Cody Wilson is widely considered to have been the inventor of the 3D-printed pistol (above). When Wilson’s company Defense Distributed published files for printing the firearm on the Internet, the State Department cited the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) agreement and ordered them removed. Defense Distributed joined with the Second Amendment Foundation to file a lawsuit against the Obama administration State Department for violation of their First, Second, and Fifth Amendment rights. The filed their case, Defense Distributed v. U.S. Department of State, on 5 May, 2015 . . .

Celebrated Second Amendment attorney Alan Gura – he of the Heller decision – and Josh Blackman are representing  SAF and Defense Distributed. When they asked the court for a preliminary injunction against the State Department the Federal District Court ruled in favor of the State Department. That ruling is being appealed to the Fifth Circuit.

On December 10th, Defense Distributed and SAF submitted their Appellant’s brief. It is an excellent summation of the issues involved. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is one of several organizations that filed an Amicus brief in favor of Defense Distributed. Others include members of the House of Representatives, the Cato Institute and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. From the brief:

The licensing regime at issue in this case is a prior restraint that lacks the procedural safeguards required by the First Amendment to prevent discriminatory censorship decisions. It flies in the face of Supreme Court decisions that dictate how free speech interests are balanced with national security, such that speech is restrained only where absolutely necessary to prevent proven, immediate threats to concrete national security interests.

The brief makes many cogent points.  One of them is this:

The scope of ITAR’s prohibition on speech could apply to members of the press republishing newsworthy technical data, professors educating the public on scientific and medical advances of public concern, enthusiasts sharing otherwise lawful information about firearms, domestic activists trading tips about how to treat tear gas or resist unlawful surveillance, and gun control opponents expressing a point about proliferation of weapons. Innocent online publication on certain topics is prohibited simply because a hostile foreign person could conceivably locate that information, use it to create something harmful, and use a harmful device against US interests. Speech cannot permissibly be repressed for such an attenuated and hypothetical government end.

Information about how to make weapons is not a weapon. This is not classified information. Nor are the weapons made secret military weapons.The Obama administration has crossed the line into censorship with this heavy-handed approach. The Fifth Circuit should reverse the District Court and find for the Plaintiffs. Should and will sometimes being two different things when it comes to Constitutional rights vs. government’s “interest.”

©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.
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29 Responses to Electronic Frontier Foundation Files Amicus Brief in Defense Distributed 3D Censorship Case

    • Do you work for Comcast or Verizon, or do you just prefer to have cable monopolies to utilize the leverage their monopoly position in one market to also monopolize other markets out of a misguided belief that results in a “more efficient market”?

        • I want government to regulate and contain monopolies. This is based on ample historical evidence that when this is not done, economy becomes increasingly monopolized to the detriment of everyone except the monopolists, who enjoy lack of competition (due to extremely high barriers to entry) and can therefore extract massive profits. See also: Standard Oil for a historical example, and Gilded Age for what the society looked like when this was the norm.

          Heck, even Adam Smith has pointed out that unregulated markets naturally lead to monopolization through conspiracies between would-be competitors, and that it is not a good thing (since he defined “free market” as having free competition, not as do-whatever-the-fsck-you-want).

        • The government has a horrible record when it comes to regulating monopolies. For instance, the reason Standard Oil became the dominant oil company was because of innovation. They built pipelines and tanker cars when other companies loaded up their oil in barrels and loaded them in box cars. So the government steps in and demands that the railroad companies stop giving Standard Oil a better rate than other companies. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that it’s quicker and easier to stick a hose in a tank and fill it up than it does to roll barrels up ramps into box cars, but that was too complex for the federal government to figure out.

          All federal oversight does is stifle innovation. They regulated the telephone industry for decades and in those decades the only innovation that made it to market was the touch tone dial pad. In the 30 years since deregulation we now have gone from touch tone dial pads to smart phones. The internet has done so well with no regulation at all it needs to stay that way. The big fear is that one company will slow down speeds to rival companies who compose the bulk of the data usage. But this problem has existed for 2 decades and the data speeds have increased by leaps and bounds.

          There is a role for government in regulating the behavior of companies and it’s called the court system. If another company harms your business you sue them and the government courts are the arbiter of your dispute. Beyond that the less intrusion the better. The last thing we need is a bunch of unaccountable bureaucrats in Washington with their hands around the throat of the First Amendment in the name of ‘fairness’.

        • Heck, even Adam Smith has pointed out that unregulated markets naturally lead to monopolization through conspiracies between would-be competitors,

          That generally is not the case. In fact, usually it has proven to be the opposite. Cartels and oligopolies and monopolies usually need government regulations to exist, not lack of regulation. High levels of regulation in particular are beneficial to big companies because they drive smaller companies out of business, as said smaller companies cannot meet the regulatory compliance costs, as opposed to the larger companies that have armies of lawyers and accountants.

      • Generally-speaking, every time the government tries regulating an industry or market in the name of promoting “fairness,” it does precisely the opposite.

      • I operate on a simple principle: the government has done almost nothing competently in the past 200+ years. They do almost nothing competently now. Free markets and competition have done far more to advance progress and cure the ills of the world. Why should I trust a coercive monopolistic incompetent government on the one issue of net neutrality, instead of letting free markets continue to work their every day magic?

