The U.S. Department of State is being sued for allegedly infringing on the First Amendment after demanding the removal of blueprints for a 3-D printable gun.
In 2013, Cody Wilson’s non-profit digital publishing firm Defense Distributed released the blueprints for the Liberator, a plastic single-shot pistol that could be printed at home using a 3-D printer. The Liberator’s blueprints received over 100,000 downloads before the State Department intervened.
The State Department responded to Defense Distributed by sending a letter to Wilson insisting the blueprints be removed or else Wilson may face prosecution for violating the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. Since the blueprints could be downloaded internationally, the letter implies Defense Distributed may have violated export controls.
On Wednesday, Wilson, along with the Second Amendment Foundation, responded by filing a lawsuit against the State Department claiming the threats regarding the removal of the blueprints violated the First Amendment. According to Wilson, the blueprints constitute free speech.
“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 reads.
“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 continues, explaining why Wilson complied with the State Department’s request, “Nevertheless, for fear of criminal and civil enforcement, Defense Distributed promptly complied with Defendants’ demands and removed all of the Published Files from its servers.”
In addition to suing on freedom of speech grounds, Defense Distributed is also suing the State Department for violating the Second and Fifth Amendments.