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Liberator / 3D-Printed Gun

Added 10 years ago by amanda b. • Updated 4 months ago by 3kole5
Added 10 years ago by amanda b. • Updated 4 months ago by 3kole5

Liberator / 3D-Printed Gun
Liberator / 3D-Printed Gun

Category: Event Status: confirmed Year: 2012 Origin: Defense Distributed Region:
Type: Controversy
Tags: gun cody wilson defcad defense distributed


Liberator is the name of the 3D-printed gun designed by Defense Distributed’s open source printing project DEFCAD. After the blueprints were made available online on May 5th, 2013, they were downloaded more than 100,000 times within four days. On May 9th, 2013, the US Department of Defense Trade Controls requested the files be removed from the site.


On June 4th, 2012, 24-year-old University of Texas law student Cody Wilson founded the organization Defense Distributed[1] with the intent to create a completely 3D-printed, open source gun, which was inspired by gunsmith Michael Guslick’s partially printed rifle.[6] The staff launched the official website that July and released a video (shown below) detailing their ideas to create a “wiki weapon” that would be accessible to anyone.

Notable Developments

Indiegogo Campaign

In August, Defense Distributed launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in order to raise $20,000 for equipments and supplies, including a Stratasys 3D printer and enough plastic filament to built and test several iterations of the firearm. The campaign lasted for 22 days and raised nearly $2,000 dollars before Indiegogo took the page down down, claiming a violation of their terms of service which state that campaigns cannot be used for activities relating to the sales of firearms or certain firearm parts and accessories.[2] After their fundraiser was shuttered on August 27th, they switched to accepting donations via PayPal and Bitcoin through their homepage[3], raising more than $20,000 by September 20th, 2012.[4]

Ff The Wiki Weapon Project Created by: Location: Austin, Texas, United States Category: Design Help develop and spread a CAD file for a 3D printable plastic firearm! Fight for the civil right of self-defense supported by the free Internet! HE WIKI WEAPO Campaign Home Updates/2 Comments/10 Funders/17 Gallery /4 The Wiki Weapon More info $1,708 Raised of $20,000 Goal 0 days left Flexible Funding campaign This campaign will receive all of the funds contributed by Mon Sep 10 at 11:59PM PT. CONTRIBUTE NOW

Printer Seized

That September, Wilson leased a 3D printer from Stratasys to begin testing their prototypes. Less than a week after receiving the $15,900 uPrintSE, Wilson received an email from Stratasys' lawyers stating that they wanted the printer returned. Despite the plea that it would not break federal arms-manufacturing laws, the lease was cancelled and contractors came to Wilson's home to seize the printer (shown below).[7] Following this, Wilson consulted with a field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who noted that he needed to get a license to manufacture a weapon. By late October 2012, two unnamed companies in Texas offered Defense Distributed safe spaces to work on their designs in secret.[8]

Launch of DEFCAD

In early December 2012, members of Defense Distributed uploaded a video (shown below) demonstrating a partially 3D printed AR-15 rifle[5] based on Guslick's previous design that broke apart after six shots. On December 19th, 2012, Makerbot Industries decided to pull Guslick's design from their blueprint repository Thingiverse in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Schooling. Additionally, Makerbot altered Thingiverse's Trrms of Service to disallow the sharing of objects that "contribute to the creation of weapons."[9]

In response to this, Defense Distributed launched[10], a repository dedicated to hosting any file that Thingiverse would censor. Prior to a takedown in May 2013, DEFCAD hosted blueprints for dozens of
weapon related objects including grenades, rifle pieces, silencers, pistol pieces and ammunition cartridges.

Ammo Firearms NEW125mm BK-14M high-explosive anti-tank warhead se . Defense Distributed Liberator pis 12 gauge flare pistol .22 compact pistol 22 electric 22 single shot .Auditor wrist gun 125mm Bm15 APFSDS round NE .22LR assembly .223 round .357 Magnum cartridge Ne 375 H&H casing 44 Magnum casing Practice gun .44 special lead cavity bullet mold N 5.56 NATO 50 BMG casing 5.7x28mm casing 7.62x39 Lapua casing Grenades . Basic grenade F-1 Russian · 3x18 Makarov round Neu · 3x19 casing Accurate cartridges Neu

Blueprints Released

On May 3rd, 2013, Defense Distributed shared photos[11] of his first prototype printed gun, known as the Liberator, possibly inspired by a World War II-era pistol[12] of the same name. The weapon was made nearly entirely from 3D printed parts, with the exception of a nail used as a firing pin and a six ounce piece of steel to make it perceivable by metal detectors.

Two days later, Defense Distributed uploaded a video (shown below) of its test firing. Within 48 hours, the blueprints were downloaded more than 100,000 times.[13] The files were also reshared on The Pirate Bay, where it immediately was one of the most popular 3D printing files.

Department of State Takedown

On May 9th, 2013, less than a week after the Liberator went online, Cody Wilson received a request from the United States Department of State (shown below), asking him to remove the Liberator blueprints from DEFCAD so they could be reviewed by the department.[14] Though Wilson complied and took the files down, there were at least three separate torrents for the Liberator available on The Pirate Bay[15] as of 8:45 p.m. (ET) that evening. Meanwhile, DEFCAD put up a red banner announcing that their files had been removed from public viewing after the US government claimed control of the information.


On July 10th, 2018, Wired[16] reported that the Department of Justice offered Wilson a settlement to end his lawsuit against the U.S. government for preventing the distribution of firearms files. Additionally, the article revealed that Wilson plans to relaunch DEFCAD by the end of the month with additional firearm blueprints collected over the last several years. That day, Wired released a video about the story (shown below).

Meanwhile, posts about the settlement reached the frontpage of /r/Anarcho_Capitalism,[17] /r/GoldandBlack[18] and /r/guns.[19] On July 18th, Wilson appeared as a guest on the podcast Your Welcome With Michael Malice, during which he discussed the recent settlement (shown below).

Donald Trump's Tweet

On July 31st, 2018, Donald Trump tweeted that he was "looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public" after speaking with the National Rifle Association (shown below). Within 48 hours, the tweet gained over 50,300 likes and 10,100 retweets.[20]

Donald J. Trump e @realDonaldTrump I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to NRA, doesn't seem to make much sense!

Temporary Block

On July 29th, 2018, the office of Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro published a press released claiming that Defense Distributed already began distributing files, claiming that 1,000 people "downloaded 3D plans for AR-15 semi-automatic rifles."[22] On July 31st, Wilson tweeted that was "going dark" due to a block ordered by a Washington State federal judge (shown below).[21]

Cody R. Wilson @Radomysisky By order of a federal judge in the Western District of Washington, is going dark

The following day, CBS News released an interview with Wilson, who revealed he would take the case to the Supreme Court if necessary (shown below).

"What's going to make me comfortable… is when people stop coming into this office and acting like there's a debate about it. The debate is over. The guns are downloadable. The files are in the public domain. You cannot take them back. You can adjust your politics to this reality. You will not ask me to adjust mine."

Sexual Assault of a Minor Charge

On September 19th, 2018, the local TV news station KVUE reported that Wilson had been charged with sexual assault of a minor. Though the age of the victim was not specified, she was described as being under the age of 17.[23]

According to court documents, Wilson allegedly met the victim through the website Additionally, various messages from the site from a user named Sanjuro identified himself as Wilson and said he was a "big deal." After meeting near a coffee shop in Austin, Texas, the victim claims the two went to the Archer Hotel where Wilson allegedly assaulted her and paid her $500.

Search Interest

External References

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