Fate of 3-D printed pistol to be decided

Cody Wilson holds a 3D printed pistol

Cody Wilson, inventor of the 3D printed Liberator pistol. (Photo: The Statesman)

A Texas court heard argument Monday calling the U.S. Department of State out for its censorship of online plans for a 3-D printable firearm.

Attorneys for Defense Distributed filed a motion for preliminary injunction to halt enforcement of “any prepublication approval requirement against unclassified information under the International Traffic Arms Regulations,” which seeks to control the export of defense-related technology.

The federal government recently added a provision to the regulations which would include the control of technical data.

“I can imagine any number of ways this might get decided and … the judge could imagine a few others,” lead attorney Alan Gura told Guns.com. “There’s really no way to predict the outcome.”

Should the court grant the injunction, it will be a big win for Defense Distributed, who could then repost blueprints for the “Liberator,” a printed, single shot pistol the group released in May 2013.

“We get to be the spear tip on this one, but we’ve got a team that can take it all the way,” Cody Wilson, founder of Defense Distributed, previously told Guns.com.

Wilson teamed up with the Second Amendment Foundation to sue the State Department after it ordered the gun rights activist remove the pistol plans from his website, stating “the United States government claims control of the information.”

Gun rights advocates claim the executive department violated Wilson’s rights to free speech and due process. 

“Americans have always been free to exchange information about firearms and manufacture their own arms,” said Alan Gottlieb, SAF executive vice president. “We also have an expectation that any speech regulations be spelled out clearly, and that individuals be provided basic procedural protections if their government claims a power to silence them.”

Wilson’s pistol gained attention instantly, with its blueprints downloaded almost 100,000 times in the first two days of its release. Though Defense Distributed took its Liberator files offline, the blueprints persist on torrent sites across the Internet and out of the U.S. government’s reach.