3D Printing

The State Department Fought To Allow 'Ghost Gun' Files and Won. Why Is It Still Trying To Remove Them?

Despite its victory, the State Department is insisting that a court order to allow the files to spread is not yet technically in effect.

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The State Department earlier this week won a lawsuit to prevent 22 states from forcing the agency to reverse its decision to take certain computer files that can be used to manufacture weapons off a list of prohibited munitions that cannot legally be shared with noncitizens.

Defense Distributed, a company dedicated to the promotion, compilation, and distribution of such files, instantly began hosting them at its DEFCAD site as soon as that decision from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals cleared the way. The decision clearly stated in its conclusion: "Congress expressly barred judicial review of designations and undesignations of defense articles under the Control Act and of any functions exercised under the Reform Act. Accordingly, the district court erred in reviewing the DOS and Commerce Final Rules, and its injunction is therefore contrary to law. VACATED and REMANDED with instructions to dismiss."

That is, dismiss the lower court's decision that the states had the power or authority to force the State Department to reverse its decision to take the gun-making files in question out from under International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) control, and shift them to Commerce Department control under its Commerce Control List (CCL) system. The Commerce Department is also currently not trying to ban distribution of the files.

Then yesterday, the State Department, the very agency that won its legal fight for its prerogative to have taken those files out from under ITAR authority, told Defense Distributed in a phone call to its lawyers that those files were still ITAR-controlled as far as it was concerned—again, after a legal victory defining its power to have taken them out from under ITAR control. Mostly, the federal government still seems dedicated to making life hard for Defense Distributed and its controversial founder Cody Wilson.

Today, Wilson and his company sought a temporary restraining order to stop the State Department from ordering it to once again take down the files.

The State Department's argument seems to be based on a legal wrinkle regarding when the 9th Circuit's order to vacate and remand with instructions to dismiss actually equals the official legal dismissal. Wilson thought the 9th Circuit's command was clear enough, and that the removal of the controls on those files, which happened years ago, could indeed be treated as a legal done deal. The State Department, despite being the entity that originally ordered the removal, is arguing that it still isn't—despite its victory in court about insisting that it is.

Here's how Defense Distributed's legal team explained it in their motion today for a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the State Department: "Defense Distributed's publication of the April 2021 Files was and is authorized by regulatory changes that, while once the subject of a district court's nationwide preliminary injunction, were revived by the Ninth Circuit on April 27. No one disputes this decision's substance. All agree that it protects Defense Distributed's publication of the April 2021 Files from ITAR scrutiny. The quibble is about timing. Did it take effect already, as the decision itself says; or does it only matter after mandate issues, as the State Department says? The State Department's hypertechnical delay idea is plainly wrong, as well as too little to justify its actions. This may be the first case ever in which a federal agency that just won an appeal upholding its regulations turns around on political foes to say that those same regulations are not the law."

Not that the government doesn't know this—it's clearly just out to harass Defense Distributed—but there is no meaningful public policy goal to be met by trying to further restrict the company's First Amendment rights to publish this information, against the State Department's own policy decision. As the TRO request spells out: "What legitimate end would punishing Defense Distributed serve? None. The cat is out of the bag. After just two days online, total downloads of the April 2021 Files exceeded ~40,000 and users downloaded every single one of the ~16,000 April 2021 Files at least once. Regardless of whether or not defcad.com continues to publish the April 2021 Files, the independent re-publishers that have already obtained the files will freely re-publish them on new site after new site forever. Whatever goals ITAR controls are supposed to achieve cannot possibly be achieved here."

Today, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman denied the TRO request arising from "an April 29, 2021 telephone conversation where the State Department told Defense Distributed that its recent publication of thousands of printable gun files violates the ITAR." Pitman will in May conduct a hearing on a request for a preliminary injunction against the State Department from Defense Distributed in this action. Until then, Wilson says he will follow whatever advice he ends up receiving from his lawyers regarding the distribution of the files.

