Cody Wilson

Defense Distributed Sues New Jersey, Los Angeles Over Legal Threats

The authorities threatened the gun-making software and hardware company. Now the company is striking back, citing its First and Second Amendment rights.


Defense Distributed, founded by Cody Wilson, provides the means for people to make weapons at home via software and 3D-printing and milling machines. Today that company, along with the Second Amendment Foundation, has sued the attorney general of New Jersey and the city attorney of Los Angeles.

Mark McDaniel/Reason

Gurbir S. Grewal, the attorney general of New Jersey, sent a threatening letter to Defense Distributed last week that claimed the company's "plans to allow anyone with a 3D printer to download a code and create a fully operational gun directly threatens the public safety of New Jersey's residents….Posting this material online is no different than driving to New Jersey and handing out hard-copy files on any street corner."

Grewal ordered the company "to cease and desist from publishing printable-gun computer files for use by New Jersey residents….Should you fail to comply with this letter, my Office will initiate legal action barring you from publishing these files before August 1, 2018."

Defense Distributed's legal right to post its information was won by the company via settlement this month after a long legal battle with the federal government. Before that settlement, the feds essentially wanted to treat the act of hosting or distributing such files as illegal arms exporting.

Defense Distributed informed Grewal on Friday that "all actions contemplated by Defense Distributed are fully protected by the First Amendment, and [Grewal's] attempts to prevent such actions constitute an unconstitutional prior restraint and otherwise violate the United States Constitution and the New Jersey Constitution."

It reinforced that argument with today's suit against Grewal and Michael Feuer, city attorney of Los Angeles, who issued a similar threat against Wilson's company last week. The lawsuit calls the officials' efforts "an ideologically-fueled program of intimidation and harassment."

The suit asserts that the threats from New Jersey and Los Angeles

violate the First Amendment speech rights of Defense Distributed and its audience, including [the Second Amendment Foundation's] members; run afoul of the Dormant Commerce Clause; infringe upon the Second Amendment rights of those who would make use of the knowledge disseminated by Defense Distributed; constitute a tortious interference with Defense Distributed's business; and are in any event, federally pre-empted by Congress's export control laws as well as Defense Distributed's export license, by which the State Department has explicitly authorized the speech that the Defendants are seeking to silence. Plaintiffs are entitled to declaratory and injunctive relief, damages, and attorney fees.

Josh Blackman, one of Defense Distributed's lawyers, adds via email that "States do not have the power to censor speech or commerce in other states, especially when that commerce is licensed by the federal government."

Cody Wilson announced via twitter today that his Defcad website is currently not accessible in New Jersey. This is at this point his own choice, given the legal threat he faces, a threat he hopes to eliminate with this lawsuit.

UPDATE: Within an hour before filing the above lawsuit, Defense Distributed was informed by the state of Pennsylvania that it was seeking a temporary restraining order in federal court to stop it from distributing weapon-making files in that state. During an emergency telephone hearing before U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond (which lawyer Josh Blackman had to participate in from a United Airlines lounge at LaGuardia Airport), Defense Distributed agreed to, at least through next week, voluntarily block Pennsylvania I.P. addresses until the legal issue can be resolved. As Wilson told, despite that, he will "fight any effort by state officials to seek a permanent ban. 'Americans have the right to this data, Wilson said. 'We have the right to share it. Pennsylvania has no right to come in and tell us what we can and can't share on the internet.'"

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  1. Posting this material online is no different than driving to New Jersey and handing out hard-copy files on any street corner.

    Which would, of course, also be legal.

    1. Well yeah, but require cutting down a BUNCH of trees, and a whole lot of data entry.
      Those files have a boatload of ones and zeros, man.

      1. Yeah, if you really just had to put it on paper, punch cards would be the way to go.

        1. Nice thought.
          Amazon has all kinds of books about them, and even a few of the old keypunch machines, but no cards at all.
          You would have to first manufacture the cards, refurbish the machines, and then, oops, find an old mainframe to hook it up to.
          Maybe somewhere in the middle or far east they still use that stuff.
          The constitutional fights are cheaper.

          1. I remember my first programming course, in High School. The instructor assured us that if all else failed, we could make a good income on our keypunch skills.

            1. that was true, right up until about 1975 or 1976 when the first mag card machines came out…

    2. The argument is probably going to be that offering the files for download counts as firearm distribution across state lines, and he doesn’t have a license to do that.

