March 7th was a banner day for New Jersey’s abuse of power and process against us, Legionnaires. What began as a status conference on our PI schedule became a motion hearing, where Grewal’s lawyers and an obviously disinterested Judge Thompson forced a stay ruling. How could a surprise stay ruling occur in a status conference without the Plaintiffs being afforded the chance to file a substantive response? How could a judge, relying on no authorities, issue a stay against totally new plaintiffs and totally new issues that were not a part of our 1983 action in Texas? Hey, ask New Jersey. They’ve been making it up as they go along since at least May of 2018.
All this error has been preserved, and we are mobilising for direct appellate review, but this typifies the completely improvisational nature of the legal obstacles these petty authorities, state and federal, have thrown up against Defense Distributed since our settlement with the State Department.
No press picked it up, perhaps because it’s so discreditable, but on the same day as our stay, NJ Senator Menendez sent a letter to Twitter asking Jack Dorsey to specifically censor one account sharing updated versions of the DEFCAD AR-15 reference files. Is there another word to use when a politician asks a private company to edit the public communications of a private individual?
Note how this public servant further asks Twitter to limit the ability of people to share links to firearms CAD data both publicly *and* in private messages, a mirror of the steps Facebook took this summer. Yes, Facebook implemented a policy literally preventing users from communicating about 3D data related to guns in real time. In what other domain of knowledge do we accept politicians asking for such explicit censorship and control?
Defense Distributed’s legal activism has always been about making the terms of the debate explicit, and demonstrating authority’s willingness to attack the Internet to get at the very *idea* of the firearm. New Jersey takes the bait without irony.
They literally believe they have designed an enforceable, state-level regime for control of all the Internet’s traffic in firearms design data. Their national congressional delegation believes it can suspend or reset the Export Control Reform process and force the State Department to control whatever data their state authority somehow misses. And the state has enough rubber stamp district and federal courts that they know it will take years to officially correct them.
But all this lawmaking and letter writing didn’t prevent the technical improvement and re-release of the DEFCAD AR-15 reference files, did it? This furious rush to the courts and the state legislatures around the country only served to demonstrate to a small community of people that such CAD data was politically important and necessarily a public good. All this sound and fury produced a better set of reference models for the AR-15 than has ever existed before in online circulation. And that’s how this is always going to go, Legionnaires.
Our legal efforts may seem frustrated and never-ending, but imagine being these people in New Jersey, clumsily fighting against creative people who want to *give something away for free* through the perfectly liquid channels of the Internet. A lost cause.