Cody Wilson Sues State Department

Two years ago, Defense Distributed was preempted by the state Department from posting├é┬áplans for the Liberator Pistol online, arguing they were a controlled munition. Many of us in the tech business got a strong case of deja vu, remembering a similar government assertion in the 1990s that didn’t end up going all that well for the government.

In that grand tradition, Cody Wilson of Defense distributed has filed suit against the State Department, arguing First Amendment grounds. Lest anyone think this is some kind of fringe suit, it has the backing of SAF, and Alan Gura is among the attorneys on the case.

The New York Times describes this as “trailblazing,” but really this is just a continuation of the argument that happened over encryption in the 1990s. I predict this will not go well for the government. It shouldn’t go well for the government.

16 thoughts on “Cody Wilson Sues State Department”

  1. Problem here is I don’t think either NRA or NSSF understand the ramifications of the issue from a technology standpoint.

      1. If you can 3D print any sort of gun or accessory you want, cheaply and anonymously and totally customized any way you want, what happens to current law?

        Using CO as an example, if I can produce a 30rd magazine in the privacy of my own home for about $1 worth of filament, why should I care what the law says? I could make them in quantity and leave them in boxes with “Free Magazines!” written on it all over the place. In a way that is what happened with PGP.

        1. I think that implication is obvious. I just don’t think lawmakers care. Their attachment to gun control is emotional, not rational. They aren’t going to repeal their symbolic laws just because they have become even more useless than they were when they were passed.

          1. To you and I and other techies it’s obvious. To the lobbyists and lawyers at NRA & NSSF I’m not so sure. I have not seen any statement from either embracing the tech as a natural evolution of 2A.

            1. Why would they say anything about it? It’s legal. Raising awareness is just going to mean having to fight over it with scared or hostile lawmakers. What’s the upside?

              1. They are going to have to say something eventually as there is legislation at the state and federal level to prohibit 3D guns as untraceable/undetectable. If guns don’t have to be made of metal, they are going to have to come out in support of untraceable/undetectable guns. If anyone can make a gun, they are going to have to come out against background checks as pointless. If anyone can make a machine gun, they are going to have to support fully legalizing them.

  2. Cody Wilson is one of the best rabble rousers we’ve seen in awhile.

    1st, 2nd, and 5th amendment claims.

    More $$$ for DD and SAF from Uncle Sam would be nice.

    The State Department is also claiming that the software for the Ghost Gunner CNC machine is also a controlled item.

    They are seriously claiming CNC machining code is a weapon.

    1. In legal sense under ITAR they may very well we right. ITAR has all sorts of crazy definitions rolled up in it’s restrictions.

      Doesn’t mean ITAR is legal though, which is why I expect a gov’t loss.

  3. It seems ludicrous to me that ITAR would cover the plans to manufacture a single shot essentially disposable pistol. Oddly enough though, it seems that even single shot firearms are included, except for “any non-combat shotgun with a barrel length of 18 inches or longer, BB, pellet, and muzzle loading (black powder) firearms.”

    I’ve been saying from the beginning that Wilson should have made the gun a muzzleloader: The lower pressures make the engineering easier, muzzleloaders aren’t subject to the metal detector detectability requirement, and they aren’t subject to ITAR.

      1. Maybe, but think about this: What is the functional difference between a gun that shoots one metallic cartridge and then needs to be partially disassembled to reload, and one that shoots a caseless cartridge (ie., a projectile glued to something like a Pyrodex pellet) with a separate primer? Both would be equally deadly, but the muzzleloading one would actually reload faster: Just pop a projectile/pellet combo down the bore and shove it in with a stick, and then prime with a percussion cap of some sort.

        The lack of a metallic cartridge casing reduces the amount of metal, as would using a non-metallic projectile (maybe a marble?). Given some clever work with toy caps, you might even make the entire gun/propellant/projectile assembly completely non-metallic. Some of the early percussion guns used a roll of paper tape with priming compound, like the old cap guns of our youth, so with a mechanism like that you could probably reload and fire within 5 seconds or even less with practice.

        Once guns like that are in circulation (including revolver or pepperbox versions that would fire just as fast as modern revolvers: Think reverse speed loaders, ones that grab the bullet instead of the case), it would be a fait accompli: There would be no real difference between those and modern firearms of the same approximate design.

        Added bonus: The corrosive effects of black powder and black powder substitutes like Pyrodex and TripleSe7en mean nothing to plastic.

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