The Government Will Allow Gun Designs To Be Distributed Online, A Blow To Gun Control Efforts

Elias Atienza | Contributor

The Department of Justice settled a lawsuit with Defense Distributed and the Second Amendment Foundation in June, which will allow Americans access to firearm blueprints online, including designs that can be created with a 3D printer.

The DOJ offered the plaintiffs the settlement in April and it was finalized in June, according to Wired. Americans will be allowed to “access, discuss, use, reproduce or otherwise benefit from the technical data,” such as designs for the AR-15, according to Reason.

The Department of State ordered Cody Wilson, the founder of Defense Distributed, to not release the blueprints of the “Liberator,” a plastic single-shot pistol, onto the internet, warning that Wilson might be prosecuted for violating the International Trade in Arms Regulation (ITAR) back in 2013. The Liberator could be printed at home with a 3D printer and the blueprints were downloaded 10,000 times before the government intervened.

In response, Wilson and the Second Amendment Foundation sued the State Department in 2015, claiming the order violated Wilson’s First Amendment rights. (RELATED: 3-D Gun Company Sues State Department For Violating The First Amendment)

“At the time it posted the Published Files, Defense Distributed did not know that the Defendants would demand to pre-approve public speech,” the lawsuit claimed. “Defense Distributed believed, and continues to believe, that the United States Constitution guarantees a right to share truthful speech — especially speech concerning fundamental constitutional rights — in open forums.”

The lawsuit also alleged that the “the ad hoc, informal and arbitrary manner in which that scheme is applied, violate the First, Second, and Fifth Amendments.”

Alan Gura, one of the attorneys representing Wilson, tweeted that the case ended in a “favorable settlement” in which the government will pay Wilson part of his legal costs. Wilson told Wired the government would pay him $39,000 or 10 percent of the total costs.


Gura, who won the Heller and McDonald landmark gun rights cases in front of the Supreme Court, told Reason the government decided to settle the case because no 5th Circuit judge “offered that they [federal government] were likely to succeed on their merits.”

“To the contrary, the centerpiece of their victory was that they could somehow avoid the merits. When they could avoid the merits no longer, suddenly the national security threat faded away,” Gura said.

One of the most important parts of the settlement is the classification of weapons such as the AR-15. The Second Amendment Foundation claims that “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.”

The Daily Wire argued this admission that AR-15s are not “inherently military” could spur more challenges to assault weapon bans enacted in states such as New York and Maryland.

Wilson has not been shy about his victory. He told the Daily Wire that gun control is “officially dead” and boasted that he has done more for gun rights than the NRA.

“I barely put a million bucks into this and I got you the Second Amendment forever,” Wilson said to the Daily Wire. “What has the NRA done for you lately?”

Gun control groups have been relatively mum on the recent settlement, with only the Newtown Action Alliance, a Connecticut-focused gun control group, decrying what happened.

“This should alarm everyone,” Po Murray, chairwoman of Newtown Action Alliance, told Wired. “We’re passing laws in Connecticut and other states to make sure these weapons of war aren’t getting into the hands of dangerous people. They’re working in the opposite direction.”

Defense Distributed will be allowed to post gun blueprints on their website starting Aug. 1.

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