The moving of items on and off ITAR is largely a matter of presidential discretion, so one can expect the Biden administration to officially re-ban the spread of those files except for one possible wrinkle: ITAR restrictions are not meant to legally apply to data in the public domain, and with these files having always been spread freely by everyone not actively being harassed by the feds as Defense Distributed has been, and having been dispersed by Defense Distributed itself during what seemed like clear legal windows to do so (such as the aftermath of this week's 9th Circuit decision), a very good case can be made that they can never be made ITAR-illegal again.

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  1. Well it’s the Biden administration so what do you expect. Run by the guy who got spanked hard by the Chinese delegation.

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  2. If you’re not going to use these files to protect the common good, and if you refuse to publicly state your positions on fundamental issues, and if you insult me for pointing this out and respond, “Protect yourself, asshole”, then that makes it hard for me and the fence-sitters to defend your self-defense privileges.

    And you also cede any justification to resort to intimidation or threats of violence against judges or journalists when they express contrary opinions.

    1. You still haven’t shown a basis for this idea that anyone is obligated to ‘protect the common good’.

      If this were a thing, I guess that means you support conscription?

      Removal of restrictions on eminent domain?

      No more 4th or 5th amendments?

      Freedom of speech, association, and religion to be curtailed ‘for the common good’?

      1. You still haven’t shown why anyone would grant you the right to a weapon when you refuse to state your position on any issue or promise to promote the common good. In fact, it sounds like a terrible idea.

        But thanks for acceding that you have no justification to intimidate or threaten.

        1. I don’t need a permission slip to have tools to defend myself. The fact that some think this is needed supports ownership.

          1. Except now you do, and you have only yourself to blame.

            1. And yet, I’m doing nothing differently.

            2. But I still don’t need a permission slip.

              1. I was banned on Reason for several years. Will you condemn that? Will you defend me if it happens again?

                1. What were the circumstances that resulted in your ban? Did you ask ENB to cook for you?

                  1. Fine then don’t expect people to defend your self defense privileges.

                    1. “People shouldn’t own guns because I’m butthurt that Reason doesn’t like me.” – AddictionMyth

                  2. I won’t defend you if you don’t define the circumstances. But I support your right to defend yourself. You don’t need a hall pass from anyone to do so.

        2. I’ve stated my position on many issues, including right here when it comes to gun possession.

          1. “People shouldn’t own guns because I’m butthurt that Reason doesn’t like me.” – AddictionMyth

        3. Where have I intimidated or threatened – let alone tried to justify doing so?

          1. Good. Don’t. And tell your friends not to either. Even if the judge rules against you (or the journalist doesn’t flog your pet issue).

        4. Hey shreek, who’s gonna come and take it, you, you pathetic fucking child-fucker? Fuck around and find out motherfucker. Make sure to bring plenty of friends, I’ve got enough ammo for a whole fucking lot of you.

          1. It also doesn’t realize that the best defense is a good offense.

            Gunowners will likely sit, bitch, and make excuses about the first thousand or so high-profile arrests of gunowners. Eventually though, they’ll figure out that it won’t stop, until they find the people pushing these laws, giving orders to the bluecoats, and make them stop.

            We seem insistent on importing all of the other features of Latin American governance: why not death squads too?

    2. “… self-defense privileges.”

      That pretty much sums up all I need to know. It seems our lives are only to serve the “the common good” but I’m not interested in your vision of my slavery to the Fascio-Socialist norms of your “common good”. You can’t compel me to speak in support of your warped vision nor can you compel me to serve its goals.

      I can also speak against your slavery without threats, intimidation, or anything else. I will provide you with the information that if you’re up to try enslaving me, you had best expect some modicum of resistance.

      The only remaining question is whether Poe’s Law applies here.

      1. You refuse to publicize your politics other than “ME ME ME”. That’s fine, but don’t expect anyone to defend you when the government comes knocking (other than the other extremists here who also refuse to state what they stand for).

