In news directly related to the recent announcement of a federal settlement with Defense Distributed, a Seattle federal judge has issued a restraining order to prevent Defense Distributed from posting the blueprint files. From National Review:
If there’s a hall of fame for futile, symbolic, and ultimately unconstitutional federal court orders, the temporary restraining order just issued in Seattle blocking Defense Distributed and the Second Amendment Foundation from posting blueprints for 3D-printed guns deserves at least a plaque, if not a full display. The court’s order temporarily overturns a Trump administration legal settlement that reversed an Obama-era policy designed mainly to limit the spread of the relevant files abroad, not here at home. I love NPR’s sardonic Twitter response:
It’s unclear how the temporary order can be enforced. The plans were already placed online days ago and downloaded thousands of times and posted online elsewhere.
— NPR (@NPR) July 31, 2018
NPR gets it. Let’s be clear about what has just happened. A federal court has issued a prior restraint on speech (it’s attempting to block the spread of information; it is not blocking the lawful home manufacture of firearms) that is already thoroughly and completely moot. The files are out. They’re all over the internet. They’ve been copied and reproduced. The judge’s order can’t change that fact.
Moreover, Defense Distributed and the Second Amendment Foundation are hardly the only sources for online files or blueprints that enable a home manufacturer with a 3D printer to make a gun. I’m honestly unclear what the court is trying to accomplish here, aside from targeting the Trump administration and/or targeting a disfavored private company.
Earlier today I published a lengthy explainer of the factual and legal issues surrounding the 3D-printed gun controversy. I’d urge you to read the whole thing, but the bottom line is easy to understand. First, home manufacture of weapons is clearly lawful, and it has been common practice in the United States since before the founding of the nation. Second, it is thus just as lawful to “print” a gun as it is to assemble one with parts in your garage. Third, the plans to print guns are widely-available on the internet — and have been for some time.
Put another way, a gun that’s lawful to assemble is lawful to print. A gun that’s unlawful to assemble is unlawful to print, and that includes undetectable plastic guns that are either printed or assembled. It’s that simple.There is no new “threat” here. There is no crisis…
The files at issue can still be downloaded from http://codeisfreespeech.com/
Tonight, the organizations and individuals behind CodeIsFreeSpeech.com, a new Web site for the publication and sharing of firearm-related speech, including machine code, have issued the following statement:
Our Constitution’s First Amendment secures the right of all people to engage in truthful speech, including by sharing information contained in books, paintings, and files. Indeed, freedom of speech is a bedrock principle of our United States and a cornerstone of our democratic Republic. Through CodeIsFreeSpeech.com, we intend to encourage people to consider new and different aspects of our nation’s marketplace of ideas – even if some government officials disagree with our views or dislike our content – because information is code, code is free speech, and free speech is freedom.
Should any tyrants wish to chill or infringe the rights of the People, we would welcome the opportunity to defend freedom whenever, wherever, and however necessary. Hand-waving and hyperbole are not compelling government interests and censorship is not proper tailoring under the law.
There is no doubt that Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed have inspired countless Americans to exercise their fundamental, individual rights, including through home gunsmithing. Through CodeIsFreeSpeech.com, we hope to promote the collection and dissemination of truthful, non-misleading speech, new and evolving ideas, and the advancement of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms…