Leading equipment can be a dangerous proposition, especially when you’re doing something controversial with it:
Cody Wilson planned in the coming weeks to make and test a 3-D printed pistol. Now those plans have been put on hold as desktop-manufacturing company Stratasys pulled the lease on a printer rented out for Wiki Weapon, the internet project lead by Wilson and dedicated to sharing open-source blueprints for 3-D printed guns. Stratasys even sent a team to seize the printer from Wilson’s home.
“They came for it straight up,” Cody Wilson, director of Defense Distributed, the online collective that oversees the Wiki project, tells Danger Room. “I didn’t even have it out of the box.” Wilson, who is a second-year law student at the University of Texas at Austin, had leased the printer earlier in September after his group raised $20,000 online. As well as using the funds to build a pistol, the Wiki Weapon project aimed to eventually provide a platform for anyone to share 3-D weapons schematics online. Eventually, the group hoped, anyone could download the open source blueprints and build weapons at home.
Stratasys is simply trying to delay the inevitable. Gun control is impossible because guns are mechanically simple devices that can be manufactured with little in the way of tooling. 3D printers could revolutionize the speed in which an individual can manufacture their own firearm but some companies are scrambling to put the genie back in the bottle.
If we’re going to make firearms with 3D printers we must relay on printers that are owned outright. If we rely on leased equipment we’ll face the equipment owners pulling the lease after a minimal amount of pressure from gun control advocates.