Judge Extends 3D-Printed Gun Ban, Case Will Be Appealed

Kyle Perisic | Contributor

A federal judge extended his ban on the distribution of 3D-printed gun blueprints online in a case that will test the legal limits of the new technology and free speech.

“The court finds that the irreparable burdens on the private defendants’ First Amendment rights are dwarfed by the irreparable harms the states are likely to suffer if the existing restrictions are withdrawn,” U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik in Seattle ruled, CNET reported Monday.

Lasnik made the original judgement on July 31 to ban the distribution of 3D-printed gun blueprints online.

Gun rights advocates call the ruling not only a violation of the Second Amendment right to bear arms, but also the First Amendment right of free speech.

Cody Wilson, the founder of the nonprofit digital publishing firm Defense Distributed and creator of 3D-printed gun designs, argues the distribution of code qualifies as an act of free speech.

The case will go forward, but no further hearings have been scheduled at the time of publication, Ars Technica reported Monday. Defense Distributed will appeal the judge’s ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, Wilson told CNET.

“The order is a manifest injustice and a farcical admission of abridgment of the freedom of speech,” Wilson said in an email statement to CNET. “I’ll be pleased to correct this judge at the Ninth Circuit.”

Author C.J. Awelow made Wilson’s code for the 3D-printed gun, the “Liberator,” available in a book on Amazon Aug. 1 — the day after Lasnik’s first ruling. The book was removed on Aug. 22 for violating unspecified policy rules, The Daily Caller News Foundation reported.

The book, “The Liberator Code Book: An Exercise in Freedom of Speech,” was published in an act of free speech according to its description, Forbes reported(RELATED: Facebook To Ban Pages That Share 3D Gun Digital Blueprints)

“The purpose of this exercise is to give a physical analogy between computer code and books. Code is speech,” the book’s description said, according to Forbes. “This is a printed copy of .step files for the Liberator, and not much else. Don’t expect a gripping narrative; that’s being played out in the news and the courts.”

The debate over the legality of 3D-printed guns continues between lawmakers, gun rights advocates, and gun control advocates. Specific aspects of 3D-printed accessories fall under pre-existing and long-standing laws that have been in place for decades.

For example, untraceable ammunition has been illegal for decades, and making firearms that cannot be detected with metal detectors or X-rays is also already illegal.

Even President Donald Trump has asked whether 3D-printed firearms should be legal. Trump said in a tweet on July 31 that he is “looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to [the National Rifle Association], doesn’t seem to make much sense!”

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