Blocked from giving away 3D-printed gun blueprints, Texas man says he's selling them instead

Austin "crypto-anarchist" Cody Wilson says buyers can name their price for 3D-printed gun blueprints.

Cody Wilson, whose Defense Distributed is selling blueprints for 3D-printed guns, in his company's Austin headquarters.

An Austin resident and self-described “crypto-anarchist” said Tuesday he’ll begin selling blueprints that would allow users to 3D print their own plastic guns — a day after a federal judge extended a temporary block preventing him from making the plans available on the web for free.

In other words: If he can’t be the “Napster” of crypto-guns, he’ll be the “iTunes,” Wilson told reporters at a press conference Tuesday in Austin.

The decision could put Wilson, currently at the center of a slew of court disputes across the country, on shaky legal footing.

Wilson has argued in court that preventing him from publishing the blueprints infringes on his First Amendment rights. But Monday’s injunction said the potential harms to Wilson’s First Amendment rights “are dwarfed by the irreparable harms the States are likely to suffer” if he was permitted to post the blueprints for free. Nearly two dozen states that lined up against Wilson in court have said the untraceable plastic guns made using the blueprints would pose an enormous security risk.

Wilson’s right to disseminate the plans “is currently abridged, but it has not been abrogated,” U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik wrote in the Monday injunction.

Wilson called the injunction “hysterical,” saying that the order allows his company to sell the designs and distribute them to customers through the mail, over email and with secure downloadable links. No judge can prevent the plans from spreading, he said.

About 30 minutes into the press conference, Wilson glanced down at his phone: “I’ve gotten 392 orders since this press conference began,” he announced.

Josh Blackman, Wilson’s lawyer, said in an interview Tuesday that selling the blueprints directly to people within the United States is perfectly legal.

“It’s not about distribution, it’s about posting them,” Blackman said. “There’s no prohibition on distributing these files — the prohibition is on doing it in a way that foreign persons can access.”

Still, it’s possible that the decision to sell the blueprints could spark a new legal challenge.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who is leading a 19-state challenge to Wilson, reiterated Tuesday that Wilson is not permitted to post plans online for free but did not comment on the plans to sell them.

“Because of our lawsuit, it is once again illegal to post downloadable gun files to the internet,” Ferguson said. “I trust the federal government will hold Cody Wilson, a self-described 'crypto-anarchist,' accountable to that law. If they don't, President Trump will be responsible for anyone who is hurt or killed as a result of these weapons.”

Wilson’s organization, Defense Distributed, is allowing customers to set their own price for any of 10 gun designs posted on his website. Wilson said he would even fulfill orders that name a price of $0.

Wilson’s legal woes stretch back to 2013, when he posted blueprints for the 3D gun. The State Department ordered him to stop, arguing he was illegally exporting sensitive arms technology. Wilson sued in 2015, and Defense Distributed reached a settlement with the State Department earlier this summer, seemingly clearing the way for him to begin posting the designs online. But he was stalled by a flurry of lawsuits across the country.

At the press conference, Wilson refused to answer a question about the potential for foreign nationals to access the plans.

Despite the legal obstacles, Wilson was adamant that the plans for the guns will ultimately spread — nothing can stop that, he insisted.

“I didn’t get stopped yesterday, so who did?” Wilson said.