Hand in Hand: A Second Amendment Group Fights to Defend First Amendment Rights

by Tommy Grant

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Attorneys representing the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and Defense Distributed have filed an appellants’ brief in their long-running First Amendment challenge of the New Jersey statute which prohibits the publication of computer files containing digital firearms information. Defense Distributed, according to their website, is the first private defense contractor in service of the general public. Since 2012’s Wiki Weapon project, Defense Distributed has provided state-of-the-art information in small scale, digital and personal gunsmithing technology.

The brief was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. SAF and Defense Distributed, based in Texas, are represented by attorneys Chad Flores and Josh Blackman, both in Houston, Texas and attorney Daniel L. Schmutter at Hartman & Winnicki in Ridgewood, N.J.

Since July 2018, the New Jersey Attorney General has acted under color of law to censor the publication of Defense Distributed’s Second Amendment speech. This has included a cease-and-desist letter to Defense Distributed, and threats to Defense Distributed’s third-party service providers. It amounted to a campaign of harassment and intimidation, which led to the federal lawsuit filed by SAF and Defense Distributed.

“This case has been dragging on since 2018, and it is obvious the New Jersey Attorney General is engaging in legal gamesmanship,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “We won fairly in the Fifth Circuit in the battle over jurisdiction, but now the AG has gone back to a district court in the Garden State simply because he doesn’t like losing.

“This is a case about government censorship. New Jersey is simply waging an ideological war against Defense Distributed for providing information online about firearms knowledge and possession.”

“In our continued pursuit of justice,” noted SAF Executive Director Adam Kraut, “we’ve had to literally chase the New Jersey Attorney General from one federal court circuit to another. New Jersey’s effort to stifle the First Amendment rights of Defense Distributed is reaching the realm of stubborn defiance. It constitutes a tortious interference with Defense Distributed’s business, in addition to violating their rights under the First and Second Amendments. The attorney general isn’t just trying to delay justice, he is trying to deny justice altogether.”

Defense Distributed operates three separate websites beneath their umbrella as part of their effort to support the 3D gun community. They include:

DEFCAD: A file-sharing platform designed as a comprehensive model repository for digital gunsmiths. DEFCAD is the world’s largest repository for small arms technical data, established by Defense Distributed in 2012. To ensure the world’s 2D and 3D firearms reference files and blueprints are permanently available in the public domain, our platform organizes open source collections and develops bibliographic standards for the benefit of the American rifleman and gunsmith.

GHOST GUNNER: Ghost Gunner is a third-generation, programmable desktop CNC with a gunsmithing design emphasis and related software. It supports a large open source community and a growing library of firearms patterns, including the AR-15, AR-308, 1911, and Polymer80 frames.

LEGIO: LEGIO is Defense Distributed’s technical and legal support fraternity with opportunities for supporters and interested 3D creators to join for a nominal fee.

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