DHS Wants Defense Distributed’s Plastic Gun

RF and Nick did their best to keep Austin weird last night by schmoozing dining with Defense Distributed’s main brain, Cody Wilson. Among the interesting tidbits they pried out of him thanks to the liberal application of great food and French wine is that Big Sis wants one of his guns. That’s right, DHS wants to give a Liberator the full going over, no doubt to see how well the TSA’s blue-gloved gropers who man airport security operations can ID a printed plastic handgun. Here’s their email exchange . . .

On May 7, 2013 12:58 PM, “Levine, Bob” wrote:

We are contractors for a government agency and hold an FFL license for them. We have been instructed find out what the cost to purchase this gun would be along with time frame for delivery.

Hopefully you can respond asap as we have a presentation to give


Bob Levine
SRA International
Senior Director


From: Cody Wilson
Sent: Tuesday, May 07, 2013 2:03 PM
To: Levine, Bob
Subject: Re: liberator- TSA requirement

The gun is not for sale. It is an experimental prototype. I’ll lend or make you one of you like, but better to put them in contact with me.

From: “Levine, Bob”
Date: May 7, 2013 1:24 PM
Subject: RE: liberator- TSA requirement
To: “Cody Wilson”

Thank you for the quick response.

Have forwarded your response to the PM– will let you know if there is anything we will need


Bob Levine
SRA International
Senior Director



  1. avatar Big C says:

    Why doesn’t he just send them the CAD file? Isn’t that the point?

    1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      Presumably they’d rather pay a reasonable price for a chunk o’ plastic than spend time and money setting up a fab shop.

      1. avatar GC says:

        And then pop him for selling the .gov an “illegal” weapon.

        1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          This is exactly what I was thinking. I would neither sell nor “lend” anything to anyone. How does Cody Wilson even know if the person contacting him is legitimate?

        2. avatar Bob says:

          Point them to the file to build one if it is open source.
          If not tell them that they are SOL.

          Either way get a lawyer and advise him of the contact NOW.

          DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES ALLOW THE PROTOTYPE TO BE GIVEN TO ANYONE (to hand someone is sale under federal law even without exchange of money)

          Patent it NOW.

    2. avatar Nemo says:

      How about a real simple reply like “FOAD, I’m wise to your attempts at entrapment”!

      1. avatar Bob says:

        I would have sat on the email for 9 business days before thinking about replying…

        1. avatar Totenglocke says:

          Same, then I’d inform them that the cost of obtaining one of the guns would cost at least $15 million.

    3. avatar Texas Tea says:

      I’m no software wizard, but if DHS has the file, can’t they just send out a bot that scours the web for instances where this file appears, and corrupt it so no one can receive a working copy? If so, forget all the FFL, pricing, patent vs free, and entrapment issues – you just make sure no one ever receives a working file!

      1. avatar Stinkeye says:

        Nope. That’s not how the internet works.

  2. avatar Joke & Dagger says:

    Screw ’em. Let them download the file and obtain the printer and materials just like the common folk.

    1. avatar Not Your Mother says:

      How much will it cost?

      One bazillion dollars.

      1. avatar C says:

        a bloke in his garage? about $600. The government? $400 million.

  3. avatar Leo Atrox says:

    “we have a presentation to give” … This wouldn’t be a presentation to promote the proposted “Undetectable Firearms Modernization Act” which would outlaw unlicensed manufacture of plastic frames and magazines, would it?

    I wouldn’t trust them with one. Since the detectors at airports allow a measure of adjustment of their sensitivy, it would be easy enough to tune the scanner so that it could not detect the metal firing pin. (Which, of course, isn’t saying that most airports currently have theirs adjusted to detect it … I’ve been at numerous airports. Some would detect the smallest bits of metal–such as the snaps on my shirt–and some wouldn’t detect my keys and belt buckle.)

  4. avatar Tim U says:

    Because then they could make any number of undisclosed changes to it, then declare their modified contraption as an illegal NFA item/illegal something or other.

    The ATF has been known to do that when they want to make something stick and can’t get it to on its own.

    1. avatar CrustyOldGeezer says:

      You mean like Ruby Ridge?

