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Originally published May 16 2015

3D-printed gun designer sues federal government over constitutional violations

by J. D. Heyes

(NaturalNews) The designer of a 3D-printed firearm is in trouble with Uncle Sam, but he's not rolling over. He's fighting back.

Cody Wilson, founder of Defense Distributed, was inspired to make this huge advance in the digital revolution and dropped out of law school in order to pursue it, as reported by Fox News. His vision was to create and share the blueprints for his 3D weapon on the internet.

Under the mantle of the "Wiki Weapons project," Wilson designed "The Liberator," the nation's first pistol built exclusively on a 3D printer consisting of 12 separate parts made from plastic and a single metal firing pin. His dream was to enable those suffering under arcane gun control laws the freedom to build some form of constitutional protection.

As Fox News further reported:

Within two days of publishing the blueprints on the Internet, on May 5, 2013, 100,000 people around the world had downloaded them. The goal, Wilson said, was to invalidate the government's "unconstitutional" hold on gun technology.

"The technology will break gun control," said Wilson, who formed the non-profit organization Defense Distributed with partner Ben Denio in Little Rock, Arkansas, in the summer of 2012. "I stand for freedom."

Penalized for trying to educate people

However, the design and invention caught the attention of the U.S. Department of State, and officials there came at him with a vengeance. Federal officials accused Wilson of violating the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, which "requires advance government authorization to export technical data." As a result, Wilson could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted and be fined up to $1 million per violation.

The government ordered the designer to remove the blueprints for his handgun from the web site he created. Moreover, federal officials said the government was going to take ownership of his intellectual property.

"Defense Distributed is being penalized for trying to educate the public about 3-D guns," Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Washington-based Second Amendment Foundation, told Fox News. The organization is supporting Defense Distributed in a court action.

He noted that his gun rights organization, which has 650,000 members, wants to publish information about the printing of 3D firearms on its own web site as educational materials for its members, supporters and the general public.

The organization recently filed a federal lawsuit in Texas, where Defense Distributed is currently based, naming the State Department, Secretary of State John F. Kerry, and four additional State Department officials along with the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, for allegedly violating Wilson's First Amendment rights in preventing him from publishing his information. The suit also claims violations of Wilson's Second and Fifth Amendment due process rights.

Texas Attorney Josh Blackman, one of the lawyers representing Wilson, said 3D printers could lead to an eventual "renaissance of innovation" and said "the government should tread carefully in restricting this technology to protect intellectual property."

"Let technology and our constitutional rights be free," Blackman added.

The design of The Liberator caused much consternation, said Blackman, pointing to U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, D-New York, who has introduced a bill that would ban the production of 3D guns, at least by individuals.

"We're facing a situation where anyone -- a felon, a terrorist -- can open a gun factory in their garage and the weapons they make will be undetectable. It's stomach-churning," Schumer said at a news conference in May 2013.

Not really that much of a threat

Blackman told Fox News that the threat was wildly overblown but typical of gun control lawmakers like Schumer to suggest.

"Contrary to Schumer's suggestion, a working gun does not pop out of the 3-D printer ready to fire, like a pop-tart from the toaster," Blackman said. "Using a 3-D printer to create the parts, and assemble them, is a time-intensive process that requires advanced knowledge of machining and gunsmithing."

Defense Distributed had released its blueprints at no charge until it was ordered by the State Department to remove them. The firm began selling a $1,500 milling machine in 2013 called the "Ghost Gunner."

"With Defense Distributed software, the milling machine allows the user to build the plastic lower receiver for an AR-15 rifle, one of America's most popular sporting rifles, and because it is self built, allows the owner to avoid registering the firearms with a government database," Fox News reported.

Other lawmakers have introduced bills that would require purchasers of metal printers that can build firearms to register them like they would a real gun.


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