Anti-gun attorneys general lose again in long-running fight over 3-D printing

Second Amendment advocates who have been fighting, for nearly a decade, for their right under the First Amendment to post online various instructions for 3-D computer printing a single-shot gun are claiming victory in ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

That decision reverses a maneuver by the attorney general from New Jersey to separate out his arguments in the case from other attorneys general and move that portion of the case to New Jersey.

The case was filed in Texas, and the appeals court ruled that it must all be returned there and consolidated.

The fight involves instructions to computer print a gun, but it uniquely revolves around the First Amendment because of the government’s suppression of speech in the fight.

The case was brought by the Second Amendment Foundation and Defense Distributed, which had posted online the instructions.

The organizations explained a district court order had wrongly severed the case against the New Jersey AG from a lawsuit filed by the plaintiffs.

“It’s a huge victory for us,” said SAF founder Alan M. Gottlieb, “because New Jersey wanted to be severed from our legal action in their effort to prevent publication of the information by Defense Distributed, thus violating the company’s and SAF’s First Amendment rights to promote the exercise of Second Amendment rights.”

The war erupted when anti-gun-rights attorneys general, led by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson at the time, filed suit in the Western District of Washington to enjoin the State Department from authorizing the release of Defense Distributed’s files on the internet.

That plan was part of a settlement from a previous SAF and Defense Distributed lawsuit over the speech restrictions.

Then-New Jersey AG Gurbir Grewal and others had schemed to prevent the distribution of the First Amendment-protected information about the 3D printing program.

The court’s majority opinion author, Circuit Judge Edith H. Jones, said, “Correctly assessed, the NJAG did not carry its burden to clearly demonstrate that transfer is clearly more appropriate than the plaintiffs’ choice of forum. The district court erred legally and factually in virtually every aspect of this issue, and its decision, which has unnecessarily lengthened this litigation even more, represents a clear abuse of discretion for which mandamus is an appropriate remedy.”

An earlier ruling by a Fifth Circuit panel held that the NJAG is “subject to the jurisdiction of Texas courts” in this case because Defense Distributed is a Texas-based company.

“This case has dragged on for years,” Gottlieb noted. “What today’s ruling clearly demonstrates is that attorneys general who violate our First and Second amendment rights will be held to answer by the courts, wherever the violations occur.

“NJAG wanted their case severed and transferred,” he added, “and now that will not happen. It’s unfortunate that justice has been delayed so long. It’s time to move forward. This is a case we fully expect to totally win.”

The case has been around long enough that it’s been in multiple courts already. Earlier the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals drubbed the anti-gun attorneys general by canceling an injunction against the posting of the information.

Originally, 22 state attorneys general and the AG for the District of Columbia sued over an agreement between the State and Commerce departments and SAF and Defense Distributed allowing the posting of data relating to 3-D printing of firearms.

Courthousenews had reported that the administration in Washington, under Joe Biden, is expected to renew the attack on 3-D printed gun files.

At one point even the U.S. Supreme Court reject3ed a demand by the New Jersey official to intervene.

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This article was originally published by the WND News Center.

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