3D-printable gun advocate Cody Wilson is planning to release next week the specs for a gun he calls "the Liberator."
The University of Texas law student and founder of the non-profit Defense Distributed tells Forbes he will release the CAD files for the gun, which will allow anyone with access to a 3D printer to print the gun without having to bother with things like a serial number, background check or waiting period.
Wilson printed the 16-piece prototype using a Stratasys Dimension SST printer and ABS plastic. The only non-plastic parts he used are a nail that acts as a firing pin, as well as a six-ounce piece of steel that allows metal detectors to see the firearm -- an inclusion that makes the gun compliant with the Undetectable Firearms Act.
Wilson, who has a federal license to distribute and sell firearms, recently launched a search engine called Defcad, which lets people share 3D printing blueprints for things like gun parts. In a recent interview with TechHive, Wilson admitted that bad guys or terrorists could use 3D printers to print "Saturday Night Specials."
It's a thorny subject amid the gun debate that has raged following the massacre at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school. At the same time, it's technically not illegal to make your own gun, as long as you don't sell it, or let anyone else use it.
Even so, New York Congressman Steve Israel has taken a stand against 3D-printed guns by introducing a bill that would update the Undetectable Firearms Act to cover 3D-printed gun parts.
"When I started talking about the issue of plastic firearms months ago, I was told the idea of a plastic gun is science-fiction. Now that this technology is proven, we need to act now to extend the ban [on] plastic firearms," he wrote in a statement released Friday.
Tinkerers have been playing around with 3D printing for years but mostly only to create useless things like little statues or plastic trinkets. Wilson's efforts have changed the landscape, and the debate.
Wilson doesn't see a moral dilemma in what he is doing.
"We're pursuing what we think is a step toward liberty and even if it scares people, well, that's our world view -- liberty is scary and increasingly there's less and less you can do about controlling the way someone can fabricate a gun," he told TechHive in March.