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Ban of plans for 3D-printed guns raises thorny First Amendment issues

A federal district judge stopped the publication of instructions for printing guns at home on 3D printers but admitted that the order could well violate the First Amendment. States concerned about public safety are suing in federal court to stop 3D-printed guns. The case may come down to whether computer code constitutes speech or is considered an object and beyond First Amendment protection. (Chicago Tribune, August 2, 2018, by Noah Feldman of Bloomberg News)

Without taking a stand on the issue, law professor Eugene Volokh in Reason, August 2, 2018, offers a description of the complexities of the issue using the hypothetical case of whether a federal law banning public distribution of plans for 3D-printed guns would violate the First Amendment.

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