The Department of Justice has reached a settlement with the Second Amendment Foundation over the distribution of plans to make 3D printed firearms. Under the terms of the agreement, plans for 3D gun parts can be distributed freely online.
The settlement also stated that the Department of Justice did not consider an AR-15 rifle to be an inherently military weapon.
Cody Wilson designed and printed his own gun on a 3D printer. Then he decided to share the plans on the internet. While it is still illegal to distribute plans for an entire 3D printed gun on the internet, plans for all the parts can be distributed freely. These parts can then be printed and assembled into a working firearm.
In addition to plans for working guns, including one he designed himself and dubbed “The Liberator” after a classic World War II firearm, Wilson also designed and distributed plans for other gun parts, including high-capacity magazines. He created an organization called Defense Distributed to help distribute these blueprints.
In an interview with TheBlaze in January 2013, Wilson admitted that the ability to make these undetectable weapons made existing gun regulations essentially ineffective.
In May 2013, the State Department’s Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance ordered Defense Distributed to immediately stop distributing any and all plans for guns and parts. The nonprofit Second Amendment Foundation filed a lawsuit on behalf of Wilson in May 2015.
On Tuesday, the Department of Justice and SAF reached a settlement in the lawsuit. As part of the settlement, Wilson will be allowed to once again distribute his 3D printed gun files online. The federal government will also have to pay a portion of Wilson’s legal fees.
Notably, the settlement also stated that it was the DOJ’s position that AR-15s and similar semiautomatic rifles were not considered military weapons.
Wilson argued that his distribution of gun plans is protected by both the First and Second Amendments. Critics point out that criminals and cartels could use the plans to quickly and easily print undetectable guns instead of having to purchase or smuggle them.
Glenn Beck interviewed Wilson in 2013, and asked him whether he considered himself to be a hero or a villain. Wilson said that he didn’t “like the dichotomy” of having just those two choices.
You can watch that interview below: