A unanimous three judge panel on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals shot down a demand by New Jersey Attorney General Gurwir Grewal to dismiss a case brought by Defense Distributed in federal district court in the state of Texas, where the company is based.
The Second Amendment Foundation says the case is based on Defense Distributed’s dissemination of online files that allow others to print a working firearm (or at least most of the parts necessary) from a 3D printer. Grewal and eight other attorneys general around the country filed suit in federal court in Washington State seeking to block DD’s distribution of the files, but shortly before the anti-gun AGs launched their legal fight, Defense Distributed and SAF filed a suit of their own, this time in Texas, alleging that Grewal and the other AGs are engaging in “select enforcement actions” designed to target the company and its founder.
Grewal attempted to dismiss the case for a “lack of personal jurisdiction,” but that argument didn’t fly with the Fifth Circuit panel.
In its ruling, the 5th Circuit noted, “Grewal’s conduct beyond sending the cease-and-desist letter confirms his intent to crush Defense Distributed’s operations and not simply limit the dissemination of digital files in New Jersey. Grewal’s enforcement actions are selective. He has not targeted the many similarly-situated persons who publish Defense Distributed’s files on the internet…Instead, he has focused solely on Defense Distributed. Perhaps nowhere is this better illustrated than in Grewal’s efforts to enjoin the national distribution of Defense Distributed’s files by suing in Washington, far from his or the plaintiffs’ home state. Grewal has also threatened Defense Distributed’s founder, Cody Wilson, by name, promising to ‘come after’ ‘anyone who is contemplating making a printable gun’ and ‘the next ghost gun company.’ Together, these actions confirm Grewal’s intent to force Defense Distributed to close shop.”
The decision by the Fifth Circuit panel doesn’t guarantee success for the Defense Distributed once their case against the attorneys general gets its day in court, of course, but it’s still good to see the Fifth Circuit acknowledge that Grewal is engaged in an effort to destroy the company. In some respects Grewal’s actions are similar to what New York Attorney General Letitia James is doing in her lawsuit against the NRA. She’s not just seeking to remedy any financial wrongdoing on the part of NRA leaders, she’s trying to dissolve the organization entirely. Just like James, Grewal isn’t interested in any legal outcome that would allow Defense Distributed to remain in existence.
For now, anyway, that fight for survival will take place on Defense Distributed’s home turf, though the case brought by Grewal and the anti-gun attorneys general is still proceeding in federal court in Washington State as well. The legal battles are likely to continue for quite some time, but it’s great to see that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is taking the threats by New Jersey’s top law enforcement officer seriously.