    • EFF has stood on the side of civil rights, human rights and has been persistent in the courts to fight against bulk surveillance and fighting for digital rights. I appreciate that they recognize that the Defense Distributed issue is one of civil rights and freedom along with SAF.

  1. Free speech means free for everyone. That means people get to say things you like, hate, revolting things, etc. The good or freedom is more served by net neutrality than harmed.

    • I’m all for what you just said, that’s why I’m against what net neutrality is. You sound like you need to look more deeply into it.

    • Net Neutrality is not about freedom of speech. It’s about whether the carriers (who are private entities) can charge different rates for the same amount of data going through their “pipes” depending on where it’s going and who’s sending it, or throttling it to make it slower. For example, Comcast would want to charge Google extra for every megabyte of data streamed from YouTube, despite the fact that the consumers streaming that data have already paid for that traffic through their Internet subscription.

      Or, more nefariously, Comcast has their own streaming video service, and to give it an edge over competitors, they would throttle Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video etc, such that those services become too slow to use and/or have to reduce video stream quality to get video to their customers who are using Comcast.

      So it’s not a free speech issue. It’s about whether monopolies can and should be regulated to ensure fair competition.

      • And you, you seem to know just enough to be dangerous. Net neutrality only exists to allow the federal government to regulate even more than it did before, the collusion between The TeleComs and government is enforcing an illegitimate monopoly…now with even more rules to wield.

        • Tell me more about how that collusion is enforcing the monopoly, exactly. Does the govt preclude someone from offering an alternative cable provider through legal restrictions? No. It’s just that the barrier to entry to this market is too high for competition to suddenly appear.

      • What exactly is wrong with Comcast, AT&T, or anybody else using their property as they see fit?

        The hidden elephant in the room is that most of the bad power thrown around by Comcast, AT&T, etc, comes from all the monopolies they have been granted by the federal government and state and local governments. Absent those government monopolies, they wouldn’t be in a position to mess with others. It’s awfully hard to stop once you’ve grabbed the government monopoly tail.

        • Because it isn’t their fucking property, its been paid for with taxpayer dollars through multiple infusions and funding requests. The big telecom companies beg and plead for more taxpayer dollars, more rebates, more breaks, so they can ‘better improve the infrastructure and reach rural customers’ and they plow that money into golden parachutes for their executives and bonuses for the board.

          They have been bought and paid for, and like an uppity whore need to feel the back of a hand until they own up to their side of the bargain.

        • So, Sab, you’re really agreeing with me, that if the coercive monopolistic government hadn’t been handing out favors, we wouldn’t have this problem?

          So many people scream and holler about government favors, but their solution is government handing out new and different favors. Like hitting yourself in the head with a ball peen hammer, complaining about it, and deciding the solution is to try a claw hammer instead.

        • Right or wrong, when you are doing things that the government won’t like, you must be smart about strategy. Uber and Lyft didn’t go ask for permission to set up their cab operations, they just did it – establishing facts on the ground. Had someone gone to the FAA early on in drone development and asked for approval, they’d be harder to buy than NFA guns.

          Wilson has done just the opposite. He wasn’t the first to print a gun, he was just a rudderless self-absorbed millennial who went out there to make a name for himself. His ‘accomplishments’ are a whole lot of attention on a nascent hobby that scares the statists, and he got his 15 minutes. He will likely also “accomplish” getting 3D printing and even CAD/CAM regulated on some level.

          He’s no hero, he’s no warrior. He’s a guy chasing money and fame to the distinct detriment of all he supposedly stands for.

  2. I love the EFF. As an enlisted member of the Navy with two kids, I don’t have a lot ofor money to spare, but I will proudly say that that the EFF is the only other charity organization aside from the NRA which I regularly donate to. Although it is slightly discouraging to see some of the comments here, as well as the Republicans distaste for net neutrality in general, I will suggest regardless of political parties both the EFF and the NRA are fighting for freedom and are worthy of support.

    • You ever hear of the so-called “Fairness Doctrine,” that was supposed to keep the news media “fair and balanced?” (no intentional reference to Fox News there). The end result of the Fairness Doctrine would be the exact opposite, a way to stifle and shut down conservative and libertarian news media. The government has a very bad record when it comes to regulating things in the name of “fairness.” While the concerns behind the support for Net Neutrality are reasonable, when one looks at the government’s record historically on such matters, it is not at all unreasonable that so many conservatives are suspicious that Net Neutrality will just result in the exact opposite of what it is intended to accomplish.

  3. Free speech for all.
    Unless the government says otherwise, and the people will eat it, because it “seems” reasonable.
    This interpretation of ITAR is just another boot on the neck of The People.

  4. It almost sounds comical. Put up information on how to print a 3D gun on the Internet and you’re in violation of international law. Jeez. It’s not like it’s knowledge on how to build chemical weapons or something.

    Printing a 3D gun ought to fall squarely within one’s natural right to manufacture their own firearms and the knowledge to do so squarely within the right to free speech.

    3D-printed guns are good thing for the globe. They will aid people in oppressed countries in being able to make their own firearms to fight tyrants. Just as the printing press allowed the spread of knowledge, and the Internet even more knowledge, the 3D printer and 3D printed guns will allow the spread of arms.

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