Judge Robert S. Lasnik of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington signed a nationwide restraining order Tuesday night, preventing Cody Wilson and his company, Defense Distributed from making available online their 3D gun part Computer Aided Design (CAD) files. A cadre of activist Democrat attorneys general initiated the action.
Lasnik’s order also mandated that the federal government treat the files as prohibited information under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). As reported by LN, only days ago the State Department settled a case with Mr. Wilson explicitly agreeing that ITAR does not permit them to violate the First Amendment rights of Americans and that banning the distribution of digital files would be such a violation.
The next hearing in the case is currently set for August 10th, when Lasnik will rule on whether to make the restrictive order more permanent. That is, of course, barring any actions or appeals that may come from a higher court. The court of appeals for the Western District of Washington is the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Called derisively the “Ninth Circus,” it has the reputation of being far-left with an activist inclination.
After emerging from over five years of litigation over the publication of the files, Wilson planned a big release on August 1, 2018, at his website defcad.com. Visitors there are now greeted by a notice that the site was shuttered by a federal judge and a call to join the fight to uncensor the site.
While there are many restrictions on transferring those parts to others, they don’t exist on creating them for oneself. You may not, without a federal gun manufacturers license, (to say nothing of state and local licensure) build and sell a gun to another. You may, however, build one for yourself. So, while 3D printing cannot make a gun barrel that replaces a metal one (yet), it need not do so, because barrels are not restricted.
Federal firearms regulations generally specify one or a few parts of a given weapon that are the regulated part. Take the AR-15 for instance – America’s most popular rifle:
Depending on how you count, there are dozens or hundreds of parts for that firearm. The single part circled in red is called a stripped lower receiver, and that is the part that is, legally speaking, the firearm. The other parts shown are not regulated in any way and may be bought or sold by anyone without restriction. One can create their own AR-15 then, by buying all the parts that are not subject to regulation and using a 3D printer with the appropriate CAD file to create the part that is – all without permission from government authorities. That’s the point for Cody Wilson. The libertarian said: “I think the state should be as weak as possible relative to the individual,” and that “the proper posture of the state is one that at least is in fear of its citizen, not one that lords over it.”
The Democrat politicians’ attempts to suppress the distribution of the files was successful for Mr. Wilson’s website, so far. It is not, however, stopping the files’ distribution. The files are now and have been hosted in various corners of the web since they were initially released. A recent check of the popular file sharing torrent website The Pirate Bay reveals numerous versions, all well seeded. Get yours while you still can.