Just when an end seemed near, two 3D-printed gun-file legal battles get new life

Just when an end seemed near, two 3D-printed gun-file legal battles get new life
A Defense Distributed USB drive

Enlarge / The information contained on this Defense Distributed USB drive has been sparking quite a bit of legal action over the last year. (credit: Nathan Mattise)

Last week, the legal drama surrounding 3D-printed gun files and firearms tech company Defense Distributed seemed near the finish line. A judge had newly ruled that a federal court in Texas lacked jurisdiction to decide whether a new New Jersey “ghost gun” law was unconstitutional in Defense Distributed v. Grewal. And a previous, separate effort from 19 states and the District of Columbia to keep the gun files offline, State of Washington v. Department of State, continued to sit in limbo as it had for months. Nothing happened in the case since the fall when the defense wanted to stay (or pause) the whole thing. The defense claimed rule changes were coming at the State Department within the next four months, and those tweaks would make Washington irrelevant.

But this week, two new and unexpected court filings have set the table for yet another round in this ongoing courtroom saga. In one motion, the judge in Washington v. State has decided the case won’t wait any longer and can move forward. And in the other filing, Grewal may now get a sequel situated in the state of New Jersey, as Defense Distributed has submitted a fresh legal complaint against New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. The company did so after a website that hosted DD’s gun files received a corresponding takedown notice from New Jersey.

Evidently it can’t wait

The last major action in Washington came toward the end of 2018 when the defendants filed a motion to pause everything for four months while the State Department considered new rules that it argued would “directly bear on this case.” Washington et al. pursued this legal action initially because they believed that, when the Department of Justice settled its five-year legal battle with Defense Distributed in July 2018 and allowed the CAD files in question to be re-posted, that action violated the Constitution. But in a November 2018 filing, government lawyers for the defense explained that rule changes being considered by the State Department would make any legal conflicts in Washington moot.

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