Meet the 'Crypto Anarchist' Who Wants Everyone to Print Their Own Guns

A fascinating documentary looks at how the Internet and 3D printing complicate the gun control debate.

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Just because you have the ability to 3D print guns, doesn't, of course, mean that you have to. But -- law of large numbers -- somebody is going to. And that somebody isn't just going to print their own guns, but they're going to make it their cause, and devote their time and energy to making sure other people can too. That person, in America today, is 25-year-old Cody R. Wilson.

Motherboard's excellent documentary, above, has given us a deep dive into the mind of this person -- his political beliefs, his hopes, the ideologies he seeks to undo. What you see is someone who is deeply engaged in the ideas behind his project; someone who isn't just making, but who sees his creations as political acts, as arguments. He directly says: "We're trying to prove a point."

"The only things recognized and promulgated in this culture are the kinds irreversible things -- progress, growth," he explains in the video. "To have a symbolic gift like the printable gun, does so much ideological damage and violence to these ideas. You hear these progressives talk all the time about the wrong side of history, like, somehow we're going to get to some result, and it's all going to be whole and good. And we say no, here's an element of reversibility and there's nothing you can do about it."

But guns, after all, aren't just political statements, an exercise in freedom. Eventually -- law of large numbers again -- somebody out there is going to take one of these computer files and print something that they use to end somebody's life. What, I want to know, does Wilson think about that? Either those quotes lie on Motherboard's digital equivalent of a cutting-room floor, or that's just not something Wilson has thought very much about.

"3D Printed Guns" was produce by Erin Lee Carr for Motherboard. For more videos, visit http://motherboard.vice.com/.

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Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

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