Litigation Highlight: State of Washington v. United States Department of State

This case traces its beginnings to a nonprofit by the name of Defense Distributed. Defense Distributed’s avowed purpose is to facilitate “global access to, and the collaborative production of, information and knowledge related to the three-dimensional (3D) printing of arms.” To that end, in 2013 the organization published computer aided design (CAD) data files that would enable users to print various guns using a 3D printer. The Department of State promptly advised Defense Distributed to take down the files, and later found that some (though not all) of the CAD files were subject to and in violation of the Arms Export Control Act’s (AECA’s) implementing regulations, the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. The AECA authorizes the President to control the importation and exportation of defense articles in “furtherance of world peace and the security of foreign policy of the United States.”

What’s in a name? The Evolution of the Term “Gun”

The 1828 edition of the American Dictionary of the English Language (which Justice Scalia cited in District of Columbia v. Heller when he defined “arms,” “keep,” “carry,” and “militia”) defined “gun” as “[a]n instrument consisting of a barrel or tube of iron or other metal fixed in a stock, from which balls, shot, or other deadly weapons are discharged by the explosion of gunpowder. The larger species of guns are called cannon; and the small species are called muskets, carbines, fowling pieces, &c. But one species of fire-arms, the pistol, is never called a gun.”

Minors and Firearms: A Divided Nation

In my last blog series, I discussed laws currently in the Repository of Historical Gun Laws that relate to the category “Felons, Foreigners and Others Deemed Dangerous By the State.”

I have begun wading into a new category on the Repository over the past few weeks: “Possession By, Use of, and Sales to Minors.” Recently, I organized these laws into three groups: (1) laws that address all firearms, (2) laws that address concealable weapons or weapons worn concealed, and (3) laws that address only pistols and revolvers. I translated these groups onto a map, and what emerged was a hard line across the country, dividing the map into the North and the South.

Miniseries, Part III – Felons and Persons with a Mental Impairment

[Ed. Note: As we discussed here, this post is part of a three-part series on gun laws in the Center’s Repository of Historical Gun Laws, written by Center research assistant Catie Carberry. This post, like the Repository, is exemplary and not exhaustive.]

Felons

Were bans on convicts possessing firearms “unknown before World War I?”

Miniseries, Part II – Disarmament of those Disaffected to the Cause of America

[Ed. Note: As we discussed here, this post is part of a three-part series on gun laws in the Center’s Repository of Historical Gun Laws, written by Center research assistant Catie Carberry. This post, like the Repository, is exemplary and not exhaustive.]

Who was disarmed at the time of the founding?

Miniseries, Part I – A Brief Overview of Laws Addressing Nonresidents and Aliens

[Ed. Note: As we discussed here, this post is part of a three-part series on gun laws in the Center’s Repository of Historical Gun Laws, written by Center research assistant Catie Carberry. This post, like the Repository, is exemplary and not exhaustive.]

Are laws banning aliens from keeping guns a “post-World War I phenomenon?”