3D gun proponent illustrates problem
Former Austin resident Cody Wilson is showing why his support for 3D guns is unjustified. Wilson has apparently fled to Taiwan to avoid prosecution for charges that he had sex with a 16-year-old girl. If he is convicted, he would be a perfect example of the kind of person who might produce a 3D gun because he couldn’t buy one legally.
Wilson’s recent court battles over 3D guns have centered over his lofty claims that he should have the freedom of expression to sell (or give away) plans for 3D guns over the internet. His case is stalled for now — and won’t get any better with developments like this — but it shouldn’t distract anyone from the obvious dangers of 3D guns that could be produced by anyone, anywhere.
They lack a serial number and therefore can’t be traced. They’re made of plastic and thus could elude metal-detectors at courtrooms or airports. Right now they’re not very effective and usually fall apart after firing a few rounds. But they can still kill someone or be used to seize a hostage or hijack an airplane. Over time, they’ll probably get more reliable just like so many other prototypes.
Yes, the internet is a wild and woolly place, and someone probably could find plans for printing a 3D gun somewhere. But that doesn’t mean authorities in this country should make it any easier for them. After all, you can probably find plans for making an improvised explosive device, the kind that have killed and wounded so many of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, somewhere on the internet. But does anyone think we need more bombs in this country, or anywhere?
This really isn’t a threat to legal gun owners, either. Even the most zealous defenders of gun rights concede that firearms shouldn’t be possessed by some categories of criminals or those suffering from certain kinds of mental illness. Anyone of any age with a 3D printer can circumvent those logical guidelines. That’s not going to make America safer. If 3D guns proliferate, it will be only a matter of time until one is used to commit a terrible crime by someone who couldn’t have purchased or owned a traditional gun.
Instead of waiting for that to happen — or encouraging it through unrestricted internet distribution — state and federal officials should do all they can to prevent the spread of 3D guns.
If Cody Wilson can be exonerated of the charges facing him, he could return to Austin and resume his legal battle to distribute plans for 3D guns. We still hope he doesn’t succeed. Some people just shouldn’t have guns. Ironically, Wilson himself is showing why.