad segment of the population before drawing massive amounts of negative attention to it. That way legislatures wouldn’t have broad support to place burdensome regulations on the new scary technology.

          Their arguments do have merit.

        • Despite being a Texan, you have have demonstrated an analytical mind for several posts. There is hope for everyone…. 🙂

  8. hmmm… at $1,500, I’d do it if I could sell the finished product to friends and family. If I can’t do that legally, I’d have to be a pretty committed prepper to buy it just for my own armory production!

    • IANAL, but if I understand correctly, you cannot sell the weapons you manufacture, you cannot gift the weapons you manufacture.

      I believe you CAN, however rent out your CNC machine. What anyone else produces with it should be none of your concern.

  9. So now all we need is businesses in every state that will let you use the machine for nominal fee.

    • The ATF has issued a determination letter that such a business is “in the business” of manufacturing firearms and requires an FFL. As such, the firearms built using the machine would require a serial number and all that goes with it. At that point, you might as well just buy a complete lower.

      • So we need someone with balls, disposable income and a good lawyer to do it and fry the ATF over a legal spit if they try and enforce their ‘determination’ as law when the business in question is providing nothing but a room and machine for a user to manufacture something him or herself. Especially under this administration.

        For cover maybe they should give the machine a setting for making something else as well. User can pick the ‘lower’ setting or the ‘teacup’ setting.

        • Do we have case law yet from the fight over cigarette machines?
          If you buy a pound of “pipe tobacco” that’s far better suited to cigs than to pipes, and a carton of cig tubes, you can use this tube stuffing machine here…

        • The ATF position is definitely overly broad. Though I believe the business you propose is on the edge of the law. I think a business that rents all sorts of equipment including this machine for use off premises would be within the statute and regulations I’ve looked at. Not sure how a court would see it because you never can be.

      • This is incorrect and likely intentional misinformation. They are selling a machine tool that anyone can buy and use without strings. ATF 2015-1 says you need a license if you charge someone to use your commercial equipment on your premises and under your control.

        • I had never gotten into building 80% lowers, but at the time there was serious talk of “build parties” being warned not to proceed, where folks where doing nothing more than sharing tools and info. Even Jim Fuller got shut down by the ATF for his traveling armorers class. And he did was teach. IMO, I think it’s still very much in the air how the ATF views “manufacturing”. Still, if you’re alone, in your own house, using your own tools, you’d be safe. On the other hand, if the ATF wants to pursue Cody and his company with federal charges, there’s nothing to stop them. He’ll be forced into a long, protracted legal battle that could force him into bankruptcy while facing federal charges. For what exactly? Ask Ares armor in California. The goal of the ATF isn’t so much to create new precedents, imo, its to shut down his business in a way that scares the shit out of his customers and future customers.

        • . On the other hand, if the ATF wants to pursue Cody and his company with federal charges, there’s nothing to stop them. He’ll be forced into a long, protracted legal battle that could force him into bankruptcy while facing federal charges.

          There is one thing to stop them, federal prosecutors.
          ATF has their own lawyers (who pretty much run the bureau in a time of useless temporary directors), but they don’t have their own prosecutors.
          However, that’s not much of a limitation. If a SAC wants to ruin your life, he can shop you out to multiple US Attorneys. It doesn’t matter that the first ten tell him to piss off, if the eleventh one shares his desire to bankrupt you for no good reason.

        • 1. Read Hannibal’s comment.

          2. There are strings attached by federal law.

          3. ATF 2015-1 specifically says it doesn’t matter if the machine is on your premises. The letter declares a machine you own to be under your control largely because you determine who can use it. Under the letter, if you own it, it is under your control.

          If anyone is interested, just Google ATF 2015-1. Most of the meat of the letter is in the final section “Use of Manufacturing Machines, Tools, or Equipment.”

        • ATF has repeatedly ruled in private letters post 2015 that “…there is no statute that prohibits an individual from using his neighbor’s equipment to make his personal firearm.” Further when they refer to ATF Ruling 2015-1, their emphasis is that it concerns “a business allowing persons to perform manufacturing processes on firearms.” The relevant facts in that analysis are premises, control, and commercial purpose. This Texas lawyer is either a Fed or not a practicing attorney.

