New Jersey

New Jersey Slaps Criminal Penalties on Gun Manufacturing Instructions

The state can't scrub gun manufacturing info from the internet, so they're trying to make distributing it a crime--First Amendment be damned.

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Lannis Waters/ZUMA Press/Newscom

A federal lawsuit that Defense Distributed and Second Amendment groups filed late Tuesday is challenging New Jersey's attempt to rid the internet of information about how to make 3D-printable firearms.

The First Amendment lawsuit is a response to New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal's ongoing campaign to restrict firearm-related manufacturing instructions, which escalated to a threat of criminal prosecution on February 2.

Court filings say that Grewal sent this ominous warning to Cloudflare, which provides caching and other services for CodeIsFreeSpeech.com:

This is a notice to Cloudflare that you are serving files consisting of 3D printable firearms in violation of NJ Stat. Ann. § 2C:39-9 3(l)(2). These files are accessible via Cloudflare's New Jersey datacenter. You shall delete all files described within 24 hours or we will be forced to press charges in order to preserve the safety of the citizens of New Jersey.

New Jersey enacted that criminal statue last November precisely to target Defense Distributed and CodeIsFreeSpeech.com, a mirror site created by Firearms Policy Coalition, Calguns Foundation, the California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees, and other advocacy groups. CodeIsFreeSpeech.com has been republishing firearm-related files ever since Defense Distributed was forced to take them offline temporarily as a result of an earlier injunction. Now CodeIsFreeSpeech.com's files are also offline until the current lawsuit is resolved.

The new state law—which Grewal hailed as a win for "public safety"—carves out a First Amendment exception relating to information about firearm manufacturing. It's now a crime for "a person to distribute by any means, including the Internet… digital instructions in the form of computer-aided design files or other code or instructions… that may be used to program a three-dimensional printer to manufacture or produce a firearm, firearm receiver, magazine, or firearm component."

This is a remarkably broad prohibition: it goes beyond banning the manufacturing of firearms and instead criminalizes information about how to manufacture firearms. And it's backed by criminal sanctions including fines and imprisonment for up to 10 years.

Federal courts have, reasonably, taken a dim view of this kind of prohibition, which is at odds with First Amendment jurisprudence. The few categories of speech lacking First Amendment protections include obscenity, fighting words, threats, and defamation. Missing from that short list is gunsmithing information. (And given the existence of the Second Amendment's protections for the right to keep and bear arms, instructions on how to exercise those rights seem a less-than-obvious candidate for prohibition.)

As a practical matter, because the New Jersey law prohibits the distribution of firearm-manufacturing information to any "person in New Jersey," it's effectively a national ban. It imposes New Jersey's idiosyncratic views on firearm manufacturing instructions (and the First and Second Amendments) on the entire nation. Gunsmiths in Idaho and Montana are unlikely to be delighted at having Grewal dictate what they're allowed to do online. In addition, plans can be used for purposes other than manufacturing, including simulation or modeling, making the law even broader than it might seem at first glance.

And presumably the New Jersey law's broad prohibition on "digital instructions"—a term that sweeps in more than CAD files—might worry companies like Amazon, which sell hundreds of books on gunsmithing including in digital formats. Reason's step-by-step instructions on how to manufacture your own off-the-books handgun are available digitally as well.

Last summer, Grewal characterized his efforts as a way to keep firearms out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them: "Terrorists. Felons. Fugitives. They can't buy guns. But they can buy 3D printers. And that's what makes Defense Distributed so dangerous. The company cannot be allowed to publish its printable gun files online."

Even if the files are temporarily gone from Defense Distributed's Defcad.com and CodeIsFreeSpeech, they remain available on innumerable other sites. Plans for the famous Liberator, a printable single-shot handgun, are available on Github. And there's a handy code repository that lets you easily mirror the FOSSCAD (the acronym stands for Free Open Source Software & Computer Aided Design) archive, which includes the files for scores of firearms. Not even New Jersey's determined civil servants are likely to be able to scrub these from the Internet.

The lawsuit filed this week effectively renews an existing court battle between Grewal and Defense Distributed. In that case, Defense Distributed claimed that New Jersey's law was unconstitutional. But a federal judge in Texas ruled on January 30 that he did not have jurisdiction over the New Jersey attorney general and dismissed the case on procedural grounds.

