Friday, October 14, 2016

New Book Alert

Most of you know of Cody Wilson, the guy who created the Liberator in 2013, the world's first open source gun.  The Liberator and other work in the field has been covered here often.  Defense Distributed, Cody's company, released the Ghost Gunner, a totally open source small CNC machine introduced with the idea of producing open source hardware and software guns.  Like it or not, conventional machining (subtractive manufacturing) with a small metal-cutting mill has an enormous advantage in the materials it can use versus 3D printing (additive manufacturing). The first home-class 3D printer that can print metals like the big boys can will be a global game changer.  Right now, there aren't even any moderate strength alloys available coming out of 3D printers that are priced for the "home user" segment.

I wanted to pass on that Cody has a new book out, "Come and Take It: The Gun Printer's Guide to Thinking Free".  There might have been announcements or a coordinated book buy, but I missed all that.  I caught Cody on Dana Loesch's show on the Blaze, and bought the book Tuesday.  I've only cracked the cover and read the preface, which is on the Amazon page.  An excerpt from that:
...At one of these twilight salons sat Chris Hancock, an old classmate of mine, his tangled black hair brushed from his face. He had brought a friend.

“You remember WikiLeaks!” I insisted to them both. “Do you recall the insurance files?”

“WikiLeaks sends everything they’ve got out to the public in advance. It’s all published and torrented but protected from reading by some long password, right?” Chris answered.

“Exactly,” I said, losing the word on my breath. “And in the event the states move in for some final shutdown, only then do they release the password. The copies were already distributed. The damage sits waiting to be done. Maybe the files had been seeded for months, maybe years. You can’t pull them all down. The threat is credible because everyone has a computer. Every computer is always already on the Internet.”

“Peer-to-peer technology gives you leverage, sure. So, what are you saying?”

“What I’m saying is you can leak more than emails and cables. There are new machines—networked, material printers. They use complex and evolving materials. Into this budding universe of digital production . . . you leak a gun.”

I liked to watch the realization come to people in stages. It had been no different with Chris. Except on this night he made a conceptual leap.

“A Wiki Weapon,” he mused, looking down at the square candle on our table.

And I admit I was a little stunned by the words. Alarmed, even, that the clever coinage was a sign I still didn’t understand the significance of the proposition after these months. They made me jealous too.

Chris’s friend looked at both of us then, his face flushed with the chill of true and unwelcome surprise. And I whispered it:

“We are the heartworms of history.”

The eminent science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke’s Third Law states: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Although 3D printing may seem like magic, it came from very practical beginnings. 

The book goes through the trials Cody has been put through by our anti-freedom government.  The Feds, with their infinite checkbook, have run Cody and Defense Distributed through as much hardship as they could generate, costing him over a million dollars.  The book appears to be an attempt to defray some of those costs.  It details the lengthy battles, invoking ITAR laws to tie their hands behind their backs, and trying to stop them in every way.  I bought the hardback version on the chance that it might be revoked some day and rounding up every copy will be harder than revoking an e-book.  Plus the hard copy has redacted text blacked out, as ordered by the  It adds a certain ... je ne sais quoi ... odor of tyranny to emphasize their actions. 


  1. I'm a bit confused. What is the worth of a hardcopy of the book if parts of it - important, perhaps vital parts - have been redacted. A collector's item, maybe, or a "nanny, nanny" proof of government perfidy (big surprise, right?). The important parts of an ebook - if not redacted - could be saved to a hard drive or printed out, making the information available and useful.

    Does it, or does it not, contain enough information to print/construct a working firearm? If it is simply a history of Cody's struggle, it would be worth reading, but certainly isn't going to have much impact.

    1. When you buy a book unseen, it's a bit hard to know exactly what's in it. My hope was that there would be mechanism to let them know I'm a reader and they would provide more information should it become available. I don't see such a mechanism now.

      I'm in the category of "once bitten, twice shy" about e-books. Almost every book I've bought in years has been an e-book, about 4 or 5:1 Kindle over Apple books. The only book I have that was updated is one of the Apple books. On the other hand, there was a famous incident where Amazon removed Kindle books from everyone's reader. ("Recently Kindle owners who had purchased George Orwell's 1984 or Animal Farm had their books snatched back by Amazon when a rights issue arose. The buyers were credited their $9.99, but such a recall could never have happened with actual books." - NPR)

      In our current headlong drive away from first-amendment free speech, I assume the first books to be banned or burned will be freedom-oriented books. In the initial chapter (all I've read so far) it seems that Cody's motivations were entirely political/anarchist. It wasn't about a commitment to firearms, it was about a political statement about power.

    2. "...motivations were entirely political/anarchist."

      Well, to be honest you could have seen that was coming by the title! ;-)

    3. I know there are several programs available for sale and one that is free for removing the DRM (Digital Rights Management?) tags on ebooks. I don't know if they are effective, or if Kindle, etc. could still yank your books in spite of that. However, I wonder how they could go about removing a book which you have saved on a hard drive that is separate from your computer. I don't know how to do that with Kindle ebooks, but de-DRMed books can be copied to a different device.
      I do have most of my Kindle ebooks on another laptop, along with quite a few books in RTF, epub, and PDF formats.

  2. It's not all that complicated to design a perfectly functioning weapon.
    Books aren't necessary, you just need the mill and some time. When the government starts banning ownership of the tools that might be used to make weapons, it's time to use those weapons on the government and get it replaced.

    That said, the much larger problem is making cartridges. Not the brass part. Not the lead part. Powder and primer is required! Unless you want to go back to black powder – and all that implies – the government will always be able to futz your supply line.

  3. Answer to that is to lay in enough components to produce the quantity of ammunition you think you might need. Then double it ;-) Kept sealed up and cool, primers last for many, many years. I have some thirty year-old primers that still work fine, although I have more recently acquired ones, too. Just reloaded a bunch of snake loads in .44 Mag with Unique smokeless that is 29 years old. I have some WWII 30-06 that still works, too.