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Amazon and Reddit are the latest to join in the fight against 3D printed gun files, banning the computer codes in various forms from their respective platforms early last week.
“Content is prohibited if it uses Reddit to solicit or facilitate any transaction or gift involving certain goods and services. You may not use Reddit to solicit or facilitate any transaction or gift involving certain goods and services, including: firearms, ammunition, explosives, or 3D printing files to produce firearms,” the Account and Community Restriction stated.
The policy change raised flags in the sub-reddit “NOWTTYG: No One Wants To Take Your Guns,” a section of the site dedicated to indexing news stories regarding bans and confiscations of firearms and firearm related content. Reaction was swift.
“Oooh, ‘memba (sic) a couple months ago when they were spamming their users with messages about fighting back against the evil corporations that wanted to censor, restrict, and/or block portions of the free exchange of info. over the internet?” Redditor SnarkyUsernamed posted.
“I just think it’s important that every one know Reddit doesn’t want gun related content on its site as (sic) is more than happy to restrict the free exchange of ideas it finds problematic,” Gunsmyth replied.
A few days after the Reddit change, online retailer Amazon jumped on the anti-3D bandwagon pulling The Liberator Code Book: An Exercise in Freedom of Speech from its self-publishing book storefront. Within the confines of the 584-page printed book were computer codes for the Liberator — a plastic pistol — that could be copied and fed to a 3-D printer.
On July 31, a federal judge blocked the company behind the Liberator’s code, Defense Distributed, from publishing the files through a temporary restraining order. The Liberator Code Book went live on Amazon’s self-publishing platform on Aug. 1.
The book is not the workings of Defense Distributed founder and Liberator creator Cody Wilson, but rather author CJ Aewelow, a supporter of Free Speech and the Second Amendment, who used the open source files to create the book. Aewelow’s description on Amazon said proceeds from the sale of the book would be donated to fight for both the First and Second Amendment.
“Code is speech,” The Washington Post reported, “Proceeds will be used to fight for free speech and the right to bear arms.”
The book was removed from Amazon just a few days after it launched, disappearing without a trace on Aug. 22. An Amazon spokesman told The Washington Free Beacon that the move was due to a violation of content guidelines.
According to Kindle Direct Publishing content guidelines, the retailer can ban the publication of pornography, offensive content, illegal and infringing content, public domain and other non-exclusive content as well as books causing a “poor customer experience.”
The Washington Free Beacon said its source within Amazon would not elaborate on exactly which guideline the book violated.
“This book was removed for violating our content guidelines,” Jack Evans, an Amazon spokeman, told the publication. “Don’t have any additional comment beyond what I’ve shared.”
Interestingly, Amazon still allows the sale of controversial titles and instruction manuals such as The Anarchist’s Cookbook, The U.S. Army Improvised Munitions Handbook and the U.S. Department of the Army Field Manual on Boobytraps.
No word yet on whether the book will migrate to another retail platform.
The move by both Reddit and Amazon to eradicate 3D printed gun files is the latest in a series of attempts by retailers aimed at preventing the gun codes from being shared openly on the internet and to consumers.
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The American Civil Liberties Union is siding with the National Rifle Association in the gun rights group’s fight with Gov. Andrew Cuomo over insurance regulation in the state.
Arguing that an effort to bar any nonprofit advocacy group from the ability to use financial services because it promotes a lawful activity steps on Free Speech, the ACLU filed a 25-page friend-of-the-court brief Friday in support of the NRA’s lawsuit against New York. The Second Amendment group is locked in a legal battle against the Empire State over what the organization characterizes as politically motivated investigations into NRA-branded self-defense insurance.
While admitting the NRA is “no stranger to hardball tactics,” and David Cole, the ACLU’s legal director, says that in the end, the ACLU is still in favor of gun control, he also holds that the Cuomo administration may have passed a line in its handling of the gun group.