  5. avatar Stacy says:

    I used to work for SRA back when they were privately held and cool. Sorry to see such a lame email exchange with their name on it..

  6. avatar Alex G. says:

    Send them the CAD file and let them get their own 3D printer to make one.

  7. avatar ammo-Zombie says:

    Bill them the cost for 10 3d printers if they are too lazy to make it themselves
    there is always a fee for ignorance and inability

    1. avatar Ted says:

      Hey!! That’s my (and your) money you’re encouraging them to waste.

      1. avatar MMGG says:

        I’d rather have it go to Cody Wilson’s project than the other garbage they will spend it on, like more ways to violate the 4th Amendment without people noticing.

      2. avatar Mikeinid says:

        It. Is. All. Wasted. Where hardly matters.

        1. avatar ketos says:

          Exactly, taxes are theft. We really have no say where the money goes, no matter what, so the best we can do is work the system to pay in as little as possible (with our near useless vote, accounting, etc) so government spending will be self-correcting/prioritizing

  8. avatar leebeef says:

    Never release any information about how to make a gun, plans, blueprints, because first of all as an inventor it will effect your patent rights, copyrights, and you will lose control of the device. Also by releasing such information it will be used against the inventor, creator, and helps ban this device as new legislation is crafted for such a ban. Terrorists and anybody can get a gun for money (cash). I believe the real way to stop these terrorists is to first of all find a way to screen for plastics and glass. Second the death penalty for anybody who attempts to sneak a weapon thru security for the purpose of committing a crime should die! If you sneak a gun on an airplane for the purpose of terrorism death is the penalty. Enough playing around!

    1. avatar Human Being says:

      What’s the penalty if you sneak a gun into the terminal for the purpose of “this holster’s so comfortable I forgot my .380”?

    2. avatar Skyler says:

      Their plan is to offer the design for free, so they don’t need to patent it, even if your explanation were correct.

      By publicizing everything about the design, they create prior art so that no one else can patent it.

    3. avatar Human Being says:

      You know I really can’t tell if you’re trolling or not. Just in case no: it seems to have gone by you that there is no, and never will be a, patent involved here. The project is called Defense Distributed and the goal is to have plans that anyone can download for themselves and make their own firearms/components with – free of charge.

      Releasing the schematics and construction methods is part of the intent.

      1. avatar Gtfoxy says:


        Once an idea has been published or stated as “open source”, any and all attempts to patent it by another party is prohibited. Releasing such proprietary information at an open public forum is a smart thing to do if you want the item to be viewed as and remain open source.

        Now, as far as invention & engineering go, this is just the begining of what could be obtained. That is what the hoopla is all about. The fact this limited capability “gun” is as set in stone as some day old cup o’ joe. It is entirely up to the minds and thoughts of future fore-thinkers as to where it’s potential can be realized.

    4. avatar ammo-Zombie says:

      suuure more screening…. I am sure groping small children makes us all safer….

  9. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

    Make them follow the chain of command so when this goes south, young Cody does not find his ability to get licensed to practice law impeded. I would demand a detailed written request with Janet Napalitano’s signature on it, and then coordinate from his legal counsel directly with hers. Otherwise, the ATF will hang him out to dry. I would also demand written immunity for him, his partners, the people who own the printers being used, and his company so they don’t retroactively try to prosecute them. And they pay his legal fees.

    and I would charge them an A$$load of cash for this. Sorry – if they are too lazy or inept to manufacture one, than the price is starting at a cool $1M. It is for the children(TM).

    1. avatar Shenandoah says:

      Wise words. I’m interested to know, do you think these activities will be beneficial to his future legal career, or will this stuff make him a pariah in Big Law?

      Of course, maybe his entrepreneurial activities will take off and he won’t have to worry about anybody hiring him…

      1. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

        I am more worried about Cody being able to pass the requisite “Character and Fitness” portion of the bar application. Little things like unpaid parking tickets get people in trouble and/or denied. Now with Big Brother weighing in, I suspect he has a file with the FBI and ATF already. When the state bar asks for info on him, . . . . well, let’s just say I hope he has saved up for the inevitable legal expenses.

