In brief: A settlement between the Trump administration and a gun technology company that allowed the latter to post blueprints of 3D-printed guns online has been ruled illegal.
Back in 2018, the Defense Department reached a deal as part of a settlement with non-profit Defense Distributed, which in 2013 claimed to have created the world’s first working 3D-printed pistol, the “Liberator.”
The Obama State Department had banned blueprints of 3D-printed guns being posted online, claiming it was a violation of export laws, but in July last year, the Justice Department settled a 2015 lawsuit with Defense Distributed, allowing the guns’ plans to be published.
Defense Distributed’s argument that banning the blueprints was a free speech violation hasn’t sat well with Judge Robert Lasnik, who yesterday said that the settlement deal was an “arbitrary and capricious” violation of the federal Administrative Procedure Act and the Constitution.
As the ruling was a summary judgment, the case will not go to trial, but Defense Distributed will appeal. “The First Amendment protects the freedom of speech from all abridgment, including indirect censorship efforts like this one,” Chad Flores, a lawyer for the company, told Bloomberg. “And states aren’t allowed to commandeer the federal government to do their unconstitutional bidding, even under the guise of statutory technicalities.”
Defense Distributed could use the same trick it did in the past to circumvent the ban. When the company was issued with an earlier injunction by a Seattle court, it used regular mail to send the blueprints directly to customers.