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.”

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

    Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

    £60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

    Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

    £28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

    C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

    C# Algo-Developer (BDD/TDD, ASP.NET, JavaScript, RX)

    £45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...

    Day In a Page

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

    ... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
    Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

    Europe's biggest steampunk convention

    Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

    The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
    She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

    Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

    The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
    American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

    Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

    James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
    Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

    Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

    Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

    Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

    Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
    The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

    The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

    If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution