August 1, 2018

Targeting Free Speech in the Name of Gun Control

Are 3D guns going to become a deadly “public nuisance”? Several states say so.

The state of New Jersey has long been hostile to Second Amendment rights. Now, though, state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal is trying to silence the voice of a pro-Second Amendment organization by crying “public nuisance.” In fact, several states have sued to block the release of blueprints for 3D-printed guns, and a judge has agreed. The decision would be dangerous if it weren’t so laughable.

Here’s the deal: In June, Defense Distributed was able to force a settlement with the U.S. State Department following a five-year court battle. It started in 2013 when that company released the computer files to make a single-shot .380 ACP pistol that could be produced by a 3D printer. That pistol was called the Liberator. In two days, more than 100,000 copies of the design were downloaded, and the plans were posted on at least 4,000 other sites.

The Obama administration’s State Department took legal action to try and shut it down — in essence, threatening prosecution for violating arms-trafficking laws. But it was closing the barn door after the horses had made their getaway. Furthermore, other designs are emerging, as this incomplete list on Wikipedia shows.

To date, there has been no evidence that a 3D-printed gun has been misused to commit a crime. In fact, there are laws already on the books that make using a firearm — any firearm — in a crime an offense with serious jail time. 3D guns are not “undetectable” as Leftmedia reports lament, as there is a 1988 law outlawing such guns. And building your own firearm at home has been legal since our nation’s founding.

But that hasn’t stopped these states from trying to muzzle a pro-Second Amendment voice. We aren’t ever surprised about this sort of thing coming from the Left, which, more now than ever, is willing to use the power of the government to silence political opponents. Even the once-formidable free-speech defenders at the ACLU are choosing to be silent and, thus, complicit in that trend.

The public nuisance claim is particularly pernicious when we look at the Second Amendment. In the late 1990s, big-city mayors teamed up with trial lawyers to use the threat of massive legal fees to try to get firearms manufacturers to limit what they produced, even as supporters of the Second Amendment were winning legislative battles across the country.

This latest threat, though, is a slippery slope. Today, it may be Defense Distributed, but given Andrew Cuomo’s actions in New York, would we see other forms of pro-Second Amendment advocacy targeted as a “public nuisance”? We wish this wasn’t a viable worry, but the actions of some hard-left state attorneys general in recent years (not to mention Lois Lerner and the IRS scandal) indicate that it is.

When it comes right down to it, in their zeal to restrict Second Amendment rights, leftists are now placing a huge target on the First Amendment. This is a development that should frighten all Americans, no matter where they stand on gun control.

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