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Judge rebukes state AG in 3-D gun case

A federal judge has rebuked the attorney general for the state of Washington, Bob Ferguson, for overstepping his authority in the ongoing fight over the rights of private companies to make available 3-D printer plans for printing handguns.

District Judge Robert S. Lasnik told Ferguson’s office that its lawyers cannot require the Second Amendment Foundation and the private company Defense Distributed to answer its questions in a lawsuits over the issue.

The state had filed a lawsuit against the State Department related to the publication of information about 3-D guns.

The action was brought against the federal government, SAF and Defense Distributed, which is the source of computer design data related to the guns.

The state had submitted a motion that demanded answers to various questions as part of discovery in the lawsuit.

However, Lasnik’s four-page ruling said that’s not going to happen.

The judge reminded Ferguson that when a preliminary order was issued last August, it was not against the private defendants in the case, only the federal government.

Lasnik noted: “The injunction issued in this case regulates the acts or omissions of the federal defendants: it imposes no duties or restrictions on the private defendants, but rather reinstates the pre-July 27, 2018, regulatory scheme related to access, discussion, use, and reproduction of the CAD files. Plaintiffs did not request relief from or against the private defendants, and the court made clear at oral argument that the injunction itself did not require the private defendants to take or refrain from any activities.”

The judge reminded Ferguson that the private defendants “are no more subject to the preliminary injunction than is any other person contemplating the export of computer data files that would allow the creation of guns and their components with a 3D printer.”

“We’re glad Judge Lasnik reminded Ferguson’s office that they can’t change the rules and ask for more than they originally agreed to,” said SAF founder Alan M. Gottlieb. “As the judge noted in his ruling today, we haven’t violated any term or condition of the original order, and trying to make it appear that way by seeking to expand the scope of the injunction seems like legal harassment to us.”

SAF also is suing New Jersey Attorney General Gurbig Grewal over the state’s attempts to criminalize constitutionally protected speech.

SAF said its lawyers are targeting a new law in the state “that prohibits any kind of publication or distribution of information relating to 3-D printing of firearms components.”

That case was brought by SAF, Defense Distributed, the Firearms Policy Coalition Inc., Firearms Policy Foundation, the Calguns Foundation, California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees Inc. and an individual citizen, Brandon Combs.

“Essentially,” said Gottlieb, “we’re being censored and our First Amendment rights are being violated. If this law isn’t challenged, it will have a chilling effect on any kind of firearms-related speech by anyone in New Jersey or who communicates to anyone living in the state.”

He continued: “This case isn’t about guns. It’s about speech and the First Amendment, not the Second. When this law was passed, it appears that New Jersey lawmakers in their zeal forgot that speech is a protected right as well.”

Last year, when the case was filed, WND reported New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed Senate Bill 2465, which is specifically aimed at censoring SAF and Defense Distributed, SAF contends.

In September, SAF added four states and a number of individuals as defendants to its lawsuit.

The issue isn’t new. The Department of Justice and Defense Distributed already had settled a case in which the DOJ objected to the online sharing of 3D firearms plans.

The settlement of that lawsuit would allow Defense Distributed to post its computer files online.

However, prior to the Aug. 1 effective date for the resolution, other governmental units launched their own lawsuits.