With the backing of the Second Amendment Foundation, Cody Wilson, the pioneer designer who used 3D printing technology to create his trademark “Liberator” handgun has filed a lawsuit against the State Department over the agency’s determination the that publishing gun blueprints violates the Arms Export Control Act (AECA).
Wilson believes the State Department is exceeding its’ authority and stretching interpretation of the AECA law to impose the Obama Administration’s gun control agenda on private citizens in violation of the Second Amendment, First Amendment and Fifth Amendment rights and case law.
The lawsuit is the latest chapter in an ongoing dispute between Cody Wilson and the State Department going back years – back to 2013 when Wilson’s company created the world’s first 3D printed gun, the Liberator, and posted its designs online.
Wilson’s actions did not result in the export firearms or firearm components and that he obeyed the spirit and letter of the law. In an interview with Stephen Gutowski for the Washington Free Beacon, Wilson said:
“We were the first ones to really make a durable AR-15 receiver.” “And then we were the first ones to do the AR magazine, the AK magazine, and then we did the printed pistol.”
In May of 2013, the State Department sent Wilson’s company, Defense Distributed, a letter demanding they remove the plans from the Internet saying the company may be in violation of the Arms Export Control Act. Wilson reacted by saying:
“They actually didn’t even have any process to direct me to on this part of the lawsuit.”
“There wasn’t actually even a cease and desist, it was this kind of veiled threat demanding that I make some submissions to their agency and recognize their agency’s authority to claim commodity jurisdiction over the pieces.”
“So the ITAR [International Traffic in Arms Regulations] is the regulation they use.”
“We’re not talking about international treaty or like the UN arms trade treaty or any of these other things that are now coming in with like fast track and all that stuff. We’re talking about a set of regs.”
Wilson’s claim is simple. The State Department illegally expanded its power to regulate not just the international transfer of firearms themselves but any data related to firearms, regardless of whether they were privately developed or not.
“Essentially … the administration is saying that it owns all intellectual property related to guns,” he said.
The stakes for Wilson and Defense Distributed are high because Wilson faces “up to ten years in jail” for each instance where someone in another country downloaded the blueprints for his pistol creating “limitless liability” and an “infinite time in jail.”
In his lawsuit, which the gun rights group Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) has joined and is helping fund, Wilson is arguing that the State Department is in violation of not just the Second Amendment but also the First and Fifth Amendments. Wilson said:
“If you have speech about another right in the Bill of Rights, that speech is even more protected, just like speech about jury trials and speech about your Fourth Amendment (rights).”
“It’s super strict scrutiny, it’s like the strictest scrutiny if its speech about another protected right.”
The State Department has filed arguments opposing the suit that say Wilson and SAF are not suffering irreparable injury and whatever injury they may be experiencing is outweighed by “the threatened harm to the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States.”
The State Department and virtually any other government agency could trot out “national security” as a reason to justify any overreach in the interpretation of any law as any time – which is a pretty good definition of tyranny.