Many gun owners and gun lovers alike have been eagerly waiting on the Supreme Court’s decision on addressing the issue of 3-D printing firearms. U
Unfortunately, it’s looks as though the Supreme Court is rejecting Defense Distributed v. State, and sending the topic “back to the drawing board.”
Cody Wilson, founder of Defense Distributed, is remaining strong upon hearing about the Supreme Court’s rejection. According to Guns.com, Wilson states:
“I don’t know whats going to happen, but eventually the issue is going to get before a court that can really consider it, like the Fifth Circuit and the Fifth Circuit is looking pretty good,” he said. “But it still might take a year or two years to get it done.”
As of now, citizens are still able to build firearms for personal use only, so long as they follow all current federal gun laws.
However, critics have a strong concern that the ease of 3-D printing will eventually provide ample opportunity for these untraceable plastic guns to fall into the wrong hands.
Wilson has been fighting against government’s resistance about these guns for a long time now,. For instance, back in 2013 the federal government was insisting that he take a digital file for a single-shot .380 caliber pistol known as “The Liberator” off Defense Distributed’s website, saying the file was violating the International Traffic in Arms Regulation.
However, their demands came too late. Just after 48 hours of being on the site, The Liberator had already garnered over 100,000 downloads. In addition, the gun’s blueprints still exist in other places on the internet.
According to Guns.com:
Wilson argues sharing gun designs online breaks no laws and imposing ITAR on the files violates his free speech rights. He’s spent more than $1 million since 2015 suing the U.S. Department of State, eager for the courts to settle whether his actions amount to arms exportation.
“The issues are pretty clear,” he said. “The whole question is whether you can show that this ITAR as a regime of speech is unconstitutional when restricting gun stuff, so that’s a big issue.”
Kelsey Wilbanks, an analyst for Law360, said federal courts, so far, “have taken a modest approach in defining when technology is free speech.”
“Precedent allows for computer code to be covered speech, but is not conclusive that code is always covered speech,” she said, noting the case — or something similar — could wind its way right back up to the Supreme Court over national security concerns.
“Beyond national security, online distribution and download of CAD files has global reach,” she said. “Anyone with an internet connection and the proper tools can post, repost, download and use a CAD file for a gun.”
A Supreme Court ruling deeming CAD files free speech, Wilbanks said, would tie the government’s hands and create roadblocks for regulating everything from guns to pharmaceutical drugs to prosthetic body parts. A ruling against Defense Distributed, however, would allow the government to regulate CAD files “like the objects they digitally embody.”
“In that event, operators might be reluctant to post certain CAD files for fear they could be considered weapons under ITAR, or even CAD files subject to other regulatory schemes,” she said. “This could inhibit innovation and open sharing.”