Pennsylvania Lawsuit Forces Defense Distributed To Block PA Citizens
Defense Distributed’s settlement with the United States’ State Department has caused a whirlwind of emotions throughout the country. Defense Distributed creates downloadable files that give people the ability to print firearms. For second amendment proponents, the State Department settlement is nothing short of a victory in natural rights. But for others who take a hardline stance against guns, the decision to allow the files to be readily downloaded by anyone who chooses is both dangerous and provocative.
Defense Distributed’s 3D files have only been live since Friday, but since then, at least 1,000 people in Pennsylvania downloaded some version of the files.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf held an emergency hearing on Sunday evening with Federal Court. Alongside Pennsylvania State Police, the state effectively launched a lawsuit against Defense Distributed.
This resulted in Attorney Gen. Josh Shapiro announcing that Defense Distributed would block all Pennsylvania users from downloading the files.
The governor says that 3D gun files being placed in the hands of everyday citizens, without registration, “is too daunting to stand by and not take action.”
“These downloadable firearms were just about to be widely available online,” Shapiro said on Twitter. “It’s an existential threat to our state and we stepped in to stop it. The site is — and will remain — dark throughout” Pennsylvania.
Tonight, I went to court to prohibit access to new 3D-printable guns in PA.
These downloadable firearms were just about to be widely available online. It’s an existential threat to our state & we stepped in to stop it. The site is – & will remain – dark throughout PA. pic.twitter.com/A1siKeAf5a
— AG Josh Shapiro (@PAAttorneyGen) July 30, 2018
The state of Pennsylvania, under no uncertain terms, has now effectively censored the Internet. This is no different than censorship of information in China and Iran. The state decided that the common people should not be allowed access to information. This should make everyone feel uneasy, however, many people have fallen for the “more security means a less rights” pitch.
Defense Distributed, a company, owned by Cody Wilson, won their settlement with the State Department due to the implications such a ban would have on freedom of speech and freedom of information. The data that amounts to a file is not a weapon, rather, information that should be freely available.
Shapiro calling it an “existential threat to our state” misses the point of what a threat to a state is entirely. Freedom of speech and the right to bear arms abated in any fashion are the most significant threats to the people. We can’t give up rights under the guise of “protection and security” and expect to remain free.
The state of Pennsylvania ranks 5th in the nation for total guns in circulation, according to ATF statistics from 2017.
Defense Distributed is likely to triumph in their quest. You only have to look no further than their victory against the onslaught of litigation against the State Department to see their prowess for enduring such legal climates.
Back in June, the State Department settled their lawsuit with Defense Distributed after a 5-year battle. As of August 1, any company or person who wishes to share printable gun files will have such legal right.
However, many states are likely gearing up to follow in Pennsylvania’s path and attempt to litigate Defense Distributed into blocking access to the files.
The problems for states taking such measures, however, are monumental in capacity.
Defense Distributed, as pointed out earlier, is weathered when it comes to litigation. Any state challenging them is likely to absorb a fight in return. Additionally, the state will need to sue every company or person sharing printable gun files, a “daunting task” in and of itself, to steal a phrase from gov. Wolf.
The potential worst dilemma states will have is President Trump’s likely appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States. Alongside Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch, a heavily conservative-leaning SCOTUS is likely to rule consistently with the Constitution on issues of free speech and gun rights.
Freedom is certainly not always comfortable, particularly if we allow our local and federal government officials to always make us feel uneasy about what our neighbors have access to in terms of weapons or files to create weapons. But turning over that power to government is always a worse scenario. We certainly should not take comfort in allowing the government to choose what information citizens can view or download. I assure you, that won’t end well.
Author: Jim Satney
PrepForThat’s Editor and lead writer for political, survival, and weather categories.