The state of New Jersey has always held the Second Amendment in contempt. Now, as evidenced by threats made by the Garden State’s Attorney General, Gurbir Grewal, against codeisfreespeech.com and their hosting service, it’s now clear how little regard they have for the First Amendment, too.
Last fall, New Jersey enacted a law targeting 3D printed guns. In an effort to flex his statist muscles, AG Grewal recently threatened to prosecute Cloudflare, where codeisfreespeech.com’s files are stored.
As reason.com reports, Grewal sent Cloudflare the following threat:
This is a notice to Cloudflare that you are serving files consisting of 3D printable firearms in violation of NJ Stat. Ann. § 2C:39-9 3(l)(2). These files are accessible via Cloudflare’s New Jersey datacenter. You shall delete all files described within 24 hours or we will be forced to press charges in order to preserve the safety of the citizens of New Jersey.
The new law makes it a crime to
…distribute by any means, including the Internet, to a person in New Jersey who is not registered or licensed as a manufacturer as provided in chapter 58 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes, digital instructions in the form of computer-aided design files or other code or instructions stored and displayed in electronic format as a digital model that may be used to program a three-dimensional printer to manufacture or produce a firearm, firearm receiver, magazine, or firearm component.
The law and Grewal’s threat to enforce it constitute an infringement on free speech rights. If New Jersey — or any other government agency — can decide that instructions for building a firearm aren’t protected free speech, there’s literally no limit to the First Amendment infringements that are possible. It’s the very definition of a slippery slope.
As a result, a lawsuit has been filed seeking a temporary restraining order and injunction against enforcement until the law’s constitutionality can be determined by the courts. The Second Amendment Foundation has just announced that they’ve signed onto the suit too, to support the efforts of the Firearms Policy Coalition, Firearms Policy Foundation, Calguns and others.
Here’s SAF’s press release:
SAF JOINS 1st AMENDMENT CHALLENGE TO NEW JERSEY 3-D CENSORSHIP LAW
BELLEVUE, WA – The Second Amendment today joined several other organizations in a lawsuit against New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against enforcement of provisions in a 2018 law that criminalizes constitutionally-protected speech.
SAF is joined by Defense Distributed, the Firearms Policy Coalition, Firearms Policy Foundation, Calguns Foundation, California Association Federal Firearms Licensees and a private citizen, Brandon Combs. They are represented by attorneys Chad Flores, Daniel Hammond and Hannah Roblyer of Beck Redden LLP in Houston and Daniel L. Schmutter of Hartman & Winnicki, P.C. in Ridgewood, N.J.
The lawsuit contends that after New Jersey lawmakers passed the new statute last November, Attorney General Grewal censored the plaintiffs’ free speech rights by threatening to jail them or anyone else that violates a section of the law that criminalizes distribution of digital instructions that may be used to produce a firearm with a three-dimensional printer.
“This isn’t about firearms, it’s about freedom of speech,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “If Attorney General Grewal can suppress the sharing of technical information about the production of firearms components using modern technology, what else might he, or another attorney general choose to suppress at some future date if he or she doesn’t like it?
“Section 3(I)(2) of the law doesn’t criminalize conduct,” he observed, “it criminalizes speech, the mere act of sharing information. We are hopeful the court will recognize the Orwellian nature of this prohibition and conclude, as we have, that it is an unconstitutional abridgement of protected speech.”
The lawsuit notes that all types of digital firearms information are censored, including computer aided design files and other code or instructions stored and displayed in electronic format as a digital model. Under the law, it does not matter whether anyone actually uses the information, only that it is available and “may be used.”
“With so much media attention on 3-D technology in recent months, the public has a right to know what the controversy is all about,” Gottlieb said. “But Grewal won’t allow that so we’re taking him to court.”