"The Constitution's protections exist because of authoritarians like New Jersey Attorney General Grewal," Brandon Combs, founder of Firearms Policy Coalition, told Reason. "He just does not have the authority to redline the Bill of Rights through unconstitutional enforcement of Orwellian speech crime statutes. The right to speak doesn't end at New Jersey's borders. Neither does the right to bear arms."

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  1. …carves out a First Amendment exception relating to information about firearm manufacturing.

    It shouldn’t take the courts so long to deal with these violations.

    1. I hope they take their time in reading their decisions.

      1. “Mr. Madison, what you just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response, were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

        Thanks mad.casual classic

  2. Poor New Jersey. That Garbage state just continues to be bullied by the 1st and 2nd Amendments.

    Run to your safe space New Jersey. RUN!

    1. I leave NJ five days a week. Unfortunately, it’s just to my office in Philly.

      1. You seem to have that backwards. People live in PA who have to work in NJ.

    2. But, they found the time to become the 2nd state after California to force schools to teach LGBTQX History, which of course means promoting & glorifying the sexual sickness & diseased lifestyle…Think parents who feel differently will be able to exempt their kids?

  3. Fucktard statist censors. Because criminalizing information always keeps people safer.

  4. I love to make fun of California as much as the next guy, but objectively speaking, NJ seems to be the worst state in the union. Thank god we have a river separating us from that cancer.

    1. Maybe you can build a moat/canal around Philly, and gift them that city.

  5. The state can’t scrub gun manufacturing info from the internet, so they’re trying to make distributing it a crime??First Amendment be damned.

    Something something… “GUNZ R BAD”… mumble mumle… “GUN INTRUKSHINZ R H8 SPEACH”… blah blah… “NO H8 SPEACH PROTEKSHUN”… ARGLE BARGLE!

    1. Argle bargle indeed!

  6. At what point do we get to treat enacting blatantly unconstitutional laws to infringe this (or any!) civil liberty, as a conspiracy to violate civil rights? Because it’s not like they don’t know what they’re doing here.

    1. Excellent question for The Nation’s Top Law Enforcement Official.

    2. You would first need some federal prosecutors with balls, unless we just want to form a Constitutional Rights Committee Of Vigilance.

    3. Well, here is a relevant statute. Sounds pretty clear-cut to me.

      18 U.S. Code ??242. Deprivation of rights under color of law

      Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or to different punishments, pains, or penalties, on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

      1. Let’s read that again: if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section … may be sentenced to death.

        So, Gurbir Grewal — do you feel lucky?

      2. Unfortunately, the scope of this statute appears limited to “…deprivation…on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race…”; shouldn’t be, but I think, is.

        1. willfully subjects any person in any State… to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.

          or to different punishments, pains, or penalties, on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens.

          1 law, 2 separate situations.

  7. ” But a federal judge in Texas ruled on January 30 that he did not have jurisdiction over the New Jersey attorney general and dismissed the case on procedural grounds.”

    What chickenshit.

    To the extent that the NJ AG is attempting to exert control over interstate trade the judge very much has jurisdiction, and the judge should have slapped him down hard.

  8. It’s now a crime for “a person to distribute by any means, including the Internet… digital instructions in the form of computer-aided design files or other code or instructions… that may be used to program a three-dimensional printer to manufacture or produce a firearm, firearm receiver, magazine, or firearm component.”

    Let’s parse this English: It’s now a crime for “a person to distribute by any means … instructions… that may be used to … produce a … firearm component.”

    WTF do these people think they are?

    1. Your overlords, and you’d better obey if you value your life.

      1. Which they will back themselves up with a non 3D printed gun.

    2. Power mad.

    3. Pipes and screws are firearm components.

      NJ is in big trouble now…

  9. Be thankful– the AG just put a firm cap on his political career.

    1. Not in NJ… this probably makes him a candidate for Governor or Senate.

  10. I believe the appropriate legal response to NJ is “Go f*ck yourselves.”

    1. “With a gun barrel”

  11. But is it still legal to own a lathe?

    1. It’ll get to those; as in Great Britain, you need a “good reason” to possess a pointy knife, or a hammer.

  12. Today I am reminded to be grateful; that I do not live in New Jersey or anything like it.

    It’s not just the pols; they just do what the damned fools who elect them think they want. And they keep electing them.

