Owner of Texas 3D gun company resigns after arrest

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — An activist who garnered national attention for running a Texas company that sells blueprints for making untraceable 3D-printed guns has resigned from the firm he founded after being arrested on charges of having sex with an underage girl.

Cody Wilson tendered his resignation Friday evening to tend to “personal matters,” Paloma Heindorff, director of development for Austin-based Defense Distributed said at a Tuesday news conference. The company is at the center of a federal case in which several states sued to block it from posting plans to build 3D-printed guns online.

Heindroff said she would be taking over Wilson’s duties as director and was a strong believer in the Second Amendment.

“We believe people have a right to have these files,” she said of plans for printing guns. “We believe in our right to be able to publish them.”

Wilson didn’t attend the press conference, and Heindroff refused to comment on the criminal charges against him. But said she supported his decision to leave, adding: “Going forward, as it stands, he has no role in the company.”

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia had sued the Trump administration to dissolve a settlement it reached with Defense Distributed over allowing it to disseminate its designs for making a 3D-printable gun. The lawsuit was backed mostly by Democratic state attorneys general argued that such weapons could be used by criminals or terrorists.

A federal court in Seattle barred Wilson from posting the designs online for free last month. Instead, Wilson began selling them for any amount of money to U.S. customers through his website.

Heindroff said the company has had about 3,000 orders so far for blueprints and was still in the process of fulfilling those orders.

“No one missed a day at work,” she said. “We’re still shipping and we have no intention of stopping.”

Investigators allege the 30-year-old Wilson met a 16-year-old girl through the website SugarDaddyMeet.com. According to an affidavit, the girl said they met in the parking lot of an Austin coffee shop in August and then drove to a hotel.

The girl told investigators that Wilson paid her $500 after they had sex and then dropped her off at a Whataburger restaurant.

Wilson was arrested in Taiwan and brought back to the U.S. over the weekend. He has since been freed on $150,000 bond.

“We are glad that Cody is back in Texas again where we can work with him on his case. That’s our focus right now,” Wilson’s attorney, Samy Khalil, said in a statement Sunday night.

Wilson, a self-described “crypto-anarchist,” has said “governments should live in fear of their citizenry.”

But law enforcement officials worry the guns are easy to conceal and are untraceable because there is no requirement for the firearms to have serial numbers. Gun industry experts have said the printed guns are a modern method of legally assembling a firearm at home without serial numbers.

Heindroff said the company has used online fundraising to collect about $400,000 for a legal defense fund as part of their ongoing federal case. But she also suggested she may not embrace such a high profile national role in it as Wilson did.

“I’m a different person, I’m not trying to replace him as a character,” Heindroff said.

The Washington-based Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which has been a vocal opponent of 3D-printable guns, said of Wilson: “We doubt that his movement will die with his resignation.”

“Because of his actions, 3D-printed guns now pose a danger all over the world,” Brady Campaign co-presidents Avery Gardiner and Kris Brown said in a statement Tuesday. “The next Cody Wilson is merely waiting in the wings, and we will continue to do everything in our power to combat this threat until it is no more.”

(Copyright (c) 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)