Cody Wilson's nonprofit Defense Distributed released a fundraising ad on Monday as part of a campaign asking gun-rights supporters to raise $400,000 for the legal fight surrounding whether or not gun designs can be published on the internet.
Wilson said the legal struggle is one that implicates First Amendment rights just as much as Second Amendment rights.
"Now 21 states would sue me across this country so eager to kill your Second Amendment that they would take the First," Wilson said in the video.
In an email to supporters, Defense Distributed said they are currently being sued by 21 different attorneys general in multiple different courts to prevent the publishing of the documents. The group said that they had thus far self-funded their legal efforts in cooperation with the Second Amendment Foundation. The group now says it needs help to keep up with the costs.
"In July, you may have heard that Defense Distributed won a settlement from the US Dept of State to publish gun blueprints online," the email said. "We, in fact, received a license from the federal government to publish our software, and we consider it a landmark victory for the 1st and 2nd Amendments, hard-won after many years in federal court. But on the day we began publishing files at DEFCAD.com, preparing to open the site for new members, we faced a tidal wave of lawsuits from Blue State Democrat attorneys general. We are being sued by 21* states across four venues in this country. Having funded the last five years of fighting through our own business, we must now ask for help shouldering the burden."
Wilson and Defense Distributed faced a disruption to their business selling CNC machines designed for use with gun parts earlier this month when online sales platform Shopify abruptly terminated their account. Wilson told the Free Beacon at the time that he moved his storefront to a different service provider, but the downtime cost him money nonetheless. Shopify later renounced their commitment to free speech, updated their terms of service, and canceled the accounts of most gun retailers as well.
Other gun-rights activists who've posted the gun designs Wilson has been restrained from publishing have faced similar efforts to censor their efforts from large tech platforms. All links to CodeIsFreeSpeech.com were banned from Facebook and the site, run by a coalition of gun-rights groups, was taken off of Amazon's web hosting service earlier this month. Unlike Wilson, however, CodeIsFreeSpeech.com has not had any legal action taken against it.
Wilson got a new ally in court late last week when the Department of Justice filed a brief defending the State Department against the attorneys general. The DOJ said the AGs attempt to invalidate the State Department's settlement with Wilson was misguided and that their opponents misunderstood what was at issue in the case. It further asserted the State Department has the authority to enter into the settlement allowing Wilson to publish the designs and said there was not enough evidence to support the AGs' request that the court override the executive branch's decision.
In the fundraising video, Wilson went on to promise two new projects if Defense Distributed is able to reach its goals. The first project will be unlocked at the $200,000 mark. The second will be unlocked at $400,000. Wilson did not provide details on what the projects would entail.
"What are we? We call ourselves Defense Distributed," Wilson said in the video. "We're a defense contractor. We don't contract with the state. We contract with the public. So, I'd like to come to terms. If you will fund this fight for me, I will offer two new contracts to you."
The fundraising campaign had already raised $23,000 at the time of this publication.