The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) is announcing that it has reached a settlement with the US Department of Justice in SAF’s lawsuit on behalf of Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed over free speech issues related to 3-D files and other information that may be used to manufacture lawful firearms.
“Not only is this a First Amendment victory for free speech, it also is a devastating blow to the gun prohibition lobby,” said SAF founder and Executive VP Alan M. Gottlieb.
The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), founded in 1974, protects the Constitutional right to privately own and possess firearms. The SAF announcement was posted by Josh Blackman, who has served as counsel for the Cody Wilson, Defense Distributed, and the Second Amendment Foundation since 2015.
"Under terms of the settlement, the government has agreed to waive its prior restraint against the plaintiffs, allowing them to freely publish the 3-D files and other information at issue."
Americans may now "access, discuss, use, reproduce or otherwise benefit from the technical data" that the government had previously ordered Defense Distributed to cease distributing, tweeted libertarian magazine Reason.
Wired tells the background story in an article titled "A landmark legal shift opens pandora's box for DIY guns." Radical libertarian activist Cody Wilson is the founder of Defense Distributed, a non-profit organization that develops open source gun designs that can be 3D-printed by users, and publishes the designs through its DEFCAD website.
In 2013 Wilson shared online the specs of the first gun that could be reproduced with a 3D printer. Soon after, he received a letter from the US State Department demanding that he take down his printable-gun blueprints or face prosecution for violating federal export controls. On May 6, 2015, Defense Distributed and the SAF started their eventually successful suit against the Department of State.
“I currently have no national legal barriers to continue or expand DEFCAD,” Wilson told TechCrunch.
“This legal victory is the formal beginning to the era of downloadable guns. Guns are as downloadable as music. There will be streaming services for semi-automatics.”
"I consider it a truly grand thing," Wilson told Wired. "It will be an irrevocable part of political life that guns are downloadable, and we helped to do that. We’re doing the encyclopedic work of collecting this data and putting it into the commons. What’s about to happen is a Cambrian explosion of the digital content related to firearms.”
It's worth noting that Wilson has also a long history as blockchain technology developer focused on private, untraceable cryptocurrencies.
The revived Defense Distributed website simply notes that the organization will relaunch DEFCAD on August 1, 2018, "after reaching a settlement agreement with the US Department of State, concluding a multi-year federal lawsuit,"
"The age of the downloadable gun formally begins."
The possibility of sharing the detailed design specs of guns that anyone can fab with affordable 3D printers sounds scary to many people. Reason notes that the Wired story "is mostly devoted to scaring the reader about what a world in which people are freer to use computer files to make weapons at home might mean."
In my own personal opinion, this represents a small victory in the long war against the control freakery of both the left and the right. Both conservatives and liberals will hate this development, and only hardcore libertarians will like it. I personally like it: Of course there will be problems to solve, but prohibiting the free exchange of information is never a good solution.
Picture from Wikimedia Commons.
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Crypto Insider Editor Giulio Prisco is a writer specialized in science, technology and business. He is persuaded that crypto has the potential to bring disruptive positive changes to the internet and society at large.