        • “This activity may occur either at a fixed premises, such as a machine shop, or a
          temporary location, such as a gun show or event.” ATF Rul. 2015-1.

          Based on the information available to the public and not Zino’s secret knowledge of plenty of private letters, I’d say that premises isn’t a key factor.

          ATF seems to have a broad definition of control in the letter. The way they go about describing it, I believe their opinion would be that as long as you still own the machine, you have “dominion and control” of the machine.

          In the business is probably the key factor. It would be hard to argue that you are in the business if you received no economic benefits from letting your neighbor/friend use your machine.

          You could probably also make a few lowers and sell the machine. Then that guy could do the same and so on. I would not have agreements to sell the machine before being through with it. The ATF would probably consider that an association of individuals.

          As we all know, the ATF will probably go after anyone who violates the “spirit” of the law, if not the letter.

          Hannibal’s comment is the exact type of thing the ATF ruling is saying requires an FFL. An ATF ruling has no force of law.* It is not a statute. It is not a regulation. It is the opinion of a regulatory agency that is also a law enforcement agency that has a tendency to commit atrocities. My advice is to not poke the bear. Unless you’re Hannibal’s hypothetical brass balled, deep pocketed, well lawyered individual. You would probably win on most points, but as the model rocketry people found out, it could take you most of a decade to both win and get the ATF to comply with court orders.

          *But see Chevron deference.

  10. I would like to get one – but would want to pick up in person and pay cash.

    Also, it would have to be able to produce a product that is actually legal in CT.

  11. Woo, good work. That guy’s a major snarler! He’s in it to win it, has the resolve the NRA lacks.

  12. If I ran a business like this, there wouldn’t be *any* customer records. Order one of my toys? Fine. We send it to you, take the money, and wipe your name/address from the computer as soon as delivery is confirmed.

  13. I’m pretty sure the ATF put out a letter saying if you own the machine and somebody else uses it, you are now a firearms manufacturer.

    • Yep. The idea was to deny the use of Makerspaces, build parties, and machine shops renting out machine time. However, the phrasing was such that it prohibited use of any resources except your own.

      In the eyes of the ATF, that’s not a bug. That’s a feature.

    • This is misinformation. Educate yourself. ATF 2015-1 regulates commercial manufacturers, not private individuals.

      • Hmmm until I see an ATF opinion defining the line between business and personal, I don’t think I’m going to be a guinea pig for that scenario!

        • ATF probably has many opinions on the line between in the business of and not. But most of those are probably about selling and not manufacturing. The ones I’ve read were.

          Just about everyone else has a narrower view of “in the business” than the ATF does when it comes to manufacturing. Even the ATF has a narrower definition of “in the business” when it comes to selling.

  14. While everyone is freaking out about ‘ghost guns’ few are aware that you can now mail order everything you need to build a cruise missile in your living room. Guidance and propulsion are available off the shelf. A war head would take a little more work.

    The drones you can buy in any electronics store are very capable, but it would be very easy to build a turbojet powered missile complete with gps guidance and real time video.

    As I’ve watched the tech develop over the last decade, I’m always surprised that some crazy hasn’t done it yet.

    As for guns, I don’t know how long it will take to sell a MakerBot replicator that laser sinters metal instead of printing with plastic, but I’m sure it will be in our lifetime. Twenty to thirty years ago 3D printers were super expensive and now they are children’s toys. Airplane manufacturers like Airbus are currently making titanium parts with machines that I’m sure cost millions. I would think that hobby machines that use metals with a lower melting point like aluminum would be a lot easier. If you had a small programmable CNC like the Ghost Gunner, a 3D metal printer to make aluminum parts and a good 3D printer for plastic there isn’t a whole lot you couldn’t make.

  15. CR Wilson is an inspiration to people that like to invent and work with leading edge technologies. He did not invent a Quadcopter that can drop grenades. He created a machine that makes an object that people already have “common” access to! If you need a “Boogieman” it is NOT Cody R. Wilson. That person is not in Public / Plain sight!

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