Federal judge blocks release of 3-D printable gun designs

Jazz wrote about this story earlier today but this update came late in the afternoon so I’m jumping in with a follow-up. A federal judge has blocked the release of designs intended to allow people to make their own firearms using a 3-D printer. From the Washington Post:

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Lasnik granted a temporary restraining order on Tuesday night barring a trove of downloadable information about creating the do-it-yourself weapons.

Eight attorneys general and the District of Columbia argued the instructions posed a national security threat. New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) on Tuesday also issued a cease-and-desist order against the man who was scheduled to post them online.

“In a major victory for common sense and public safety, a federal judge just granted our request for a nationwide temporary restraining order — blocking the Trump administration from allowing the distribution of materials to easily 3-D print guns,” New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood said in a statement. “As we argued in the suit we filed yesterday, it is — simply — crazy to give criminals the tools to build untraceable, undetectable 3-D printed guns at the touch of a button. Yet that’s exactly what the Trump administration decided to allow.”

Josh Blackman, an attorney who represents Cody Wilson, the founder of the nonprofit that planned to post the instructions, said the restraining order violates protected First Amendment rights.

“We were disappointed in the ruling and view it as a massive prior restraint of free speech,” Blackman said.

The problem with all of this is that designs for 3-D printable guns have been online since 2013 at other sites and are still available now. Also, a number of designs went up on Cody Wilson’s site last Friday. From HuffPost:

Under the terms of the government’s settlement with Defense Distributed, the State Department gave the company the go-ahead to begin publishing the files on Friday. The blueprints went live shortly after.

With more than 4,500 downloads as of Tuesday afternoon, the most popular blueprint on the site appeared to be for “the Liberator,” a single-shot .380-caliber handgun made almost entirely of 3D-printed plastic. Models for the AR-15, the second-most popular firearm, had been downloaded more than 3,000 times. Those numbers appeared to be rising, though the Defense Distributed website and a page hosting the downloads were crashing frequently. Attempts by HuffPost to obtain the files were unsuccessful.

So this cat has been out of the bag for a long time. But the real issue in the legal case is whether or not shutting down the site would be a violation of Wilson’s First Amendment right to free speech. On that point, I think Wilson is going to eventually win this case, in the Supreme Court if necessary. Wilson will be on CBS This Morning tomorrow. Here’s a preview of that interview:

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