“Public officials are, of course, free to criticize groups with which they disagree,” Cole said. “But they cannot use their regulatory authority to penalize advocacy groups by threatening companies that do business with those groups. And here the state has admitted, in its own words, that it focused on the NRA and other groups, not because of any illegal conduct, but because they engage in ‘gun promotion’ — in other words, because they advocate a lawful activity.”
Cuomo’s administration cautioned banks, insurance companies and lenders against involvement with the NRA specifically. The guidance issued by Cuomo came from the state’s Department of Financial Services on April 19 in the form of official letters to all DFS-regulated insurers and banks in the state. In the missives, Financial Services Superintendent Maria Vullo urged financial institutions to examine their relationships with the NRA and organizations that promote guns to take “prompt actions to manage these risks” when it came to protecting their corporate reputations.
Pointing to the public backlash on gun rights groups and firearm companies in the wake of high-profile mass shootings that have dominated the news cycle, Vullo encouraged those regulated by her agency that “Corporations are demonstrating that business can lead the way and bring about the kind of positive social change needed to minimize the chance that we will witness more of these senseless tragedies.”
The NRA contends in its case that the letters have no connection with the DFS’s regulatory mission and unfairly target the member organization in an effort to make it a pariah when it came to access to insurance and legal services in New York. The group says that, besides imposing millions in fines on two insurers who underwrote the NRA’s Carry Guard insurance program, the actions by Vullo have also scared away other banks and insurers in the state from doing business with them.
In their brief to the federal court in the lawsuit, the ACLU says if the NRA’s allegations are dismissed without a day in court — which is sought by New York — it would set a “dangerous precedent for advocacy groups across the political spectrum,” going on to say that public officials would “have a ready-made playbook for abusing their regulatory power to harm disfavored advocacy groups without triggering judicial scrutiny.”
While the two groups would seem like unlikely allies, it is not the first time they have been on the same side of the fence on a subject. In 2013, the NRA filed an amicus brief backing the ACLU in a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s massive phone-record collecting program that virtually tracks all the phone calls made in the U.S.
In 2015, the ACLU, in turn, backed a bill in Congress that aimed to dismantle an Obama administration program by the Social Security Administration to strip gun rights from recipients who received benefits through a representative payee. Although that drive tanked despite strong support from Republicans in the House, the ACLU and NRA, along with 23 national disability groups, backed a follow-on measure in 2017 that was signed into law by President Trump.
In other cases, the ACLU has gone it alone to represent an open carry activist who claimed he was illegally detained, searched and charged while protesting police, and has pushed back on some so-called “red flag” bills for being overly broad and ripe for potential abuse.
In California this month, the group has gone on record against a bill expanding mandatory gun bans from some with a history of seeking mental health treatment, saying it “stigmatizes people with a history of mental health issues, and perpetuates the harmful and false stereotype that such people are inherently violent and dangerous.”
Washington’s high court brushed aside a lower court’s ruling invalidating signatures gathered for I-1639 to expand laws about gun buying and storage due to questionable petitions.
In a unanimous ruling on Friday, the Washington Supreme Court said state law allows the court to weigh in on ballot petitions only in cases regarding counting signatures and not how petitions are structured.
The ruling reverses a lower court’s decision that agreed with gun rights supporters who said proposed changes to the law were written in too small a type and that changes were not clearly marked.
The 30-page ballot referendum aims to mandate new guidelines for semi-auto rifles under state law including raising the buying age from 18 to 21, adding fees, training requirements, waiting periods and additional background checks going beyond federal guidelines.
Barring further legal actions, I-1639 will be on the November ballot in Washington, leaving gun rights groups to sway voters against it before election day — a prospect with a poor track record along the deep-blue I-5 corridor — or fight it on constitutional grounds should it become law.
Alliance for Gun Responsibility collected signatures for the measure. The effort received some $4.4 million in funding, the majority of which donated by six different people and groups, according to the Washington Public Disclosure Commission.
The primary donors were Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen — who has chipped in just over $1.2 million– along with Nick, Leslie and Lenore Hanauer who have contributed $1.3 million between them. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his wife Connie have tossed another $1 million into the pot. Everytown has contributed about $309,000 in cash and support.
