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Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson says he’s selling 3-D printed gun blueprints online

Cody Wilson, director of Defense Distributed, at his library behind the company's factory in Austin on Aug. 5. (Tamir Kalifa for The Washington Post)

Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson announced during a rare media appearance Tuesday that he has begun selling 3-D printable firearms files online.

The unveiled game plan came on the heels of a federal court order blocking the Texas-based company from publishing gun blueprints online. Citing risks to public safety, Judge Robert S. Lasnik of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington granted the injunction Monday.

Although the Seattle court barred Wilson from giving away the files, it offered several alternatives to permissibly transfer the same information.

According to the court’s order: “Files cannot be uploaded to the internet, but they can be emailed, mailed, securely transmitted, or otherwise published within the United States” — all of which Wilson said he intends to do.

“I’m happy to do anything that the judge has permitted,” said Wilson, calling the 25-page order an “authorization” of his operation. “The judge was very gracious to put that in black letter for me.”

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For now, Defense Distributed plans to fulfill orders by shipping USB drives to people in the United States. “That’s the most legal thing for us to do, but of course that’s only ever been our mission as a company,” said Wilson, who is still under a federal injunction.

The order stemmed from a lawsuit filed July 30 by attorneys general from 19 states and the District of Columbia against the State Department, which had agreed to allow Defense Distributed to publish an arsenal of firearms blueprints online in a planned settlement.

But the states’ chief law enforcement officers do not condone Wilson’s newfound strategy.

On Tuesday, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said: “Because of our lawsuit, it is once again illegal to post downloadable gun files to the Internet. 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.”

Lasnik’s injunction aimed at “maintaining the status quo” and preventing mainstream acquisition of the files. Still, Wilson, who has several pending federal and state lawsuits and plans to challenge Lasnik’s order, has pledged to give Americans the right to access the files.

“In no way has the order prevented the states from the harm they describe in their briefings. The only thing [the states] have done is limit the First Amendment and further undermine the law,” he said.

For years Wilson sold, and still sells, software for Ghost Gunner, a PC-connected milling machine. For 3-D printed design files, however, he has been committed to making them freely available in the public domain. Now, he said, he will charge for the files, at a price to be determined by each consumer.

Wilson also encouraged the public to participate in his continued efforts at digitization, inviting others to join the third-party marketplace, sell their own files and share in 50 percent of profits.

“I regret that the attorneys general had to drive this into a commercial space,” Wilson said, adding that the company has always been prepared to go there. “I’m happy to become the iTunes of downloadable guns, if I can’t be the Napster.”

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