        1. avatar Ralph says:

          Dirk, I know people with criminal records who were subsequently admitted to the Bar. You probably do as well. I don’t think that Cody needs to worry about being denied for being a gadfly.

  10. avatar Swarf says:

    I am Swarf’s total lack of surprise that the TSA or it’s lackeys would be too dumb to download the CAD file and print one of the things themselves.

    Fu*k those bull-fondling smurf bastards.

    1. avatar Joke & Dagger says:

      I believe “Molon Labe” is the correct response at this point.

  11. avatar DrewR55 says:

    Saw Cody last night on Lou Dobbs. It was a great interview and Lou was just tickled that this had been done. He was congratulating Cody and calling the achievement very impressive.

  12. avatar Dan says:

    I would be afraid that the moment you built one, they would claim some sort of legal issue and have your entire operation shutdown. Tell them how to get the plans just like everyone else.

  13. avatar Michael B. says:

    While this is interesting, what else did you talk to Cody about? I’m jealous, I’d love to meet him.

    1. avatar Robert Farago says:


      1. avatar Matt in SD says:

        I bet you did….

        1. avatar Aharon says:

          University coeds and Texas bikini models.

  14. avatar Skyler says:

    They’ll just seize it as evidence when they want to.

    1. avatar Sixpack70 says:

      A no knock raid at 3am when he is sleeping. I hope he doesn’t have a dog. If he doesn’t have a dog I am sure the ATF will bring one so they can practice all aspects of a no knock warrant.

      1. avatar Bill F says:

        They could shoot the neighbor’s dog, just in case..

        1. avatar ammo-Zombie says:

          no warrant-less wake up is complete without shooting someones dog….

        2. avatar IdahoPete says:

          Or stomp a kitten to death – that is another way they have of demonstrating their power.

          It may have been an assault kitten.

  15. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    1 million dollars….
    It would go to the fund to defend Cody for the trumped up charge they are planning…
    And if not, a really bitchen mark-up!

  16. avatar Tommy Knocker says:

    Wait a minute….

    Someone sends you an email that asks you to SELL them a gun. Says they are a gov’t contractor. Blah Blah….

    So when I get those emails from Nigeria that say I have inherited a Billion dollars I should believe it??? Because emails always are true?

    Quite honestly you have to have an IQ around single digits to
    1.- believe this email.
    2- respond directly to the sender and negotiate

    Cody should have responded with “contact my attorney”. This clearly is a setup to arrest Cody on any of a thousand Federal or State laws. If this is the way he handles this, I predict he will be in jail by end of year.

    1. avatar Tommy Knocker says:

      Sorry I have add to my post. My head is spinning with worry over this kid. After a lifetime of experience let me warn the whole freaking world…YOU NEVER TALK TO THE GOVERNMENT DIRECTLY. NEVER EVER NEVER. You always use a intermediary such as an attorney, CPA, licensed broker etc. When you do talk directly to them you are making the mistake that you are their equal. You are not. They have legal authority to lie to you, trick you, investigate you, all in furtherance of potential prosecution. Every single exchange will be retained and can be used against you. Sorry but Mr. Wilson really needs to sit down with a savy attorney to get his sh*t together. The big brite gov’t spotlight is on him and he better understand that.

      1. avatar Jeffer says:

        Agreed. This is probably a trap. Don’t give them anything over the internet. Don’t even reply. Make them show up in person and present proper credentials including warrants before obliging their requests/demands, and then shut up and get an attorney. If they can get you to technically break some law by simply asking, then they can undermine your operation without the effort of actually addressing any genuine issues or defense.

      2. avatar Doug says:

        Cody Wilson is about to graduate law school, he can handle himself.

      3. avatar David T says:

        Mr. Wilson is savvy and is on his way to becoming an attorney. If he feels this is the best response, he is in the best position to make that decision as he has been researching and working on this project while maintaining correct legal standing from the begining.

        1. avatar elnonio says:

          He who represents himself has a fool for a client. Not because he doesn’t have the G2 (intel) to handle it; he probably does. Why then? Because his proximity to the issue will inevitably cause him to mis-perceive things, whereas an attorney hired to represent his interest will likely see things Cody doesn’t.