      The export control argument was much more plausible, and that didn’t prevail, so this one probably won’t either. But they can make this guy’s life hell in the mean time.

      1. Except AFAIK DefDist has an FFL, so they should be able to engage in interstate gun commerce

        1. If it actually were commerce in guns, by law *both* sides of the transaction would have to have the license for an interstate transaction to be legal. Which is why, when you order a gun from out of state, you get it mailed to an FFL holder.

          Mind, this is itself a constitutional abomination, and maybe getting that overturned would be the best FU to these states.

          1. Lest we forget; one can order almost every part needed to produce a firearm without an FFL. One can also find, both free & for a price, numerous articles on the construction of a firearm with or without a CNC machine. Hell, one can purchase an 80% complete AR lower without an FFL and finish it with hand tools and a little skill.

      2. So blueprints=gun? If I had the blueprints for an aircraft carrier, could I land a plane on it? Will the blueprints for a hydrogen bomb be radioactive?

  2. As a New Jersey resident Fuck you Turban man

    1. As a New Jersey resident, aren’t you getting amtrifle tired of living in a Peoples’ Republic? Vote with your feet.

      1. As someone who has never been a New Jersey resident, why man, why? Get out while you can.

      2. I’m planning on it as soon as I’m out of college I’m perusing liberty

  3. The thuggishness of the left continues.

  4. Finally, corporations are beginning to fight back at government abuses.
    Now if all gun manufacturers would refuse to sell to the state and local governments where the second amendment is infringed, as Barrett did in California, we might have a chance to remain a free country of laws.

    1. That would be pretty swank. Tell NJ cops, “No more Glocks for you.”

    2. Unfortunately, Barrett still sells their 338 Lapua in CA, probably along with other guns. It would have been nice had they cut them off entirely.

  5. Looks like an excellent test case for Defense Distributed. He’s got a winner of a lawsuit, and the precedent should take care of cities and states elsewhere, too.

    They were trying to intimidate him? Looks like he’s gonna turn it around and make an example of out them.

    Moral of the story?

    Maybe it’s better for a city or state to think twice before fucking with Cody Wilson. That dude’s got his shit together.

    1. Except that there are exactly zero negative consequences for the AG to make that threat. It doesn’t matter how badly he loses, he scores political points and the taxpayers take it in the shorts for any penalties.

      1. While I’d love to see the AG be personally bankrupt over this, I’ll happily settle for bankrupting the state of New Jersey and seeing their taxes double or triple to pay off lawsuits like this. New Jersey residents keep electing these idiots, make them pay big time.

      2. I don’t think wasting a bunch of money and effort on a loser of a case is a sure way to the governor’s mansion.

        He’s making a fool of himself, and if the case gets cited as letting Cody Wilson sells what he wants in another 50 states, this AG is gonna look like an even bigger fool.

        1. Governors mansion? Try white house. Look at the asshat kamela Harris. Threatened non profits and even counter political groups to send her office donor lists while she was running for Congress! Liberals love authoritarian bullshit.

          1. It’s not authoritarian if you’re harassing Rich Whitey. It’s “Justice”!

      3. could be enough to tip the scales for some.

      4. sue those two corrupt attorneys general in theie PERSONAL capacity, go after their personal bonds and nsurance for the harm they are PERSONALLY doing to DefDistributed, and for the financial harm they are causing along with the lawyer’s fees.

        Then bring a criminal actioin against both for felony perjury.. swearing an oath to uphold the US Constitituon when they took office, then failing/refusing to honour their oaths. Conviction for something like this will end their poitical careers, and rightly so.

    2. Your lips to Krishna’s ears, but I don’t see how the First Amendment argument would hold water. CAD files are not intended for a human to read or listen to, so how could it be considered speech or even expression? Is malware speech? Are hacking commands speech?

      1. CAD files can be rendered, and the object they contain displayed and manipulated. As such, it’s clearly expression. The argument that the object structural storage format isn’t speech is like arguing that a political article isn’t speech because it’s written in MS Word and a .doc file is not human readable in a text editor.

