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The cultural and legal battle over 3D printed guns hit a new high on Tuesday, the day after a federal judge in Washington blocked Texas-based Defense Distributed from posting blueprints for its 3D-printed guns online.
Cody Wilson, the company’s founder, held a press conference on Tuesday to announce that he’d continue to make the blueprints available.
“I gave them a full day to congratulate themselves, then I held a press conference yesterday and dumped all this stuff on the internet anyway,” said Wilson in a phone interview with The Daily Dot.
Defense Distributed started making 3D-printed blueprints for guns after Wilson learned about WikiLeaks, he said.
“Back in 2011, we saw WikiLeaks, and we knew that what was happening there. And we wondered if there was something like WikiLeaks for guns,” Wilson said.
Wilson has been working on the blueprints since 2013; he’s been embroiled in legal battles since 2015, after the State Department said that posting the blueprints online threatened national security.
Wilson finally settled with the State Department and was granted a license to host the prints online this past July. Attorneys general in Washington, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and 17 other states then sued both Wilson and the State Department, arguing that the State Department’s decision didn’t follow proper protocol.
The case is ongoing; Monday’s ruling simply extended the previous ban, and prevents Wilson from uploading any new files. Now, he’s mailing them out.
Wilson argues that preventing him from posting the blueprints online violates his free speech; he’ll continue with the legal battles “to demonstrate that it’s important political speech,” he said.
“You’ve always been able to make a gun in the United States,” he continued. But 3D-printed guns, which shoot real bullets like regular guns do, are untraceable and undetectable—they’re made of plastic and don’t have serial numbers. And if they’re hosted online, they’re available to anyone with an internet connection, including foreign and domestic terrorists.
Wilson is now selling the blueprints; customers name their own price and pay shipping costs. He estimated that he sold 10 or 11 blueprints during the Daily Dot’s conversation with him.
Even though Wilson is making money—$50,000 so far, by his estimation—he says he won’t hang onto it for long.
“All this cash that I’m getting, I have to immediately spend it on lawyers,” he said.
Wilson said he funded his State Department lawsuit the same way, with earnings from Ghost Gunner, which manufactures guns and gun parts.
Judge Robert S. Lasnik declined to talk to The Daily Dot, citing the ongoing case, but referenced the glut of gun violence currently plaguing the country in his ruling.
“Plaintiffs have a legitimate fear that adding undetectable and untraceable guns to the arsenal of weaponry already available will likely increase the threat of gun violence they and their people experience,” he wrote.
Wilson had already distributed the blueprints for several days before the original July 31 ruling, so an unknown number of people had already downloaded and shared the files by the time Lasnik issued the temporary injunction.
Wilson anticipates more legal battles, but he’s not too worried about them.
“I’ll win again. It’s hard to beat me now that I have a license for it,” he said.
“In the meantime, I’m gonna stack this fucking cash.”
Ellen Ioanes is the FOIA reporter at the Daily Dot, where she covers U.S. politics. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School, and her work has appeared in the Guardian, the Center for Public Integrity, HuffPost India, and more.