The activist groups Second Amendment Foundation and Defense Distributed have filed a federal lawsuit against New Jersey and Los Angeles officials after they threatened to stop a proposal to post online 3D printer plans for guns.
The issue isn’t new. The Department of Justice and Defense Distributed already has settled a case in which the DOJ objected to the online sharing of 3D firearms plans.
The settlement of that lawsuit would allow Defense Distributed to post its computer files online.
However, prior to the Aug. 1 effective date for the resolution, other governmental units launched their own lawsuits.
The new compliant, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in Austin, names both the New Jersey attorney general and the Los Angeles city attorney.
They are accused of unconstitutional prior restraint.
They effectively want to overturn the DOJ’s settlement with the compay.
“Both New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and L.A. City Attorney Michael Feuer sent letters threatening legal actions that the plaintiffs allege violate their First Amendment speech rights,” said the foundation.
The claims are contained in the court documents.
The previous case, between the DOJ and the Texas company, had ended with an agreement that allows the company to post its 3D printing information online as of Aug. 1.
“What Grewal and Feuer are attempting is an unconstitutional exercise of prior restraint,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “They are trying to prevent Defense Distributed and its founder, Cody Wilson, from exercising free speech under color of law.”
Wilson added: “We have the right to publish this information, and now the New Jersey attorney general and Los Angeles city attorney can pay for it.”
The settlement was announced earlier this month, and Wilson has initiated the steps to post the information online.
But Grewal and Feuer both warned by letter that they would take action. Feuer also tweeted threats of legal action, the complaint notes.
“This is quickly turning into a classic First Amendment case,” Gottlieb observed. “People publish all sorts of information online, but because this case involves technical information on production of firearm components on a 3D printer, these anti-rights officials are trying to squelch it. We cannot allow this to happen.
“You cannot exercise the right to keep and bear arms without being able to buy or make your own firearm,” he said.
CBS News reported Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro also believes such guns in the hands of unknown users “is too daunting to stand by and not take action,” so he also is fighting the publication plans.
He said a temporary agreement had been reached to block the downloads in his state.
The State Department had demanded Wilson remove his blueprints five years ago. He complied but fired back with a free speech lawsuit.
Officials from additional states also plan to fight the settlement, essentially demanding that the government renege on its agreement with the company and impose further restrictions.
A Bloomberg editorial argued privately made guns without serial numbers already are available legally, but the process requires “significant expertise.”
That means, the editorial board said, it’s not a public safety crisis.
But posting plans online “would change this radically.”
“Regardless of what the State Department does, Congress needs to step forward with legislation. It needs to demand background checks for the components purchased to manufacture firearms. And all guns should be traceable by means of identifiable markers,” the commentary urged.
“The Wilson settlement must not go forward. The State Department needs to reverse course.”