With help from the Second Amendment Foundation, Defense Distributed and Cody Wilson are back. Wilson first made waves in 2012 when he launched Defense Distributed, a repository for 3D-printed gun designs.
The Department of Defense, under President Barack Obama, shut down Defense Distributed in 2013 for allegedly violating export restrictions. Wired magazine repeatedly called Wilson one of the “Most Dangerous” people alive.
Wilson fought back in court and won. This is a major First and Second Amendment victory, for both gun ownership and free speech.
“Not only is this a First Amendment victory for free speech, it also is a devastating blow to the gun prohibition lobby,” said SAF founder and Alan Gottlieb. “For years, anti-gunners have contended that modern semi-automatic sport-utility rifles are so-called ‘weapons of war,’ and with this settlement, the government has acknowledged they are nothing of the sort.”
Under this settlement, the government will draft amendments that eliminate ITAR control over technical data that is central to this case. They will shift jurisdiction to the Commerce Department and allow Defense Distributed to publish 3D-printer blueprints.
“All credit due to Matthew Goldstein, Alan Gura and Josh Blackman,” Wilson told GunsAmerica.com. “The era of the downloadable gun has formally begun. If you want more, become a member of Defense Distributed at defdist.org.”
Defense Distributed will resume sharing files for printing firearms and firearm components. Most of these, especially the “dangerous” parts, are public domain or free-to-license designs. If they weren’t part of Defense Distributed, they would have flown under the radar completely.
— Cody R. Wilson (@Radomysisky) July 10, 2018
More importantly, the ruling helps classify guns in general. “Significantly, the government expressly acknowledges that non-automatic firearms up to .50-caliber – including modern semi-auto sporting rifles such as the popular AR-15 and similar firearms – are not inherently military,” stated the SAF.
Until Defense Distributed was challenged under the Obama administration, sharing this kind of gunsmithing information was totally free. The move to censor Defense Distributed was part of a larger push for larger, nation-wide gun control.
Even though the Trump Presidency is much more gun-friendly, it’s clear that the court sees this as a free speech issue just as much as it’s about gun ownership. Sharing blueprints, even 3D-printer-ready plans, of commonly-available guns is not a crime, even if they’re new and original.
It doesn’t matter even if they’re illegal to produce in the U.S. While the bulk of these 3D-printed guns comply with federal law, it’s possible for builders to make guns that break the rules. If that’s the case, then the onus is on the builder, not Defense Distributed. They’re just there to make the knowledge available.