        1. Except right there he published his politics

          Like right there in that post.

          You need to get back on your meds.

          1. “Might makes right” and “Me me me” are not political philosophies. At least not ones that most people will support. If you want people to defend your self defense rights then you must condemn this threat:

            You should try breathing underwater with lead weights tied to your ankles.

            1. That wasn’t a threat you stupid cunt. A threat goes like this: Fuck around and find out motherfucker. Make sure to bring plenty of friends, I’ve got enough ammo for a whole fucking lot of you.

              1. That’s not a threat, it’s a warning.

            2. 1. Actually, they are.

              2. Actually, a lot of people support them – see: China, North Korea, well, basically every totalitarian shithole. They support them because if they don’t they’ll be killed.

              3. If you want people to defend your self defense rights then you must condemn this threat:

              Why?

              1. No judge would read the comments here and think, “Yes these guys should be allowed access to ghost gun files.”

                You will lose your privileges and you have only yourself to blame.

                1. Not a privilege – these are rights, endowed by our creator.

                2. It’s SELF defense. Not asking you to defend me, just that I can defend MYSELF. And apparently, from people like you.

        2. “People shouldn’t own guns because I’m butthurt that Reason doesn’t like me.” – AddictionMyth

    3. Why did I help anyone who starts off their argument by outright insulting me?

    4. Individuals protecting themselves is the “common good”.

  3. WTF’s a “ghost gun”?!

    You mean 80% kits?

    I’ve done a web search for a bunch of 80% kits, looked at them, and there wasn’t anything ghostly about them.

    1. Maybe they use them in Ghostbusters IV.

      1. Wait, I remember what a ghost gun is now!

        Isn’t that the one girls supposedly do at slumber parties, when they stare into a mirror and repeatedly chant “from my cold dead hands” until the ghost of Charlton Heston appears?

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZV7_ntTlbIE

    2. No. But yes.

      A ghost gun is a gun without a seri number.

      The most popular ones are created from 80 percent receivers but it wod also include 3d printing or even traditional machining from scratch.

      1. So if I etch a “serial number” of ‘CASPER1’ on the little metal bit under the dust cover it isn’t a ‘ghost gun’ anymore? Cool!

        1. Basically, yes.

          Like, there are standards for the engraving and you’re supposed to keep a record but yeah, if you make your own gin and the decide to sell it later – you make up your own serial numbers

          1. The original “ghost guns” were fictional guns that could pass through a metal detector without triggering it. That’s what made them “ghost”, and worried people about them.

            They were fictional, of course, but that’s what the term referred to.

            Then once they got people panicking, they expanded it to include guns manufactured without serial numbers.

            1. Agreed. I distinguish by calling real ghost guns “undetectable” guns, and the 80% guns “unregistered” or “self-made”.

              When the government tries to regulate either, they have to be treated completely differently. A friend residing in WA sent me a copy of their new law banning Ghost Guns. It had a bunch of paragraphs addressing undetectable guns, and a single paragraph addressing self-made unregistered guns.

              Keep in ind that “undetectable” guns are squally detectable, and have been illegal at the federal level for some time. They are typically fairly undetectable because they don’t contain metal (or less than required by federal law). Certain parts of guns are still almost always made of metal, in order to handle the sudden stress, pressure, and heat of igniting gun powder and allowing the resulting gasses from the explosion to propel a bullet down the barrel towards a destination or target. True Ghost Guns, almost completely made w/o metal, can typically survive a handful of shots before disintegrating, and blowing up in your face – even in calibers like .22 LR that are completely inadequate for self defense. Essentially worthless, except maybe to hijack an airplane or shoot a judge in his courtroom.

              On the flip side, self-made unregistered guns are older than this republic. Probably dating at least back to distant ancestors chipping flint to attach to handles. It was probably the 19th Century or so before most guns became mass manufactured and serialized and esp with the Union in the Civil War.

