Defense Distributed, Cody Wilson's controversial startup that aims to create the first fully 3D printed gun, has finally achieved its goal. In a video released over the weekend, Wilson shows off a test firing of the Liberator.
The Liberator doesn't look all that impressive or intimidating, but it's not meant to. It's meant to fire bullets, and the above video demonstrates that it does just that. According to Forbes, the Liberator is made entirely out of ABS plastic except for a nail used as the firing pin. The gun also contains a small stip of steel so as not to run afoul of the Undetectable Firearms Act.
What may have some people concerned, however, is that not every Liberator will include this strip of steel. Wilson has already published the blueprints for the Liberator at Defcad so anybody with a 3D printer can now print a handgun. The Liberator's blueprints also include multiple barrels so the gun can fire different calibers of ammunition.
With that in mind, the Liberator is going to make some people rather uncomfortable. Senators are probably going to draft legislation that's intended to stop the creation of 3D printed weapons, and may even target 3D printers themselves. Even if that did happen, it really wouldn't do anything as the blueprint is now on the Internet. It will be incredibly hard, if not impossible, to keep the Liberator out of 3D printer/gunsmith enthusiasts' hands.
It should be noted that the Liberator in its current form isn't going to start arming every man, woman and child with their own handgun. For starters, the gun is still incredibly fragile. A separate Forbes report that covered the initial firing test says that the gun exploded upon an attempt to fire a rifle cartridge. Even when firing compatible bullets, the gun can only fire one round at a time.
Still, this is a big step forward for Defense Distributed and 3D printing. Something that many, myself included, thought was years away is now here, albeit in a limited form. It will be interesting to see where Wilson and Defense Distributed do next.