    2. avatar spacecoaster says:

      These were my thoughts as I read the email exchange. It sounds to me like they were trying to set him up. To think for a minute that DHS lacks the budget and geek power to buy a 3-D printer, download the files, and assemble their own weapon is laughable.

      It wouldn’t even have to be able to be fired to allow them to test detection techniques.

      This was an attempt to trick Cody into doing something illegal, manufacturing and selling a firearm without all of the required permits and licenses.

      1. avatar Accur81 says:

        That is what I was thinking as well. Owning the firearm is legal so long as he manufactured it for personal use only. He is not allowed to loan or sell it.

        1. avatar Jim says:

          FYI – DD has an FFL now.

      2. avatar David T says:

        Cody Wilson has all the permits and licenses. He went through great pains to obtain all the permits and licenses before he began to prototype these designs.

    3. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      Yea. I’m sorry, I have to agree. This showed his youth and naiveté’.

      This is where he should quit being a gun guy and start acting like a law student. When a cop asks you a question, even “excuse me, what time is it?” or “which way to the bathroom?,” your response should be nothing. My response, informed by my hobby of reading case law, is now to say “This is not a voluntary encounter. Am I free to go?”

      (This, BTW, results in some highly confused looks from law enforcement, most of whom are woefully ignorant of recent case law. My response to that is: Hey, you decided to be a cop. I didn’t force you into that career.)

      When someone claims to be acting in stead of law enforcement, your response (if any) should be “That’s nice.” Give no information.

      They’ll respond (and they always do) with “But we’re for real and serious!” Again, the response should be: “That’s very nice.”

      Don’t challenge them. Don’t debate them. Don’t argue law with them. Just politely non-respond to them.

      In this situation, I’d have responded: “We have received your email. Due to the volume of our email, we’re not able to respond to individual messages. Thank you for your interest.”

      No confrontation, no actionable response.

      If they don’t try to get him on some wrinkle in gun specs, they’re going to try to get him for failure to collect and pay excise tax on the gun. Most of you who aren’t FFL’s don’t realize that there is a federal excise tax levied when you “manufacture” a gun. For those of you who are interested in the details of the firearms and ammo excise tax, here’s some info:


      With the perniciously stupid legislators in Congress aping their idiocy on TV about this project, he should expect that everything now has a political angle. He’s now a nail that must be hammered down in order for the statists to appear in control.

      1. avatar Accur81 says:

        Geez, there are some of us who just talk to people. I’ll usually ask people about their dogs, babies, kids, rock band stickers, cool cars, etc. with no intent whatsoever into finding a crime. I just happen to like the aforementioned things. Many times I’ll have to excuse myself because someone wants to keep talking when I have a call pending.

        Have you met that many cops who don’t understand the difference between a consensual encounter and a lawful detention?

        But if you didn’t want to talk to me, and weren’t committing a crime, then on your way with you. I guess I can always reply to you on TTAG.

        1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

          See, here’s the problem, A81:

          I don’t get to play a game of “20 Questions with a Random LEO.” Unless they’re previously known to me, I don’t know whether they’re among the Good Guys, the Incompetent Guys or the Guys with a Serious Attitude Problem. I don’t know. They all wear the uniform, carry a gun and a badge. That’s all the a priori information I have.

          From the case law, Florida v. Bostick and Terry v. Ohio, a “consensual encounter” does not afford the citizen Fourth Amendment protections. By talking with a LEO and passing the time of day, I’m giving up my rights.

          So: Am I acting rudely to the good guys? Yes, and that’s unfortunate on a very basic level. But because the law enforcement organizations have not and will not weed out the bad actors from their ranks, I have no better way to protect my rights than to assume the worst and hope for the best on every encounter.

        2. avatar CarlosT says:

          Accur81, you individually may be a nice guy, but the police as a group represent the coercive power of the government. The “force” in law enforcement. While most people comply with laws that make sense because of their own moral instincts, however developed they may be, compliance is ultimately compelled with consequences. And the police are often the ones who begin doling out those consequences.

          That makes small talk with cops a seriously high risk pass time. It may be that he’s just the neighborly type, or it could be he’s trolling for an arrest. The stakes for me are too high to take the chance.

