Maker Of 3-D Printer Guns Now Has Federal Firearms License

Originally published on March 18, 2013 2:45 pm

Defense Distributed, an organization best known for advocating open-sourced 3-D printing of guns, says its founder, Cody Wilson, is now a federally licensed gun manufacturer and dealer.

Wilson sent the application to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in October. According to Ars Technica, the process, which usually can take as little as 60 days, took about six months for Wilson.

Defense Distributed has been creating prototypes of 3-D guns and magazine clips for months. In February, the project released a video displaying the success of a new magazine that holds 30 bullets for an AR-15 rifle. In total the magazine fired 342 bullets, Wired reported. The group fired "227 of those rounds using full automatic fire, while swapping out the barrels on the rifle to keep them cool," Wired said.

This is an improvement compared to previous testing.

Currently, the website states:

"Is giving you a blueprint for a house the same as building that house for you?

"Our project is to test and share .STL [3-D file format] designs through file sharing services like BitTorrent, not to print guns for people. No prototype we print or test will ever be sold or given to another person. And nothing we create as a part of this project is for sale."

But, that doesn't mean selling weapons isn't an option for the future. Wilson recently applied for an "add-on" to the Federal Firearms License, known as a Class 2 Special Occupational Taxpayer (SOT) that would allow Wilson and Defense Distributed to manufacture a broad range of guns.

The federal firearms license allows Wilson to sell and distribute firearms. The license requires dealers to keep a detailed record of all firearms created or sold, according to the ATF website. Ars Technica reports that the SOT add-on would allow the group to start selling guns, which would help offset printing costs.

Maureen Chowdhury is an intern on NPR's National Desk.

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