      2. A “ghost gun” is a bullshit term used to fan a moral panic, and we’re carrying the water for the enemies of the Second Amendment when we use the term ourselves–whether we realize it or not.

        1. Which is why I don’t use it.

          Doesn’t change the fact that this word does have a speflcifoc meaning.

      3. Of course, an individual manufacturing a firearm for their own use without a serial number is perfectly legal, so far. Stay tuned for changes.

        1. What about making a pizza at home, without a license from the local health department, and feeding it to your children?

          Won’t somebody please think about the children?!

          1. Just think of the scourge of grilled cheeses sandwiches that have been killing our children for decades, if not centuries.

        2. And you don’t even need a 3D printer!

    3. “WTF’s a “ghost gun”?!”

      Basically, any home made gun that doesn’t have a serial number from a federally licensed firearms manufacturer stamped into it.

      It would cover anything from a zip-gun assembled from parts obtained from a hardware store to a 3D printed plastic gun to a gun assembled from an 80% kit to a gun built by a serious hobby gun smith from a raw block of aluminum.

      1. “ghost gun” is worse than “assault weapon”.

        Incidentally, “identity theft” doesn’t mean someone can lock you in a closet and sleep with your wife without her even knowing it isn’t you because they stole your identity. It’s just credit fraud, but credit fraud didn’t sound as scary–so they used “identity theft” on the 11 o’clock scaremonger news.

        If we could get people to start referring to reggae as “rape rock”, we’d be more than halfway to getting it banned.

        It isn’t a ghost gun. It’s a kit.

        1. The 80% kit isn’t a ghost gun. The firearm you build using the kit is.

          1. It’s just a gun.

            The kit is just a kit, and the gun is just a gun.

          2. According to the ATF an 80% receiver, when packaged with the other parts to assemble a firearm after completing the receiver, legally is a firearm now

            1. So order the parts in at least two separate orders, and keep them in two separate closets.

  4. If you like your ghost gun, you can keep your ghost gun.

    1. But only if you are a ghost.

  5. Joe Biden restricted travel from India because he’s a racist.

    1. Remember how Trump restricting travel was racist?

    2. No, when he does it it’s because he cares.

  6. “The State Department earlier this week won a lawsuit to prevent 22 states from forcing the agency to reverse its decision to take certain computer files that can be used to manufacture weapons off a list of prohibited munitions that cannot legally be shared with noncitizens.”

    This is possibly the most confusing sentence I’ve ever read. Quadruple or quintuple negative? I’m not sure, but I have no idea what the hell it means.

    1. The sad thing is, I can actually translate and understand the quoted sentence. Though it does prompt me to try and clean up my own writing.

      Basically, as I read that quote, a subset of the State Department removed several manufacturing computer files from a list of material that is prohibited for export from the United States. See, “ITAR,” for what that list is, how the State Department gets to decide what’s on it, etc…

      The computer files at question involve the manufacturing of firearms. If they’re on the list, the Federal Government gets more authority to restrict their dissemination. If not, they don’t. Taking those files off that list, therefore makes it easier—in theory—for a citizen of one of the 22 States suing the State Department to obtain those files. Then make their own firearms, which is something the leadership of those 22 States doesn’t want their citizens doing.

      The 22 States filed some sort of legal action in Federal Court to try and compel the State Department to reverse their removal decision, and the Court said the State Department was not obligated to do what those States wanted it to do. IOW, fuck off States.

      At least, that’s how I read it. The article isn’t clear on the procedural history of this action: who filed suit where, for what reasons, and what then happened.

    2. The State Department earlier this week won a lawsuit to prevent 22 states from forcing the agency to reverse its decision to take certain computer files that can be used to manufacture weapons off a list of prohibited munitions that cannot legally be shared with noncitizens.

      The SD, this week, won a lawsuit to keep computer files on its list of prohibited munitions, for now.

