Defense Distributed and the spirit of resistance

The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the Atmosphere. — Thomas Jefferson

The American Revolution had been over just three years when a group of Massachusetts farmers rose up against their state government and even tried to attack the (federal) Springfield Armory. Their reasons should have sounded familiar and noble to anybody who’d just lived through the revolt against England: unjust taxes and an unresponsive, corrupt, crony-filled government.

Instead of support and sympathy, however, Shay’s Rebellion was answered with outrage and hard-line crackdowns.

Thomas Jefferson was one of the few former revolutionaries who took the news of the rebellion with aplomb, even approval. While other former rebels (including the formerly rabble-rousing Samuel Adams) were calling for death for the Shaysites, Jefferson wrote the above words to Abigail Adams.


I thought about Jefferson and the Shaysites (and for that matter the Whiskey Rebels) today after reading about Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed. This morning CW and DD announced a new product that authoritarians everywhere will hate and fear: the Ghost Gunner. As Wired puts it:

Wilson’s latest radically libertarian project is a PC-connected milling machine he calls the Ghost Gunner. Like any computer-numerically-controlled (or CNC) mill, the one-foot-cubed black box uses a drill bit mounted on a head that moves in three dimensions to automatically carve digitally-modeled shapes into polymer, wood or aluminum. But this CNC mill, sold by Wilson’s organization known as Defense Distributed for $1,200, is designed to create one object in particular: the component of an AR-15 rifle known as its lower receiver.

Of course, the machine will do much more than that. One thing it will do is upset authoritarian control freaks everywhere. (Its very name is a jaunty answer to anti-gun politicians who’ve tried to create a panic using the term “ghost gun”.)

Wilson and Defense Distributed are leaders of a “rebellion” that never needs to fire a single shot or attack any government facility. Their work isn’t about firearms (though that, too). It’s about declaring “gun control” and the regulatory state obsolete. Without a single act of violence, they’re attacking the foundations of arbitrary authority. They’re attempting (and achieving) more than the Shaysites or Whiskey Rebels ever could have hoped.

Wilson’s goal of enabling anyone to privately fabricate an untraceable gun is part of a larger anarchist mission: To show how technology can render the entire notion of government obsolete. He’s spent the last two years developing firearms designed to be printed as easily as ink on a page, neutering attempts at gun control. “This is a way to jab at the bleeding hearts of these total statists,” Wilson says. “It’s about humiliating the power that wants to humiliate you.”

It’s no wonder that, 18 months ago, DD’s first (plastic), single-shot pistol was called “The Liberator” after the famous World War II resistance weapon. Liberation is Wilson’s real business and rebellion is his work. Neither Liberator was terribly practical, perhaps. Both spoke of huge possibilities.

Nobody should be surprised if federal or state officials crack down on Wilson and Defense Distributed as their forefathers cracked down on the Shaysites and Whiskey Rebels. Authorities can certainly harm Wilson and those who work with him.

But neither this technology nor the freedoms it enables and represents can be put down by brute force — or any other force. This rebellion has already succeeded.


13 thoughts on “Defense Distributed and the spirit of resistance”

  1. At that price I should get one. It’s cheaper than the big snow-blower I need. And a snow-blower will only get me to work whereas the Ghost Gunner might just save my life someday.

  2. Happy to see this blog, Claire. A happy sort of not-surprised. 🙂

    And three cheers for Cody Wilson, all over again. If “the Partisans” haven’t already, you might consider reaching out to see if he’d contribute here. He’d be a natural poster boy, wouldn’t he?

  3. Since this is a mill, there’s a good chance it won’t be made illegal. If they attempt to make this mill illegal, then they’d have to make all other mills illegal. Not even a “licensing scheme” will work, at least not easily.

    The best thing is, the signal really can’t be stopped. You can get plans or info to make homemade mills. And of your own design if you desire. This is one of the best thing to come out of what is known as the Maker movement or community.

    The genie is already out of the bottle.

  4. I assumed this gadget could make a lower receiver out of a billet. According to this piece in Tech Times, it can only finish an 80% lower. There are already much cheaper ways to do that.

    But I like Bob Owens’s take on it at Bearing Arms. Even if the Ghost Gun is mostly hype, it’s still a good thing…

    “If your goal is to terrify and infuriate the agents of an ever-more-intrusive government, however, the Ghost Gunner serves its purpose well, and that is precisely the role of everything produced by Defense Distributed, which exists for the explicit purpose of ticking off all the right people.”

