Democrat AGs take drubbing from 9th Circuit in printed guns case

By Bob Unruh

A large coalition of anti-gun Democrat attorneys general from around the country this week took a drubbing at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is typically left-leaning but in this case canceled a lower court’s injunction against the posting online of files for 3-D printed guns.

“This is a humongous loss for anti-gun Democrat state attorneys general,” explained Second Amendment Foundation founder Alan M. Gottlieb. “They consistently attack Second Amendment rights any way they can.”

The decision came from the 9th Circuit in a lawsuit filed by 22 state attorneys general and the AG for the District of Columbia against an agreement between the State and Commerce departments and SAF and Defense Distributed allowing the posting of data relating to 3-D printing of firearms.

“This legal debacle was led by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson,” Gottlieb explained, “who became famous for suing the Trump administration in a series of partisan legal actions that cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

“SAF and Defense Distributed look forward to sharing technical firearms information with millions of interested people on the Internet,” Gottlieb added.

The 9th Circuit panel sent the case back to district court with instructions that it be dismissed.

Writing for the majority, Circuit Judge Ryan D. Nelson noted, “Because both the DOS and Commerce Final Rules are unreviewable, the states have not demonstrated the requisite likelihood of success on the merits… Congress expressly barred judicial review of designations and undesignations of defense articles under the Control Act and of any functions exercised under the Reform Act. Accordingly, the district court erred in reviewing the DOS and Commerce Final Rules, and its injunction is therefore contrary to law.”

“I want to thank the National Shooting Sports Foundation for intervening at the Appeals Court level,” Gottlieb said. “Obviously, the intent of the lawsuit was to void the agreement State had with SAF and Defense Distributed via a final rule that would remove 3-D printed guns and files from the U.S. Munitions list regulated by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). SAF and Defense Distributed were not named in the lawsuit to avoid this becoming a First Amendment case. As interested parties, we tried to get the trial judge to realize this was about our First Amendment rights to exercise our Second Amendment rights, because we were convinced we would have won on that basis.”

Courthousenews reported that the new administration in Washington, under President Biden, is expected to renew the attack on 3-D printed gun files as soon as it can.

The lower court judge, District Judge Robert Lasnik, had blocked rules that transferred regulatory control of those computer files from the State Department to the Commerce Department.

The changes then also removed the blueprints from a State Department list of munitions that require a license to export. Twenty-two states led by Washington state sued to prevent the rule changes from taking effect.

The majority opinion from U.S. Circuit Judges Jay Bybee and Nelson found the courts specifically lack authority to review such actions.

“Because Congress expressly precluded review of the relevant agency actions here, we vacate the injunction and remand with instructions to dismiss,” Nelson wrote.

In a dissent, U.S. District Judge Robert Whaley claimed the majority misinterpreted the intent of Congress.

Courthousenews explained, “Changes to how 3D-printed gun specs are regulated were first proposed in May 2018 about two months after the Trump administration agreed to settle a lawsuit with a private company that distributes blueprints … Under the terms of that deal, the Trump administration agreed to remove 3D-printed gun specs from the State Department’s list of regulated munitions.”

In a related development, WND reported only weeks ago that the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an attempt by the attorney general of New Jersey to avoid First Amendment liability over his plan to ban the distribution of instructions on printing 3D firearms.

In a unanimous decision, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled that Gurbir Grewal was subject to the jurisdiction of Texas courts in a lawsuit brought by Texas-based Defense Distributed.

The weapons case centers on the First Amendment, not the Second Amendment, because it’s about the distribution of information.

Grewal had asked the high court to take the 5th Circuit conclusion and change it.

“It’s not every day you beat a state attorney general at the Supreme Court,” observed Gottlieb, “especially when he had been supported by other anti-gun state attorneys general from New York, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, and the District of Columbia. This is a huge victory.”

The company had accused New Jersey of violating the First Amendment by trying to block the gun company from releasing computer files with instructions on how to make untraceable 3D-printed guns.

Defense Distributed is in federal court in Texas with the Second Amendment Foundation asking for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against Grewal to prevent enforcement of a new law that they believe is a direct infringement of their First Amendment rights.

New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy had signed Senate Bill 2465, which was aimed at censoring SAF and Defense Distributed, SAF contends.

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