  7. “The State Department earlier this week won a lawsuit to prevent 22 states from forcing the agency to reverse its decision to take certain computer files that can be used to manufacture weapons off a list of prohibited munitions that cannot legally be shared with noncitizens.”

    This is possibly the most confusing sentence I’ve ever read. Quadruple or quintuple negative? I’m not sure, but I have no idea what the hell it means.

    https://hotvevosongs.com

  8. Heert breaking also cede any justification to resort to intimidation or threats of violence against judges or journalists when they express contrary opinions. https://www.wapexclusive.com

  9. “The State Department earlier this week won a lawsuit to prevent 22 states from forcing the agency to reverse its decision to take certain computer files that can be used to manufacture weapons off a list of prohibited munitions that cannot legally be shared with noncitizens.”

    That’s some twisted and contorted statement. But leave it to government. It’s clearly the twisted and contorted path this nonsense has taken and continues to take. No wonder so many people are confused.

    1. Remember, Section 230 is the 1A of the internet.

  10. The ITAR regulations are preposterous themselves as written, no matter how well intentioned, and irrespective of the First and Second Amendment concerns in the particular case of Defense Distributed.

    A few years ago, I worked for a company which made aircraft seats. We were in the process of being purchased by another company, and were required by the other company’s lawyers to declare which of our products were subject to ITAR regulations as part of the acquisition process.

    My initial reaction, after looking up the definition of ITAR, was “Wait..what?” but I dutifully (as a lowly bush league engineer, mind you, ’cause the loathsome task had been fobbed off on me by the executive suite) looked up the regs. Basically, anything that is potentially “dual use” requires a waiver from the State Department prior to export. The onus is on the manufacturer to obtain the waiver (guilty until proven innocent, as it were). If you manufacture perforated plumber’s strap which you know is used to hold up the tailpipe of a 5 ton military cargo truck, you require a finding from the State Department that your “dual use” plumber’s strap is not subject to ITAR before selling it to the very scary Canuckistanis north of the border to presumably be used to arrange their sewer pipes within their cellars such that excrement runs downhill in a strategically consequential manner. That is the plain reading of the statute. Everything from boot laces and pick axes to water bottles and camp stoves could fall into the same category, as I read the statute.

    I have no idea how it’s actually applied in practice (capriciously?).

    We made seats which were mostly used on civilian aircraft (think charter and private planes), but a few seats were used for military applications (think air conditioned and sound isolated CONEX boxes which could be loaded into a C-5 for transporting the top brass in some degree of comfort). So, clearly “dual use” and therefore necessitating a finding from the State Department. Someone above my pay grade made an executive decision and reported “these aren’t the droids you’re looking for” and as far as I know, there were no repercussions (I left the company a few months later). We’d been selling seats for years to customers all over the free and oppressed worlds as long as their money was green, and without the mother-may-I of the State Department, so I guess it must have been OK. Or something. But I’m sure an overly zealous federal prosecutor could have made life miserable for a few years (strictly in the interest of national security, of course). Especially if some un-elected person in the Deep State had a vendetta or an axe to grind.

    I have no problem with the obvious intent of ITAR (keep technology of tactical and strategic importance out of the hands of those who are an existential threat to the American project), but the statute as written appears to be ripe for abusive selective enforcement due to its breadth. If Defense Distributed is in the vanguard of such actions, then a lot of people should be taking notice; your shovel manufacturing company or boutique publishing company or whatever it is that you do could be next. Eighteen months ago, I might not have believed it. Now, I’d be easily convinced, especially with the way the FISA courts were revealed to have been abused for political ends (whatever your opinions about the former President may be).

  11. “The State Department earlier this week won a lawsuit to prevent 22 states from forcing the agency to reverse its decision to take certain computer files that can be used to manufacture weapons off a list of prohibited munitions that cannot legally be shared with noncitizens.

    This is possibly one of the most confusing sentence I’ve read. Quadruple or quintuple negative? I’m not sure, but I have no idea what it means.

    https://042jamz.com/

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