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Defense Distributed agrees to block sales of 3D gun blueprints in 3 areas

July 31, 2018

A lawyer for a Texas company that published online blueprints to make 3D prints of guns said Monday the company temporarily has blocked access in several states that have complained, as it prepared for a massive legal battle.

The company, Defense Distributed, says its blueprints are protected free speech and are legal, and it filed a lawsuit over the weekend against New Jersey and Los Angeles, seeking a judge’s final approval to offer the plans in those jurisdictions.

In the meantime, the company agreed to block sales to users with IP addresses from Los Angeles, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Josh Blackman, one of the company’s attorneys, called the Pennsylvania decision a “voluntary concession” and vowed to see his opponents in court.

The company’s opponents, meanwhile, filed a series of lawsuits seeking to block Defense Distributed from posting the plans online.

The blueprints went online last week after the company reached a deal with the Trump administration in June. The administration had agreed to reverse an Obama-era ruling that offering blueprints for 3D-printed weapons violated export rules.

Cody Wilson, the company’s founder, says he has a First Amendment right to post the blueprints for how to craft untraceable, homemade 3D-printed guns.

People also cannot exercise their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms without being able to buy or make their own firearms, said Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, a gun-rights group that’s a part of the lawsuit.

“People publish all sorts of information online, but because this case involves technical information on production of firearm components on a 3D printer, these anti-rights officials are trying to squelch it. We cannot allow this to happen,” Mr. Gottlieb said.

The company’s website includes several membership offers, for as little as $5 a month.

Furious Democratic lawmakers at the state and national levels have tried to run interference.

A coalition of Democrat-run states and the District of Columbia sued Monday to try to block sales of the plans, while some Democrats on Capitol Hill announced they’re writing legislation to outlaw such sales, saying the blueprints will make it easier for bad actors to obtain guns without going through background checks.

Mr. Blackman, meanwhile, filed his lawsuit in federal court in Texas, demanding a judge head off the threats of legal action. The lawsuit names New Jersey and Los Angeles, and Mr. Blackman says he plans to add Pennsylvania.

“Anyone who wants to sue us, we will add you as a party to our Texas lawsuit,” said Mr. Blackman. “If you want to violate my client’s rights, we’ll see you in court.”

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer’s office said they had no comment on the lawsuit, but New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal appeared to welcome it.

“Yesterday, @DefDist sued me for trying to keep untraceable guns out of the hands of terrorists and criminals. So be it. I’m not backing down on public safety,” Mr. Grewal tweeted Monday.

Mr. Grewal’s office also filed its lawsuit Monday in Superior Court in Essex County in a bid to block Defense Distributed from posting the plans online, arguing that the company is running afoul of New Jersey state public nuisance law.

The complaint includes a testimonial from Christopher Donohue, a deputy chief of detectives in the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, saying it was still possible as of Sunday to log on to the Defense Distributed website using a smartphone while in New Jersey.

“Even were Defense Distributed’s controls effective, that does not fix the problem,” Chief Donohue said. “I still would be able to travel to the State of New York quickly, download the code one time, return to New Jersey, and print the 3D guns in New Jersey indefinitely.”

Mr. Grewal was one of 21 state attorneys general who signed a letter Monday to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking them to withdraw the settlement. Mr. Pompeo told lawmakers on Capitol Hill last week that he would look into the matter.

Several gun control groups had petitioned a federal court in Texas last week to block Mr. Wilson from posting the files, but the case was set aside on procedural grounds.

The company had touted Wednesday as an informal “relaunch” date, but Mr. Wilson started posting the plans online Friday after that ruling, Mr. Blackman said.

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