Numerous state attorneys general have filed suit to stop Cody Wilson and his company, Defense Distributed, from distributing digital copies of gun drawings, and Donald Trump’s tweet on the matter indicates he may be on board with the censorship.
Cody Wilson gained widespread notice after a 2012 pitch video for the crowd-funder Indiegogo went viral. He and an informal group of others calling themselves Defense Distributed (DD) wanted access to a 3D printer to develop a printable firearm. They created the prototype for a firearm using 3D printing technology, and after successful development, they shared their work, called a Computer Aided Design (CAD) file, with the world.
Knowledge Is Power
“Defense Distributed’s goal is not personal armament; it’s the liberation of information.” Liberating and disseminating the knowledge of how to produce a workable firearm by just about anyone is manna for some, but terrifying for others. It’s especially upsetting for authoritarian types who desperately wish to keep the people unarmed. It certainly was to President Obama and John Kerry, who searched for any legal way to prevent DD from making the files available.
Less than a week after the files were made public, the United States Department of State Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) ordered DD remove its publicly accessible CAD files. The Obama administration draped its censorship in the veil of International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), interpreting the regulations to impose a prior approval requirement on the publication of Defense Distributed’s files into the public domain. Wilson and DD quickly sued, alleging the novel theory of ITAR regulatory enforcement was little more than an end-run around their First and Second Amendment rights.
That case was slowly working itself through the courts, until July 29th. That’s when the State Department settled with Wilson, opening the door for him to again host and distribute these files online. Wilson commented with a tweet of a tombstone bearing the inscription “American Gun Control.”
— Cody R. Wilson (@Radomysisky) July 10, 2018
Democrats To The Rescue
Enter the Dem AGs. Activist Democrat attorneys general from Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and at least five other states plus D.C. have sued Wilson, his company, and the State Department to censor the publication of the files. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, separately announced an agreement with DD on the 29th, whereby visitors to the website with IP addresses indicating they were accessing the files from Pennsylvania would be refused access. Shapiro said:
“Defense Distributed was promising to distribute guns in Pennsylvania in reckless disregard of the state laws that apply to gun sales and purchases in our Commonwealth. Once these untraceable guns are on our streets and in our schools, we can never get them back. The decision tonight to block Pennsylvania users from downloading these 3D gun files is a victory for public safety and common sense.”
Shapiro was not available for comment to Liberty Nation. Since the language of the release states that Pennsylvania’s attorney general considers digital information to be the same as tangible objects, I asked if perhaps the release itself misquoted him. His staffer told me that it was not published in error. I refrained from asking if Pennsylvania would be prosecuting the thousands, if not millions of website owners who publish information on how to build a bomb. Are digital librarians around the world guilty of furnishing alcohol to minors if they include a beer recipe online? The shocking degree of censorship authority Attorney General Shapiro grants himself is not supported by the Pennsylvania or U.S. Constitutions.
President Trump seemed to signal a willingness to support the censorship and disavow his own State Department’s legal agreement on the case. Tuesday morning, he Tweeted “I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!”
I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 31, 2018
I’ll make it easy for you Mr. President. This is simply about whether the government gets to tell one person he can’t share his knowledge with another. Wilson says “[i]t meets all the requirements of speech — it’s artistic and political, you can manipulate it, and it needs human involvement to become other things.” Barak Hussein Obama repeatedly demonstrated open contempt and willfully violated the First and Second Amendment rights of all Americans. Let’s pray President Trump doesn’t follow suit.
Defense Distributed site DefCAD promises to publish its files to those not under court-ordered ignorance on August 1st, 2018.
3D printers typically use plastic raw materials heated and extruded along three axes to replicate the file dimensions that it is printing. You can see a demonstration here: