Nothing grabs headlines like 3D Printed guns or body parts. Cody Wilson, a law student from Texas, drew worldwide headlines for creating the first 3D Printed gun, but more importantly for posting his design and CAD files online. And now Simon and Schuster is betting the media hype will continue and spur sales of Wilson’s story in book form.
The publishing giant has signed a quarter of a million dollar deal for Mr. Wilson’s “Negative Liberty: A Gun Printer’s Guide to the Apocalypse” to be released under their Gallery Books imprint. Through his publisher, Mr. Wilson said the book would be a manifesto for “millennials and radicals” fighting state oppression in the digital age. The book won’t be out until fall of 2015, and in an interview with Forbes he joked, “At least now if I’m in prison I’ll have something to do,” referring to his battle with the U.S. government to take down the gun design files from the internet. In any case, the funds will surely come in handy for his legal defense.
Governments worldwide are trying to implement controls so that terrorists, anarchists, criminals, and ordinary citizens won’t be manufacturing firearms in their homes. It is that very ability for distributed manufacturing that excites Mr. Wilson. He is a founder of Defense Distributed, a non-profit group based in Austin, Texas that hopes to merge extreme libertarian ideology with hacker mentality. While the media would have us believe that 3D Printing in our kitchens is around the corner for everyman, those of us who try to make things every day know it is no small challenge to print a do-dad, let alone a gun. It is getting easier and companies such as 3D Systems are coming out with new home 3D Printers that simplify 3D Printing for the mainstream market. Of course, those machines are not adequate to print guns – yet.
Although Mr. Wilson saw his own challenges in getting a design to actually work, his reason for writing the book seems to be less a DIY guidebook than a philosophical treatise to a new era of personal freedom, brought about by new technologies. He has told Forbes that “he’ll use the opportunity to fully explain his ideological motivations for creating a deadly firearm anyone can download and print in the privacy of their garage.”
Perhaps one day we’ll all have the Star Trek replicator in our homes, but for now it will be interesting to see how the challenges in democratization of manufacturing play out, especially for anarchists and gun control opponents!