"How's that national conversation going?" asks Cody Wilson. He's speaking in a video posted on the website he maintains, Distributed Defense, which is devoted to 3-D–printed weapons. In the video, he begins firing a rifle that makes use of a high-capacity magazine, a subject of intense scrutiny since the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting massacre in Newtown, Conn. But the magazine in Wilson's rifle is unlike anything that either gun advocates or opponents are talking about across the nation. Wilson's high-capacity magazine is something he made himself, using a 3-D printer.
"Welcome to the age of the printed magazine," he says.
Even as President Barack Obama issued a host of executive orders today addressing gun control, Wilson is marching ahead with plans to print high-capacity magazines and other weapons and parts. Wilson is already the nation's most visible advocate for 3-D–printed weapons; soon, he says, he may be the nation's first licensed weapons printer. The University of Texas at Austin law student has applied for a federal firearms license with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to print, among other things, the Wiki Weapon, a semi-automatic, "3-D printable personal defense system."
In the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings last month, MakerBot Industries began pulling files with instructions for printing weapons parts from its user database. Wilson immediately established a mirror site—DEFCAD—where he continues to host the files.
The 3-D–printed high-capacity magazines are Wilson's newest innovation. And he could receive a federal license to manufacture them as soon as February, he says.
"We're wrecking this high cap mag ban party Congress is throwing," Wilson says.