      2. That CAD files are copyrighted says your analysis is flawed.

        1. EVERY type of content is copywrighted the moment it is created, and is owned by the creator. This sentence I just created IS copywrighted and I own that copywright. My brother is an architect, and writes in CAD constantly. HE OWNS the copywright of all he creates on that computer. Try and build his building design without paying him for the use of that design and he’ll retire off what you will be forced to pay. Defense Distibuted’s ownership position on those files is no different. As such copywrighted work, those files ARE “expressiom” the same as if he’d committed the drawings to paper. Storage, retrieval, translating into a different form, are not at issue. The information conveyed IS at issue. And THAT is protected content, and cannot be controlled. If he had files containing child pornography that CONTENT would be in violation of law, and he subject to indictment. Proof his content IS expression, for which he COULD face prosecution if it were of certain subject matter.

          The problem with Joisey and lost Angeless is that they object to the content, but cannot establish that it is prohibited. So they are trying to sidestep that niggly detail and prosecute anyway. If I were DD I’d refuse to block IP’s from those areas until a court orders it blocked. I’d think there is also an INterstate COmmerce issue here, too.. New Jersey blocking content THEY don’t like coming from anohter state where it is legal.

      3. By that logic, the string of ones and zeros that are your post are not speech, and you can be prohibited from posting anything at all anywhere on the web, by a state government that does not like what your string of ones and zeros represents.

      4. “Is malware speech?” Yes.
        “Are hacking commands speech?” Yes.

        That does not necessarily make them protected speech but they most definitely are considered speech under US law and Supreme Court precedent.

        re: CAD files – you’re wrong about your basic premise. They are every bit as intended for human consumption and understanding as any text-based paragraph. Do they require a software program to interpret? Generally, yes. And so do most digital books. (And like digital books, there really are a few wonks who can translate the binary directly into a more common language.)

      5. that First Article of Ammendment does not ONLY deal with “speech”, and even if it did ONLY, “speech” can take many forms…… what we are doing right here this instant is conversing (transferring thoughts, ideas, information) via digits, no sound or paper involved. That Article also includes freedom of association, of the press, of belief…… surely those digital files, whether transmitted electronically or recorded onto a DVD and physically distributed, are protected. If I have the right (and I do) to take a DVD recording of a feature length film, wrap it up, put it into a cover, affix proper postage, and then transmit it via the Post Office, then I also have the right to transmit that same data over the internet, hand it face to face, package and well it at WalMart, upload it to the cloud and grant access to whoomever I choose, and on whatever basis I choose…. for the sake of this example, the feature length film in question is a work I created entirely and thus own it.

        How are the files to make a gun via CNC or other “language’ any different? These clowns are attempting to make an issue of the CONTENT in that data file. Sorry, the content ain’t child porn, thus it is not prohibited by (illegal) federal law.

  6. Cody Wilson announced via twitter today that his Defcad website is currently not accessible in New Jersey.

    How did he do that? Does NJ have its own IPv6 range?

    1. It wasn’t him. Everyone in NJ made a pinky swear not to look until the government said it was ok.

    2. NJ is the only place where ::1 isn’t home.

      1. In Soviet Jersey, IPv6 logs you!

    3. I checked, it’s not accessible from my location in the PRJ. I work in PA so I’ll download the file there and bring it across the border, coyote style.

      1. this is what I’m hoping for besides these AG’s (don’t they have other things to be more worried about?) is that when Defense Distributed puts these files up that some kind soul will mirror them so that those of us behind the Democrat digital wall will then be able to download them.

        The AG can’t sue them all. Let them waste their time playing wack a mole.

        Besides as I have mentioned elsewhere, guns can never be banned. They can be built by anyone who’s taken a shop class or two and can use a drill press and a screwdriver. What will the AG’s do about those guns? Hmmm?

        That’s what’s happening in a lot of places with gun bans; the citizens are taking to build their own and since it’s already a crime they go full out and build machine guns. Which are far more dangerous in normal use. But then the gun grabbers have never really been about safety or preventing violence or fighting crime. It’s always been about power.

        1. this is what I’m hoping for besides these AG’s (don’t they have other things to be more worried about?) is that when Defense Distributed puts these files up that some kind soul will mirror them so that those of us behind the Democrat digital wall will then be able to download them.

          The bold ones will tweet the mirror links, and will include the three anti 1st and anti 2nd amendment goobers in their tweets.

  7. Gurbir S. Grewal

    Pronounced “Gerber gruel”? Is that a joke name?