  13. If the instructions are from a server plugged into a wall in, oh, Switzerland, are they going to send a SWAT team to unplug it?

    1. They’ll set up a firewall to block it, NJ will become a mini-China

  14. The people of America, not just New Jersey, have no need for free speech, gun ownership, due process or any other guarantees of freedom as promised by that nefarious, homophobic, capitalistic, slave-driven and misogynist US Constitution.
    Luckily for us, we have people who have been properly indoctrinated in the miracles and wonders of socialist slavery in the finest indoctrination and propaganda mills of higher learning in this country.
    We should allow them to lead us into the next generation of freedom and prosperity those lucky devils enjoy in North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela since these enlightened souls are so much smarter than all us ignorant clods.
    So let us surrender our rights and liberties to those who know so much more about the administration of business, economics, history and human nature so we can all enjoy the independence totalitarian socialist slavery has to offer.

    1. Progressive-Liberal, meet guillotine.

  15. Who gave NJ jurisdiction over the internet?

    1. New Jersey democrats, of course.
      For the children.

  16. What kind of special moron do you have to be in order to believe that a criminal would purchase a 3D printer to make their own weapon when they can get one off the street for next to nothing? Or steal one, or, barring that, just make a simple zip gun…no 3D printer needed. I guess you have to have a law degree to be that kind of moron.

  17. That is no more a violation of the first amendment than gun laws are a violation of the second.
    Why not full equal, and require a state issued permit for speech?

  18. Holy shit! these assholes are really, truly crazy! Very few words for this action. Makes Obama look NRA friendly!

  19. Fuck New Jersey.

    Hopefully Grewal will fall head first into a toxic landfill in his home state and drown in PCBs.

  20. Those files are available on Pirate Bay.

    There’s no way to prevent the distribution of anything that can be represented as digital data.

    1. When you try to censor the internet it almost always leads to the information becoming even more widespread, both Beyonce and French president Francois Hollande learned that the hard way

  21. Great example of a politician virtue signaling while being technologically ignorant.

    So he’s trying to ban the knowledge that any person who takes a CAD drafting class and/or CNC machining course would be able to do. Guess he’ll have to shutdown every Community College and Mechanical Engineering school in the country to do it. Afterwards he’ll be requesting search warrants for every machine shop in NJ “just in case.”

    Sorry pal, but that train left the station a long time ago.

  22. “Terrorists. Felons. Fugitives. They can’t buy guns. But they can buy 3D printers…”

    Is he really asserting that criminals cannot buy guns?

    1. Like many a Leftist authoritarian stooge, he is so wrapped up in his Narrative that he hasn’t glimpsed reality in years.

  23. A) Somebody is virtue signalling, in a ploy to get something else. Maybe a nomination.

    B) Somebody has developed a really sneaky way to get NJ tax money into the hands of NRA lawyers, via a blatant First Amendment violation.

  24. I am not sure which is illegal here; is it the ones, or the zeros?

  25. Somehow morons make their minions look smart, or see their minions as criminals, felons, terrorists. I feel so much safer living in right to carry state. Will I still be able to drive through NJ with an NRA bumper sticker? Canada gets a bit testy when they see it.

    1. You can drive through NJ with an NRA bumper sticker.
      However, you will be stopped 16 times for traffic violations, and at least two of the searches will find drugs.
      So technically, you can drive into NJ, but not all the way through it; just to one of the local jails.
      Oh, and the vehicle and all your accounts will be asset forfeitured into oblivion.

  26. If I were stupid enough to live in The Peoples Democratic Republic of New Jerkoff I would rather take a chance and not abide by any of their draconian gun laws to protect my family from the diverse crowd who seem to always have a gun in any state and use them regularly.

  27. The most important sentence or phrase in this article is the following – “. . . a single shot printable handgun”. Who in their right mind thinks a criminal is going to go armed with a single shot gun? What if person you shoot at has an “old fashioned” handgun with 10-15 rds?? You are kinda screwed, yes? Politicians are such idiots. The entire point of designing the handgun was to demostrate it was POSSIBLE, not infer it waz practical.

  28. Yes, let us surrender our rights and liberties to those who know so much more about the administration of business, economics…

  29. Start working at home with Google. It’s the most-financially rewarding I’ve ever done. On tuesday I got a gorgeous BMW after having earned $8699 this last month. I actually started five monthsago and practically Text. profitvid.com

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