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New Legal Case Supports 3D-Printed Gun Blueprints Under Free Speech

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It’s three years since the files to 3D-print a gun were published online by Cody Wilson. Soon after he received a letter from the State Department demanding the files be removed from the internet—and now he’s fighting that under the argument of free speech.


The letter, issued by a smaller Department agency known as the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, asked that the plans for the gun, called the Liberator, be taken down. Wired reports that advocacy group Defense Distributed, run by Wilson, submitted lawsuit against the State Department and a number of its officials on Wednesday, claiming that its demands violate the right for free speech. Speaking to Wired, Wilson said:

“If code is speech, the constitutional contradictions are evident…So what if this code is a gun? Nothing can possibly stand in the way of this being disseminated to the people, and yet they insist on maintaining the power to do so.”


The Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, meanwhile, points to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations to justify its requests. It claims that posting code to print a gun online is akin to smuggling AK-47s across a border. It may, arguably, be too late for the officials to stop the digital version of the smuggling: over 100,00 people downloaded the plans in the course of just two days this time two years ago. Now, it’s freely available on torrent sites all over the Internet.

That’s no stopping it take action, though—so it’s understandable that Wilson is taking a stance. Who will win remains to be seen, but it looks like the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls will have a tough time getting there whatever the result. [Wired]

Image by Keith Beaty/Toronto Star via Getty Images