        3. avatar Michael B. says:

          I’d talk with you in person. I talk with a good friend who’s a police officer all the time. But if I don’t know the police officer then I typically don’t talk to them.

          CYA, you know how it is.

      2. avatar EPThorn says:

        “Hey, can you tell em what time it is?”

        You’re an idiot.

        1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

          Go read the court rulings and tell me I’m an idiot.

          Go ahead. I’ll wait.

        2. avatar Totenglocke says:

          Come back after some POS cop has framed you for a crime and then tell us how stupid it is to refuse to cooperate with them.

  17. avatar Adam Z says:

    Since the TSA metal detectors don’t pick up the .40s&w JHP in my leg I doubt they will pick up the firing pin in one of these things (unless recalibrated for extreme sensitivity).

    1. avatar Pro-Liberty says:

      Is the slug in your leg made from a ferrous metal? Probably not. Neither is the large mass of titanium bolted to my skull, which is why it doesn’t set off metal detectors when I go to the airport.

  18. avatar John Boch says:

    Sell him a gun without a license and all that good stuff after you made it yourself?

    Sounds like entrapment to me.

  19. avatar Evan says:

    My gut reaction is just to flat out refuse any sale to the government. If they want the file it’s online, but in no way would I willingly sell something to them.

  20. avatar GMgunsmith says:

    Now that we see a picture of the parts as shown at the top of this page, it wouldn’t be all that hard to fabricate the parts from tempered plastic. The bullet would provide the point of reference for the scale and dimensions of the parts since there are many publications on the internet that publish all of the specs for most bullets.

    As a kid growing up on the farm in Iowa we used to make zip guns for 22 shorts to shoot cans since we couldn’t afford to buy a real gun. With all of the parts of a zip gun broken down and scattered throughout a brief case it could be smuggled onto an airplane quite easily and re-assembled in a few minutes.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      Some people I knew back in The Bronx could make a .22 barrel from a piece of old-fashioned car radio antenna or thin plumbing pipe, and shotgun barrels from 3/4″ galvanized pipe. They worked just fine.

  21. avatar flyboy says:

    I think it was a wise move to tell them that the gun is “not for sale”. In order to sell a gun, you must have an FFL, which I’m not sure if he does or not. Selling the gun could have landed him in hot water over a technicality. Even though the government would be the buyer, the letter of the law says No. Loan the gun, maybe, but sell it, no. Good move.

    1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      He does, a Type 07. So he’s clear on the manufacturing regs.

  22. avatar PK says:

    Why does everyone on this site seem to be overlooking DD’s FFL? Cody Wilson has an 07 FFL.


    1. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

      no one is “overlooking” squat. However, if someone sends you an email and makes a claim that they have authority to do something, doyou comply automatically? First thing I learned out of law school and working at a firm “In God we trust, for all others, we verify”. And given the highly charged atmosphere in DC and the need to “do something”, Cody would be wise to lawyer up and make the feds put everything in writing directly and not thru their flunkies.

    2. avatar louringe3 says:

      OR overlooking the fact he MUST put serial numbers on them in order to sell them

  23. He has an FFL to Manufacture. He has modified the design to include the required amount of ferrous metal to make it compliant to being detected by calibrated magnetometer as required by federal law. Go read the stuff he has put out so far about his efforts and what he has been through to get to this point.

    That said, Tell them to go pound sand that you are not interested in participating in their attempt to entrap you and pass more useless legislation and restrictions.

  24. avatar Aharon says:

    Surely, between the DHS and ATF they have a 3D printer or can “borrow” one along with an employee who can download the free software.

  25. avatar David says:

    This dude is young, white, and doing cool stuff that some how involves the internet. It is about time he get suicided 🙂

  26. avatar Charlie says:

    Tell ’em to go pound sand. If they want one they can make it with their own lily white hands.


  27. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    How nice, they even include a little wrench with the Liberator pistol kit. (Hint: look in the upper right corner of the photo.)

    1. avatar GMgunsmith says:

      It looks more like the hammer.

  28. avatar Bugei says:

    Paging Admiral Akbar. Admiral Akbar to the white courtesy telephone, please.

