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Online distribution of 3-D-printed gun models blocked by federal judge … for now

August 1, 2018

The ruling will halt the uploading of digital gun designs that can assist DIY gun makers.

Some background: In 2013, Cody Wilson, the founder of Defense Distributed, uploaded on his website the design files he used to create the first fully 3-D-printed gun. Soon after, the US State Department forced him to take the models down. He revealed last month that after a long legal battle, he had settled with the Department of Justice and could now legally share gun models online, citing his First Amendment right to share information.

Not so fast: There was immediate pushback. Attorneys general from eight states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit to force the Trump administration to stop the sharing of gun plans online. But President Donald Trump didn’t seem too concerned. He tweeted yesterday, “I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!”

But: In the midst of the pushback, Wilson decided to post the models online early in advance of the August 1 deadline he had publicized for their release. Thousands of people downloaded the models in the first few days.

The latest: Yesterday, a federal judge in Seattle granted a temporary nationwide injunction that will prevent the models from being posted online. The judge said lawyers had established “a likelihood of irreparable harm” and that any First Amendment issues could be resolved later. In response, Wilson has taken down his site and models, but he will be continuing the legal fight. A follow-up hearing will be held August 10.

A PR boost: All this attention could help Wilson in the long run. His company, Defense Distributed, creates machines that help DIY gun makers take advantage of the 3-D models he is pushing to release. If he does get legal permission to share the models online after all, he could have a bigger platform on which to sell his manufacturing equipment.

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