Arkansan Inventor of 3D Printed Gun causing International Controversy

CABOT (KATV) - An Arkansan from Cabot is causing international controversy as the brains behind the 3D printed gun.

Cody Wilson is 25 year-old graduate of UCA, who went from being named student government president and liberal arts student of the year to being named one of the 15 most dangerous people in the world by Wired magazine last year.

3D printing has been slowly gaining household recognition for years. A 3D printer is a device that forms plastic objects from the ground up. Working somewhat like a hot glue gun, creating anything it has the blueprint for. In the future it could be a common household appliance that prints anything: a tool, toy, a missing button.

Wilson set out to create a 3D printed gun that could be entirely made from plastic. His goal was to release a gun into the Internet that could not be regulated or stopped.

"What we've done is explode the entire paradigm by saying look now it's out there, anyone can have it. It isn't given stewardship and by that, there's no central point of failure or compromise or pollution. It's sort of liberalized or liberated," Wilson said.

And that's exactly what the gun is called: the liberator.

Wilson's organization Defense Distributed released the plans online via their web site. Plans for the liberator were downloaded hundreds of thousands of times before the U.S. Department of State asked that Defense Distributed take them down.

"So yeah, I had to take them down from my site. They got me quickly, but not quickly enough," Wilson said.

Not quick enough because the plans were also uploaded to international file sharing sites like Pirate Bay and were downloaded more than a million times.

The U.S. Department of state sent Defense Distributed a letter saying that the department was reviewing if the organization had violated foreign arms trade regulations. ITAR regulations require technical defense data exports receive authorization from the State Department first.

"We sought to kind of reproduce that, psychological, you could call it terror. By saying in a sense, we have a released a gun into the Internet. This gun is now available to anyone in the world at anytime, whether they're on our side or not," Wilson said.

Violating these regulations could land Wilson in prison, facing fines or both.

Officials at the U.S. Department of State told Channel 7 News:

"The U.S. government views the export of defense articles and defense services as an integral part of safeguarding U.S. national security and furthering U.S. foreign policy objectives. The United States is cognizant of the potentially adverse consequences of indiscriminate arms transfers and, therefore, strictly regulates exports of defense items and technologies to protect its national interests and those interests in peace and security of the broader international community."

Wilson and Defense Distributed are awaiting review from the department and could possibly pursue legal action against the government for prior restraint. Wilson believes his actions fall under constitutional rights.

"What we did as a speech act, as a template of thought and even the legal prescience that might come of it, they have so much more gravity than what might happen to me," Wilson said.