  29. avatar TheSleeperHasAwakened says:

    If he is as intelligent as he comes across he should fall for their trap by selling them anything. He should allow them to download the CAD file and build one themselves…which is the entire point of this “experiment”.

  30. avatar Jacen says:

    Just send the guy the file and have them make it themselves with their own printers if they are supposed to represent the DHS

  31. avatar TenSpot says:

    It isn’t a firearm if it isn’t operational and without a firing pin (the nail) it won’t work. It’s just a plastic replica of a toy until that is part of it.

    Having said that, he absolutely should not talk to people working for DHS.

    1. avatar louringe3 says:

      I beg to differ An AR-15 lower is a Firearm all by itself

  32. avatar C says:

    Kinda neither here nor there, but Bob Levine SUCKS at professional emails.

  33. avatar Chuck J says:

    I will defer to Admiral Ackbar on this one . . .

  34. avatar EPThorn says:

    I wonder if it came from a hotmail address…

  35. avatar Tom K says:

    You think Obama is going to let this get into the Publics hands? He’ll buy the Patent rights, and lock them in the drawer.. No quality Dictator would let this put guns in the hands of Patriotic Citizens. Like home made energy, it won’t come to market..

  36. avatar LJ says:

    After reading a boatload of comments submitted here I have to ask myself one simple question.
    Have the “Buyers” submitted proper ID for a background check ?

  37. avatar Ralph says:

    The Department of Homeland Insecurity makes the ATF look like choirboys. All the ATF is doing these days is shipping guns to goons down Mexico way and sucker-punching unwary FFLs. Meanwhile, DHS is compiling list of gun owners in Missouri and feeling up little children who try to get on airplanes.

    When it comes to DHS, our motto should be: Don’t deal. Disband.

  38. avatar louringe3 says:

    Ok so he shows it being fired once. How what? Other than showing that it might be done? I can see the idea of doing it and putting it out there but I must ask myself what is the end game? In order to sell it??? he must have ALL the proper licensing and then there is the record keeping. He is looking for money for a start up but what then? How would buy a plastic gun with a questionable life span?

    1. avatar Ed says:

      Um, the Jackal?

  39. avatar SightPicture says:

    He may be a smart young man but his grammar is awful

  40. avatar Ben says:

    My first thought was that DHS is probably trying to find a way to detect these guns at airports, buy one to experiment with, figure out exactly what works and what doesn’t. That or use it as an example to show how ‘extremely dangerous’ it is and how they should all be banned. Uncle Joe’s meddling perhaps?

  41. avatar Glenn Billings says:

    Sure. For a couple MILLION rounds of ammo of the DHS’s secret stashes of my choosing.

  42. avatar Will says:

    Risky propositions offered. Good move on refusing to sell the prototype, especially without a serial number. Let them have a non-functioning one? maybe not. With the given plan for the plans, I’d agree on pointing them to A link to it and the bill of materials. They can be slick as snot with subterfuge if it serves them.

    There’s already arguments on CNET about the piece of metal not being integrated into the design, despite directions to EPOXY it in place, and making it non-detectable by not doing that step. Some on there even thinking it’s illegal just because no serial is on it. Some think it’s good for up to six shots, and some very untrustworthy for even a single shot.

    1. avatar louringe3 says:

      Let them have a non-functioning one? If he GIVES, SELLS, TRANSFER or WHATEVER you call it The receiver IS the firearm.

      1. avatar Will says:

        Hence the “maybe not.”

  43. avatar Veteran Patriot Retired USAF "marksman" says:

    Sorry, folks, First Amendment Right to publish, in the Public Domain, applies to
    Hustler Magazine, Soldier of Fortune Magazine, and to my Plastic Magazines, with

    Meanwhile, a bazillion download torrents, and counting… this government really doesn’t have a clue, nor, intelligence.

    Sad, really, but, in-eptitude due to being a massive thing, run by committee, with meetings to be scheduled in the future. That places the element of surprise in
    the hands of the People!

  44. avatar elnonio says:

    And apparently now “they” are trying to suppress this information using ITAR. I think it will fail but interesting development nonetheless.

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