  5. Defense Distributed’s little box is just a publicity stunt.

    It’s easy enough to “machine” an AR lower on your kitchen table with hand tools. Lots of people have done it. Here’s one of several web pages:

    You can use pieces of sheet metal and screws:

    In fact, since the AR receiver is just a bracket for holding things together, it doesn’t have to be a 7075 aluminum forging. It doesn’t even have to be metal.

    Here’s one from, carved from a pine board: (his first version used pieces of plastic kitchen cutting boards)

    Another scratch build, formed and welded steel parts:;f=30;t=11628

    If you have a welder, you can tack together a laser-cut set of interlocking puzzle pieces: used to sell a “pour it yourself” jello mold and two-part plastic kit to make an AR receiver; the ATF shut them down temporarily.

    You already have a CNC mill, like my little Seig X2 that I bought new and added CNC for less than DD’s little hobby-grade CNC router? Just download the CNC code:

    Then, of course, there are the REAL parts you need to assemble the rifle – things the little D-D box is never going to be able to make. The lower on an AR is relevant only because it’s the part the ATF requires the serial number to be on. DD’s box is like carving some new grips for your 1911 with your pocket knife, and then claiming “I built a 1911!”

  6. I think there is everything to be said for “ghost guns”. If anything they are far far more than a physical weapon, they are a profound symbol of liberty, definitely the ultimate act of self determination. They are a middle finger to the fucking clowns crooks and psychopaths running things, the whole lot of them. And that is power.
    As the most infamous megalomaniac and genocidal psychopath of the 20th century said, “all power grows out of the barrel of a gun…”
    – Chairman Mao

    Who understands the existential threat to power armed freemen represent better than the motherfuckers controlling our governments of America? Right down to your local crooked police officer and building inspector.

    What’s not to like about the Ghost Gunner CNC machining center?
    In perspective, I think the simplest answer lies in the counter to this observation below:

    “The Obamunists’ latest assault on our rights. On using federal thuggery of bank regulation to deny firearm industry financial freedom:
    Washington’s “assault weapon” is the regulatory bureaucracy: its de facto power to make law, its swelling cadre of armed enforcers, and Congress’s unwillingness to rein it in. It has targeted the foundation of Americans’ rights: the means we must have to defend them. What, then, must we do? ”

    What must we do?
    That’s easy.
    Make guns.
    Lots of guns.

    A ruling class terrified of an armed citizenry having guns it can not control track or regulate in the hands of it’s “subjects”, is a ruling class that makes egregious miscalculations against the one kind of American you do well not to push till he has no peaceful means of protecting and defending his property family and liberty.

  7. Just what you said right there Ms. Wolfe. A fine and so very worthy act of just resistance to tyranny. Without a shot. (Yet).

    I think the thing you have to consider is resistance to all forms of tyranny is that just resistance to tyrants is upstream from tyranny.
    And nothing says resistance like building your own rifle.
    In particular such a fine weapon as the AR15 platform.
    As one commenter above noted so well, the genie is out of the bottle. There is no putting it back. But what is so awesome about Defense Distributed’s Ghost Gunner CNC black box is it is grass roots. Yet it has the potential to become mainstream resistance. What better than in the age of marvelous technological compactness of the IPhone, than a table top CNC milling center, able to machine a receiver of one of the finest battle rifles presently used worldwide to perfection?
    What is not to admire and like about this veritible middle finger to the bastards? What’s not to like about the act of pure liberty and self determination in building an effective symbol of freedom with your own hands?

    The moment the hoplophobes begin to scream about Ghost Gunner and the growing culture of self produced weapons, when the pogrom of vilification across the airwaves begins, legitimacy of building your own arms in total freedom is assured.
    No matter what the Nomenklaturer proclaims, its fetid hand will forever and a day by way of its incessant meddling and diktat, have provided caveat and credence to the art craft and culture of home built arms. And that’s the thing, culture, right there.
    Culture too is upstream of politics.

  8. Buy one as an investment in liberty. Eventually when the USA has fiat gun control, and guns are being burned in a literal bonfire of the vanities in DC, you can supply needed firearms to the 3% who had theirs confiscated …

  9. There are companies selling kits to add computer numeric control (CNC) to small milling machines, which would then use the control software which Defense Distrubuted (DD) has already released.

    DD’s new machine is, however, the most cost effective I’ve yet seen, about half what a small mill plus the stepper motors for CNC kits.

  10. First, very heartening to read you again & to see this blog.

    To topic, some may already have the tools & experience from previous builds & certainly there may be more efficient ways to accomplish the same thing. However, the lighting of the spark in someone who was on the fence, who may suddenly realize, “hey, I could do this” is a sum greater than the parts. Bottom-line, however your method or tool of choice, get their panties in a twist and TIGHTEN.

    Thanks for sharing & hat-tip the link at WRSA.

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