Cody Wilson created a gun that can be downloaded and built with a 3D printer - is he too dangerous for Britain?

The extreme libertarian is coming to London challenge the global financial system

He speaks of liberty, freedom and helping society’s marginalised. His dedication to civil liberties has brought him a loyal band of followers. Now Cody Wilson, scourge of the campaign to control the proliferation of arms, is coming to London with a new mission: to challenge the global financial system.

Mr Wilson, 25 – named by Wired magazine as one of the world’s 15 most dangerous people after he created a gun that can be downloaded and built with a 3D printer – is promoting a crypto-currency that would operate outside of government control.

Driven by an extreme libertarian philosophy, the Texan has already achieved notoriety with his vision of putting a gun in the hands of anyone who wants one – and who has a few hundred pounds. The online blueprint for his handgun – the Liberator – has been downloaded 100,000 times since it was released in May.

Senior police sources have warned that the gun is one of the biggest threats they face as they try to cut firearms crime in Britain. The US Government embarked on legal action to prevent his organisation – Defense Distributed – from continuing to disseminate the designs.

Calls for stricter gun control laws in Britain followed the a series of raids in Manchester last month that netted what police believed to be the country’s first 3D-printed gun parts. Though it was later confirmed that the parts were not from a 3D gun, a man arrested remains on bail until January.

Mr Wilson yesterday laughed off his position at No 14 on the Wired list (below Bashar al-Assad but above Paula Broadwell, whose relationship with General David Petraeus ended the career of the director of the CIA), saying that his philosophy placed individual liberty above attempts at gun control.

“Do the interests in protecting liberties overcome the fact that bad things may happen? It’s a simple calculus: for me it’s worth it.”

Mr Wilson described the Liberator as “the gift that keeps on giving”. Despite his current legal battle with the US State Department, he remains unconcerned about its implications. “We can’t disseminate the files directly, so I haven’t – but it’s all over the internet anyway, so it’s not an issue.” While the wrangling continues, he has embarked on a new project linked to the cyber currency Bitcoin.

Created in 2009 by activists sceptical of the international monetary system, Bitcoin is not tied to any national currency and its value is dependent on online exchanges. Mr Wilson sees it as a “permanent gadfly on the current financial superstructure” and describes its use as “financial freedom of speech”.

Bitcoin has been used as the primary currency in some criminal networks – most notably the Silk Road, an online marketplace for the sale of drugs, forged papers and pornography. It was shut down last month and its alleged founder, Ross Ulbricht – a 29-year-old former physics and engineering student from Austin, Texas – was arrested after agents infiltrated the network that operated on a secret sublayer of the internet.

Despite concerns that it is used for money laundering and drug dealing, Bitcoin has been championed by a growing number of US financial institutions and entrepreneurs, including Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, the twins best known for their long legal dispute with Mark Zuckerberg over the genesis of Facebook.

Mr Wilson is a self-confessed advocate from the “anarchist” wing of the bitcoin movement who is critical of those who have sought to temper the radical philosophy of the currency’s founders. While the venture capitalists downplay Bitcoin’s illicit links, Mr Wilson has been an unabashed supporter of the market forces that drove the Silk Road. Although the site is gone, Mr Wilson said bitcoin would spawn “1,000 more” Silk Roads in its place.

“It’s relatively anonymous, but not completely anonymous like cash. Most deals, for drugs and arms, are still done in cash,” he said. “I want Bitcoin to be completely untaintable. People talk of Silk Road, child porn, trafficking and ask what do you say? Well the biggest money launderers are Standard Chartered and HSBC they have the institutional veil of respectability.”

Mr Wilson has benefited from the concern about state-sponsored snooping raised by Edward Snowden to crowd-source funds for his latest scheme. The Dark Wallet project is an attempt to use anonymity and encryption – which he describes as the few remaining tools available to the “dwindling garrisons of liberty” – to add layers of financial secrecy to bitcoin deals at the same time as the US authorities try to regulate the use of the currency, of which there is thought to be more than $4bn in circulation. “Bitcoin is what they fear it is,” said Mr Wilson darkly.

Mr Wilson is one of the guest speakers at a bitcoin conference next weekend in London, where he is considered a revolutionary innovator rather than a dangerous radical who threatens to bring US-style gun crime to Britain.

Paul Goggins, the Labour MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East where the suspected 3D gun components were found, said that his philosophy should be ignored. “The development of this [3D gun] technology is very worrying,” he said. “It’s worrying that it could fall into the hands of the wrong people who could do harm. I shan’t be paying any attention and I would advise any person with any sense to ignore him.”

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

    £18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Day In a Page

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own