Printed gunsDespite His Criminal Record, Cody Wilson Is Back in the 3D-Printed Gun Business

By Alain Stephens and Andrew Weber

Published 12 December 2019

After an international manhunt, Wilson pleaded guilty to a felony in Texas court. But the particulars of his deal left him in a legal gray area that allows him to own and work with firearms.

Cody Wilson, the self-described anarchist and figurehead of the 3D-printed gun movement, led investigators on an international manhunt last year before being arrested and charged with having sex with a minor. In August, he struck a deal with Travis County prosecutors, pleading guilty to a lesser charge of injury to a child, which is a felony.

He received seven years of probation and is now a registered sex offender, banned from being within 500 feet of playgrounds, schools, and any other “child safety zone.” He can no longer carry a handgun in public, and under federal law he is barred from buying and selling weapons at gun stores.

Despite that, Wilson says he is getting back to the business of 3D-printed guns. According to interviews with state and federal authorities, there’s nothing standing in his way.

Wilson’s return coincides with the upcoming release of the Ghost Gunner 3, the latest iteration of a controversial gun-manufacturing machine produced by Defense Distributed, the company Wilson founded in 2012. The product is advertised to be bigger and faster, and its promoters boast that it can produce parts for AK-47 rifles. The machine is the latest product to capitalize on the growing trend of homemade weapons, which can be acquired without a background check. 

Right after his arrest, Wilson announced he would step down as Defense Distributed’s CEO. Late last month, he told the Washington Free Beacon that his criminal history isn’t enough for anyone to stop him from returning to work. He said he is “definitely not a prohibited person” in Travis County, which has faced criticism for its lax approach to sexual assault prosecutions. For Wilson, this means he can own guns and even run a business that sells guns — despite admitting guilt to a felony. 

Wilson confirmed that’s how he views his status, saying it’s consistent with what his probation officer told him. He declined to offer further comment.