Supreme Court Bans Printing 3-D Guns

The Supreme Court turned down its chance to weigh-in on regulations for 3-D printed firearms — for now.

The high court announced its decision Jan. 8, sending Defense Distributed v. State back to the western district of Texas to be heard on its merits.

Cody Wilson, Defense Distributed’s founder, told Guns.com Friday he’s undeterred by the rejection.

“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.”

In 2013, the federal government demanded Wilson remove his computer-aided design file for “The Liberator” — a single-shot .380 caliber pistol — from Defense Distributed’s website as a violation of the International Traffic in Arms Regulation.

Building a homemade firearm falls within the limits of federal gun laws, so long as its kept for personal use. Critics worry the ease and eventual proliferation of 3-D printing will put thousands of untraceable plastic guns into the wrong hands.

The federal takedown demand for Defense Distributed came too late, however. Users downloaded the Liberator over 100,000 times in 48 hours and blueprints of the gun still exist elsewhere across the internet.

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.”

source: guns.com

  • kenbarber

    courts can rule how they want, but this genie will not get back in the bottle. people have the printers, many software versions are on the web. the guns will get printed by anyone who wants one bad enough. although i think getting plans to build a working glock or AR is the better way to go if you are handy with tools.

  • Terry Butts

    So they have no concept of how many people already have been arrested for making and illegally selling without an FFL ACTUAL metal guns with very little in the way of tools and foolishly think that some single shot might work if you had the correct material printed gun that requires a VERY EXPENSIVE piece of equipment to make is somehow going to to be used by CRIMINALS to mass produce guns to be illegally sold or used in crimes?

    If a criminal wants a single shot gun all they need is a pipe, a shell that fits it, and something to hit the primer with it is not some complicated thing that REQUIRES them to have any machine to make.

    They have even CONFISCATED such guns from PRISONERS in the most restricted prison environments in the world including the US so no one with intelligence is going to believe any claim that BANNING law abiding citizens from having something is going to remove it from the hands of criminals. Especially when the very borders of this nation are less protected than any one of those prisons and GUN MAKING is not a US only industry or even done ONLY by authorized manufacturers as the arrests mentioned above has proven.

  • HeedTheseWords

    If criminals cared about the laws or the Court’s interpretation, we would not have to defend against them.

  • myfordtruck

    The thing is the Gov. want to know who and how many guns are out there but due to so many guns being handed down just from the 60s and how many people that have made they do not know and will never know

  • Tim

    I can buy a flare gun for my boat and do the same thing! This is a stupid law ,Really a plastic single shot gun that you are not allowed to sell or transfer in any way! RIDICULOUS!!!!!!

  • Alexandra

    The thing is the Gov. want to know who and how many guns are out there but due to so many guns being handed down just from the 60s and how many people that have made they do not know and will never know

  • pics fixer

    I’ll agree with the fact that a bad guy will always be able to get a gun. With that said, there are non-criminals who should have at least a harder time getting one. BG checks and cooling off periods help with that and should be done. Also, the data used for the BG checks should be properly maintained. There should also be universal rules on guns that all states should follow. Doing nothing and making it very easy to get any gun you want is not very smart.

    The Supreme Court did what it could. It’s better than nothing at all.

  • Alan404

    Tried to comment, twice, on this article, entering email address and password as requested. This routine does not seem to work, what’s up?

  • Alan404

    How come The Court seems to be ducking an obviously important issue, one that should be viewed under Strict Scrutiny. Additionally, of late, it seems as if lower courts are looking at Second Amendment issues/cases with considerably less than the Strict Scruting such matters deserve.

    Two previous attempts to post essentially the same comment failed, despite having entered username and password, as requested.

  • vaakklaas

    courts can rule how they want, but this genie will not get back in the bottle. people have the printers, many software versions are on the web. the guns will get printed by anyone who wants one bad enough. although i think getting plans to build a working glock or AR is the better way to go if you are handy with tools

  • AbbudM

    The thing is the Gov. want to know who and how many guns are out there but due to so many guns being handed down just from the 60s and how many people that have made they do not know and will never know

  • A9

    The thing is the Gov. want to know who and how many guns are out there but due to so many guns being handed down just from the 60s and how many people that have made they do not know and will never know