CHICAGO — A Texas man on Tuesday began selling digital gun-making blueprints, including for a 3D-printed plastic handgun, despite a judge’s order barring the distribution of the material.
Cody Wilson had initially published the downloadable files on his website four weeks ago, after a deal struck with the Donald Trump administration that ended the federal government’s efforts to block him.
Wilson’s actions caused a political firestorm, and even prompted Trump to tweet that making gun blueprints easily available online "doesn’t seem to make much sense!"
Multiple states filed a joint lawsuit claiming Wilson endangered public safety. One of the homemade weapons could evade metal detectors and all lacked traceable serial numbers.
A federal judge issued a temporary order on July 31 barring the distribution of the digital blueprints, and on Monday extended that order until the states’ lawsuit is adjudicated.
Wilson told a news conference Tuesday that he interpreted the judge’s ruling as only barring the free online distribution of the blueprints. He instead began to offer the files for sale, and promised to send physical copies on flash drives or by email.
Visitors to his online marketplace, which was once again active on Tuesday, could name their own price for the information.
"Everyone in America who wants these files will get them," Wilson said.
"I’m happy now to become the iTunes of downloadable guns, if I can’t be the Napster."
Wilson insisted that the digital files had already been available elsewhere online for years, and that barring him from distributing the content was akin to free speech censorship.
"What’s at stake in the courts is simply the government is trying to tell you what you can and can’t have, what you can and can’t download online," he said.
Seattle-based US District Judge Robert Lasnik said in his Monday ruling that free speech rights were "dwarfed" by the harm that Wilson’s actions could cause.
"The very purpose for which the private defendants seek to release this technical data is to arm every citizen outside of the government’s traditional control mechanisms of licenses, serial numbers, and registration," Lasnik wrote in his ruling.
"It is the untraceable and undetectable nature of these small firearms that poses a unique danger."
The Washington state attorney general, who is leading the multi-state lawsuit, responded to Wilson’s latest move by reiterating that it was "again illegal to post downloadable gun files to the internet."
"I trust the federal government will hold Cody Wilson, a self-described ’crypto-anarchist,’ accountable to that law," Bob Ferguson said. — AFP