Most of the funds went to the consulting firm AAP Holding Company, of California. The company has managed other successful signature-gathering efforts for gun control initiatives in Maine, Washington and California. Paid signature gatherers have a long history in Washington state, with AAP, in the end, making about $2.63 per signature filed on I-1639.
In opposition of the measure, the Washingtonians, the National Rifle Association for Freedom, and Save Our Security raised about $120,000 for the No on I-1639 effort. Put into perspective, the initiative backers have outraised their pro-gun opponents by a factor of 37-to-1.
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Three people died this weekend after a man opened fire during a video game competition at an open-air mall in Florida.
Law enforcement said the suspected gunman, 24-year-old David Katz, struck at least 12 people attending a Madden NFL 19 Classic tournament at GLHF Game Bar inside Chicago Pizza, a restaurant located at the Landing in downtown Jacksonville, Florida.
Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said Katz, of Baltimore, killed two others before turning the gun on himself shortly after 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Nine more — including seven gunshot victims — were injured in the attack, he said, and are recovering at area medical centers. Two others checked themselves into local hospitals with reported gunshot wounds.
Williams told reporters law enforcement “won’t comment on a motive yet” and said the department will release more information as it becomes available.
There are inaccurate numbers being distributed by local and national media. This is fluid and as soon as we have confirmed numbers they will be released. Please remember this Twitter @JSOPIO is the only official source of information. https://t.co/qBJvkaO7xT
— Jax Sheriff's Office (@JSOPIO) August 26, 2018
“We have faced an occurrence that is all too common,” Mayor Lenny Curry said Sunday night during a news conference. “Tonight, we pray for the wounded and we pray for the families of those who were lost.”
The shooting unfolded in front of thousands of online viewers. Contestants — complete with advertising deals — traveled to Jacksonville to compete in the tourney for a $5,000 cash prize and hopes to advance into the Las Vegas finals, scheduled for October. One of them, Drini Gjoka, tweeted after fleeing the restaurant amid of flurry of gunshots.
The tourney just got shot up. Im leavinng and never coming back
— Drini Gjoka (@YoungDrini) August 26, 2018
I am literally so lucky. The bullet hit my thumb
— Drini Gjoka (@YoungDrini) August 26, 2018
Williams confirmed the department retains a copy of a video of the shooting captured on a player’s live stream. He did not divulge the contents of the video to reporters Sunday.
EA Sports, the game company responsible for producing Madden, released a statement on social media expressing shock and grief over the situation.
This is a horrible situation, and our deepest sympathies go out to all involved.
— EA SPORTS Madden NFL (@EAMaddenNFL) August 26, 2018
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A Florida teen died last week after gunfire erupted during a high school football game.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said 19-year-old Joerod Jamel Adams died Friday during the season opening game between William M. Raines High School and Robert E. Lee High School on the city’s northside.
Adams’ friend, a 17-year-old male student at Raines, and an unrelated 16-year-old female student from Lee, also sustained non-life-threatening gunshot wounds, according to law enforcement.
Police said Adams and the male victim were attending the game together and both had known ties to street gangs. It’s unclear if the shooting was related to earlier disturbances reported during the game, but it appears the two teens were targeted. The female victim was struck by a stray bullet, according to police.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry released a statement over the weekend condemning gang violence and urged city leaders to join him in combating the problem. “I have stressed that we must redouble our commitment to showing young people that crime and violence is not the path,” he said.
“This is becoming our new normal, one that I am not willing to just openly accept, however, as a community, we all have to stand up and say this unacceptable,” said Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene. “It is not acceptable that we as a community cannot come together to watch a football game without the evening descending into violence.”
The district will provide grief counselors for students and have already begun talks with “school principals, district leadership and community members to discuss safety and security protocols, procedures and solutions.”
“All protocols were followed with wanding every individual that came inside the stadium. All law enforcement personnel were within their designated locations protecting inside the stadium as well as on the outside perimeter and violence was still able to happen,” Greene said. “This is a community issue. It calls for everyone to stand up and not accept this type of behavior.”
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