Published by The Lawfare Institute
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This week saw law and common sense unite in opposition to the widespread availability of dangerously untraceable, undetectable guns. A federal judge in the state of Washington issued an order barring the State Department from allowing Defense Distributed, a self-described “private defense firm,” to make the blueprints for 3D-printed plastic guns freely available on the internet. The judge’s order may not eradicate the threat posed by Defense Distributed’s attempt to widely share recipes for lethal violence, given that the blueprints have—regrettably—already found their way to certain corners of the internet. But it’s an important step, both for protecting citizens at home and abroad from gun violence and for reasserting the rule of law.
The State Department’s International Trafficking in Arms Regulations sensibly ban the “export” of technical data, i.e. blueprints, related to the design, manufacture and assembly of certain firearms. Because publishing those blueprints online would make them available worldwide, such publication was an “export” prohibited under the regulations until last month, when the government dramatically reversed its legal position. After successfully defending the regulations against a lawsuit brought by Defense Distributed several years ago to permit it to publish the blueprints—arguing that the blueprints’ publication was protected by the First Amendment—in July 2018, the government abruptly settled the lawsuit by agreeing to change State Department regulations and authorizing the company to publish the blueprints while the regulatory change is pending. It even agreed to pay Defense Distributed $40,000.
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