From the Trussville Tribune staff reports
BELLEVUE, Wash. – Tomorrow, August 1, Americans will be able to resume downloading 3-D guns after a court ruled that a Texas private defense firm could publish their online printable firearms again after a 5-year battle with the U.S. Department of State.
Defense Distributors (DD), according to the non-profit’s website, is a private defense firm engaged in the research, design, development, and manufacture of products and services for the benefit of the American rifleman.
DD, who is headquartered in Austin, Texas, began its multi-multi-year federal lawsuit in May of 2013 when their 3D technology tested the boundaries of the First Amendment doctrine.
One with a 3D printer can simply print just about any object from a computer code. What if the sharing of this published online code is considered speech? More importantly, what if the object is an untraceable weapon such as a computer-aided design (CAD) 3-D firearm?
Since it’s opening in 2012, DD has published several files for 3D guns including the first 3D-printable handgun called ‘The Liberator’, which received approximately 100,000 downloads in just two days.
But on May of 2013, the private firmed received a letter from the State Department alleging that under the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), the CAD files posted could not be exported online without government’s pre approval.
In the case of Defense Distributors vs U.S. Department of State, the Fifth Circuit found that the need to prevent foreign nationals from obtaining files to print untraceable weapons “lies within the public interest in national defense.” Furthermore, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the public interest in safety trumped the plaintiff’s interest in their First Amendment rights.
On July 10, the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), legal action group focusing on Constitutional rights, and DD reached a settlement in a lawsuit filed by Cody Wilson and DD over free speech issues related to the 3-D files.
According to SAF, the settlement terms include waiving its prior constraint again the plaintiff, allowing them to publish the 3-D files. In addition, the government has agreed to pay a portion of the attorney’s fees for the plaintiff, and to return $10,000 in Star Department registration dues paid by DD as a result of the restraint.
“Not only is this a First Amendment victory for free speech, it also is a devastating blow to the gun prohibition lobby,” noted SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. 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,” he continued, “the government will draft and pursue regulatory amendments that eliminate ITAR control over the technical information at the center of this case. They will transfer export jurisdiction to the Commerce Department, which does not impose prior restraint on public speech. That will allow Defense Distributed and SAF to publish information about 3-D technology.”
About SAF: The Second Amendment Foundation (www.saf.org) is the nation’s oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms. Founded in 1974, The Foundation has grown to more than 600,000 members and supporters and conducts many programs designed to better inform the public about the consequences of gun control.