    1. Joke name? I have a vewy gweat fwiend in Wome called Gwewal.

  8. The anti-gun AG of PA just announced the same thing. Except as a PA resident I have no problems getting on via IPv6.

    So screw you Shapiro

    1. Came here to make the same announcement. Fuck Shapiro.

    2. Electronic files didn’t exist when the 1st Amendment was signed so it’s not protected.


      1. Since freedom of the press refers to printing presses, the solution is simple: Defense Distributed can only offer the files as downloadable and printable but unpreviewable (unviewable on a screen).

  9. Coming to a Blue State near you: licensing and background checks to procure a 3d printing machine.

  10. Is there a file available for 3d-printing wood chips?

    1. Yes. But the analog version has much better sound effects.

  11. There is definately a great deal to know about this issue. I like all the points you have made. imessage for pc As we all know folks are much-excited to get among the very greatest end-to-end texting services. Also, check out our step-by-step guide on the way to get iMessage on pc.

  12. Last I heard or saw that the only countries where ip’s got banned was China and all the Muslim states that are afraid of what their citizens might learn or think.

    Guess the US and the various states run by Democrats now qualify as tyranny’s.

    Btw; New Jersey and Pennsylvania and California(LA), anyone can buy a book from Amazon or another book seller and learn all about how to write these sorts of files themselves AND there’s also books describing how to build a firearm from common materials found in most hardware stores using common tools and power tools with only minimal machining skill. And that’s not 80% lowers I’m talking about. They’re capable of full auto fire.

    Whatcha gonna do about them butt heads? Burn the books? Take Amazon off the internet? God I hate that we elected Democrats to run the state again. Hope we correct this in November.

  13. “Defense Distributed was informed by the state of Pennsylvania that it was seeking a temporary restraining order in federal court to stop it from distributing weapon-making files in that state.”

    Even putting every other issue involved aside for the moment, this is wrong as well. Defense Distributed is not distributing files in Pennsylvania. The residents of Pennsylvania are going to it (its server, that is), asking for, and receiving those files. This is akin to Pennsylvania outlawing gambling, and suing Las Vegas casinos for allowing visiting Pennsylvania residents to play the slots.

    In fact, while IANAL, this strikes me as Pennsylvania trying to erect a barrier to interstate commerce. For once in a blue moon, Federal invocation of the Commerce Clause might actually be valid.

    1. Well, a court found that a firearm manufactured entirely in Montana, sold only in Montana, and engraved “for sale and use in Montana only” was a part of interstate commerce, so this should be a slam dunk.

      1. yeah, because SCOTUS back in 1934 or so got Filburn so wrong it hurts, even today. Their logic? Farmer Filburn’s wheat, grown, harvested, milled, ground, consumed ALL on his own farm in the midwest, violated the interstate commerce clause because by growing/using wheat on HIS property he precluded someone else growing wheat in another state that COULD have been moved interstate to supply his need, instead of him growing it himself ahd “cheating” that other imaginary grower the opportunity to grow and supply Farmer Filburn.

        That’s about like LIttle Johnnie in Second Grade wanting to use the RED crayon that Susie had, and since Susie would not let HIM use it, HE had to throw a temper tantrum and storm out of the room. It wasn’t FAIRRRRrrrrrrrr that she kept it all to her selfish self.

        And Mikey Hinnie sez SCOTUS never gets it wrong……

  14. While making your own gun in New Jersey is illegal without a permit, they cannot prohibit instructions on how to make one without criminalizing the possession of books. So it would in fact be perfectly legal for Defense Distributed to print up a bunch of books or pamphlets with their code in them and hand them out on the streets of New Jersey.

    1. Great idea Make it like some of the textbooks, that include a DVD inside the front cover. Guess what would be on that DVD???? Ya shooore yoo betchya. The books themself could be a compendium of the ways New Jersey’s laws are unconstititutional, perhaps with citatations and references. But the DVD would be the thing……

      if I can sell a book with colonial era recipes and a how to do it DVD inside with pictures, I can do it with this stuff and “The Files’ inside it too. Otherwise, NJ must discriminate on the basis of “content”, and/or “viewpoint”. And we ALL know how illegal THAT is…….

  15. And go fuck yourself and your cease and desist order. Have a nice day.

  16. I’m going to have to buy Cody Wilson a beer. The amount of “fuck yous” he’s properly handed out to various government entities should make every libertarian jealous.

  17. The Great Firewall of New Jersey doesn’t have the same ring to it as the Great Firewall of China.

  18. I had always thought that the first rule of internet discussions was, “Don’t feed the trolls”, yet folks here keep supplying sustenance to the HihnBot. Why, for crying out loud? Kirkland is bad enough, but Hihn takes it to a whole ‘nother level. Makes me wish for an ignore button, like the WAPO comments software has.

