In its settlement with Cody Wilson’s Defense Distributed the government admitted that semi-automatic firearms below .50 caliber are not weapons of war.
On July 10, 2018, Breitbart News reported that the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) brought a suit against the State Department on Wilson’s behalf. The suit was filed in 2015 and was the result of State Department action to force Wilson to quit sharing 3-D gun files online.
Wilson and SAF fought the suit on First Amendment grounds and secured a settlement with the State Department and the Department of Justice, the latter of which finalizes the settlement.
The amended regulations proposed in the settlement show the government will no longer look at semi-automatic firearms below .50 caliber as “military equipment” or weapons of war.
In offering a definition of “military equipment” the settlement says:
The phrase “Military Equipment” means (1) Drums and other magazines for firearms to 50 caliber (12.7 mm) inclusive with a capacity greater than 50 rounds, regardless of the jurisdiction of the firearm, and specially designed parts and components therefor; (2) Parts and components specifically designed for conversion of a semi-automatic firearm to a fully automatic firearm; (3) Accessories or attachments specifically designed to automatically stabilize aim (other than gun rests) or for automatic targeting, and specifically designed parts and components therefor.
Attorneys in the case expounded on the amended regulations by pointing out that the settlement “expressly acknowledges that non-automatic firearms up to .50 caliber widely available in retail outlets in the United States and abroad [a scope that includes AR-15 and other assault-style rifles], are not inherently military.”
Second Amendment Foundation founder and executive vice president Alan Gottlieb spoke to Breitbart News about the settlement, saying:
Not only is this a First Amendment victory for free speech, it also is a devastating blow to the gun prohibition lobby. For years, anti-gunners have contended that modern semi-automatic sport-utility rifles are so-called “weapons of war,” and with this settlement, the government has acknowledged they are nothing of the sort.
The federal government now saying semi-automatic firearms below .50 caliber are not inherently military means that they are admitting that rifles like the AR-15 are civilian in nature. This makes perfect sense, as they existed years before the military adopted the fully automatic version.
Gottlieb added, “Gun rights organizations like the Second Amendment Foundation will now be able to use this government admission in debate and courtrooms from New York to California.”
AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News, the host of the Breitbart podcast Bullets with AWR Hawkins, and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.