Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

A Federal Appeals Court Declines to Revive 3D Guns Lawsuit

Seized plastic handguns which were created using 3D printing technology are displayed at Kanagawa police station in Yokohama, south of Tokyo. May 8, 2014. REUTERS/Kyodo

On January 21st, a three-panel judge for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals declined to revive a lawsuit that would allow the publication of plans to make 3D guns.

The lawsuit was originally filed in 2015 by Austin, Texas-based Defense Distributed, a nonprofit that promotes the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms, after the State Department ordered it to remove plans for a 3D-printed pistol from its website.

In 2018, Defense Distributed dismissed its suit after the State Department, under President Donald Trump, agreed to let the 3D gun plans be published. In response, 19 states, including Washington, filed lawsuits challenging the administration’s agreement.

In 2018, Judge Robert Lasnik of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington issued a restraining order that blocked the State Department’s agreement, and in 2019, Lasnik voided the agreement, saying that the policy change hadn’t been reported to Congress, as is required under federal law.

After a judge in Texas declined to review Defense Distributed’s lawsuit, the nonprofit appealed.

On January 21st, the Fifth Circuit upheld the lower court’s ruling, saying that Defense Distributed erred by citing a federal rule that allows a judgment to be amended if there is new evidence or in order to correct an error of law. “It does not allow a party to revive and initiate further proceeding in a dismissed lawsuit,” Judge James Ho wrote on behalf of the three-judge panel.

Statesman  Opinion