    1. The idea behind not feeding the trolls is that if you don’t respond to them they’ll get bored and go away.

      But Hihn is the Terminator of trolls. He can’t be bargained with. He can’t be reasoned with. He doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And he absolutely will not stop, ever, until the thread is dead.

  19. WTF? The issue is whether a state or city government can threaten to sue someone for exercising their 1st amendment rights when the government says what they are doing is not illegal. NJ and LA are attempting to circumvent the Federal government by imposing their own “rules” on issues they cannot legislate. The majority of the “discussion” here is about the word unalienable vs inalienable and the trading of school yard insults, so again WTF? I almost thought I was on Politico or some other moronic left wing site when I started reading the comments.

  20. Now available in NJ (and has been since 2013)

  21. This whole controversy is much ado about nothing. With these files you can make a lower receiver. Big deal. It’s a useless piece of plastic until you can make yourself an upper receiver, a bolt, a barrel, and a trigger group. You can make a truck frame, but without a body, engine, transmission, etc, you wouldn’t call yourself a truck manufacturer.

    1. All those other parts are easy to buy online.

      1. Are all those vendors’ I.P. addresses blocked in NJ?

    2. but ONLY that lower receiver is the “firearm” per federal law.All the other stuff are the hang-ons that render it usable, fun, cool looking, more/less accurate, longer/shorter, etc. One can by that other stuff cash over the counter in any state, and lawfully put it into your car and drive it back home to New Jersey. Without that lower receiver none of those other bits have a place to hang themselves upon. What EnnJay hates is that somehow someone has figured a work-round to render their nannyist WE WILL BE IN CONTROL of EFFRYT’INGK. They HATE it when someone has something they don’t like that something being the abiit to close the door on the nannies that think they run the state.

  22. From a Michael Hihn reply further up:

    See “argument from authority fallacy.”


    The fact that a given justice, or the entire court, ruled a certain way does not mean that their interpretation is correct.


    It just clicked for me. This isn’t Mike Hihn, 76-ish former low-level LP candidate. This has to be his 9-year-old grandson or something. How else to explain his fixation for all-caps and bold (because if the letters stand out your ideas are MORE AWSOM!), his use of chat room emotes (“yawn”, “shake head”), silly insults (“goober”, “tard”), his reveling in word “fuck” which he’s just discovered and is totally cool because mommy and daddy get mad when they catch him saying it, and boasting about how super he is. Also, his occasional complaints about bullying, which his teachers have told him is very bad and how he should run to an adult if anyone does it to him.

    I guess I should be grateful that Reason’s forum software doesn’t support emojis and animated GIFs. If it did, young Mike’s posts would be sprinkled profusely with the former, and every time he thinks he’s made a good point, we’d see Goku from Dragonball Z kamehameha’ing someone.

    1. That or he’s just nuts. I’ve only interacted with maybe two other commenters anywhere (newspaper comment sections, forums, etc.) who inflected like he did and were quick to claim everyone else was deflecting and would insert those “knew you couldn’t answer” mic-drops at the most bizarre times.

      After my local papers dropped their comment sections, I didn’t get to watch a character named Jerry Sturdivant do his thing anymore, but now I have Hihn to watch.

      They’re rare and a real treat to watch.

    2. It just clicked for me. This isn’t Mike Hihn, 76-ish former low-level LP candidate. This has to be his 9-year-old grandson or something

      The “or something” is likely some form of senility. However, he never was much of a libertarian to begin with as far as I can tell, or much of anything for that matter.

  23. Blocked from NJ & PA IP addresses? I’m guessing these monkey state lawyers have never heard of Tor.

    Oh, did I just end run around the voluntary block? My bad. LOL

    1. a VPN connection would do the same .

  24. Not to mention to the ignorant asses in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Los Angeles that the only requirement for getting around the IP address block is a low-cost VPN. The only thing sadder than their blatant stupidity is the ignorance and apathy of the sheeple that keep electing these parasites.

    “What to you call a thousand politicians at the bottom of the ocean? A good start”

  25. Eh. Push the tide back while you’re at it.

  26. Are they gonna ban books on gunsmithing and machining as well?

  27. Let freedom ring

  28. im Pretty sure a VPN connection would bypass any state ip block so no big deal .

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