A federal judge denied 3D printed gun inventor Cody Wilson’s request for a preliminary injunction against the State Department after the agency forced him to remove gun designs from his company’s website.
Wilson’s lawsuit came after the State Department claimed the posting of designs for his 3D printed gun on his company’s website violated the Arms Export Control Act because they could be accessed outside of the United States. Wilson was joined in the suit by the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and together they argued the State Department was violating Wilson’s First, Second, and Fifth Amendment rights.
U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman disagreed in a ruling earlier this month. In the ruling, first reported by Reason‘s Brian Doherty, Judge Pitman said the plaintiffs did not meet the requirements necessary to secure a preliminary injunction against the State Department and were unlikely to succeed on the merits of the case.
Wilson took issue with the reasoning Judge Pitman used in his ruling. “I think the gun owning public would be incensed to learn the judge’s reasoning. He doubts there’s a right to own a firearm protected by the Constitution,” he said. “He considers it trivial to censor the speech online because we could use the mail or people could come in person to get the files from us. He thinks gun software development isn’t handicapped by being banned from the Internet because there’s still other means of communication.”
SAF’s founder said he didn’t like the ruling but was happy the case would now move through the court system faster. “It would have been better to win the preliminary injunction but this case now will move faster and we believe we will win it at the appeals court,” SAF founder Alan Gottlieb said. “The government would have liked to tie us up in the lower court for years.”
A State Department official said the case was about protecting Americans.
“The United States is cognizant of the potentially adverse consequences of indiscriminate arms transfers and, therefore strictly regulates exports of defense items and technologies to protect its national interests and the peace and security of the broader international community,” said the official. “At the end of the day, it’s about protecting U.S. national security by regulating foreign access to exports of U.S. defense articles and potentially sensitive defense manufacturing technologies that could be used by terrorists or other bad actors to harm Americans, including our troops serving overseas; as well as citizens from U.S. allies and partners around the world.”
Wilson said the case showed that the fight over the Second Amendment is still raging. “We’re like seven years after the Heller decision here and we’re still in the courts fighting over whether you have the right to buy a gun, like in Mance v. Holder case, or the right to even make one or talk about making one, in my case,” Wilson said. “I mean, this is crazy, man.”