DOJ Allows 3-D Printed Guns

Grind for July 18th, 2018
FIRST SIP:
“Time well spent results in more money to spend, more money to save, and more time to vacation.”

– Zig Ziglar



Taking Charge

The Headline

New EPA head promises to be a “stabilizing force” after Pruitt’s resignation

The Grind

Former EPA head Scott Pruitt resigned last month following a string of controversies regarding his spending within the agency and his life in Washington, DC.

Pruitt was replaced by Andrew Wheeler, a former lobbyist for the coal industry who had served as Pruitt’s second-in-command.

While Pruitt and Wheeler both subscribe to President Donald Trump’s deregulatory agenda, supporters hope Wheeler’s style will make the president’s goals easier to realize. More than anything else, energy companies and trade groups are hoping Wheeler will lead the EPA with a steady hand.

“I do want to be a stabilizing force,” Wheeler told The Wall Street Journal, adding that he hopes to avoid the distractions that have plagued the agency in recent months.

The Details

Wheeler, age 53, assumes leadership at a time when the EPA seeks to shift from simply announcing rollbacks to introducing detailed policies that will make those rollbacks stick.

“It is sort of an ideal transition,” said Rich Gold, head of lobbying firm Holland & Knight LLP. “You’re bringing in the mechanic who’s been under the hood and understood how things have worked for years…Andy is a serious person and is much more formidable to environmentalists and Democrats in terms of finalizing agency actions that can survive challenges.”

Among Wheeler’s key priorities is to reinstate a review process for all regulatory proposals – as was the norm during the Bush and Obama years. The process, while time-consuming, will ensure that all new policies are on firm legal footing.

The change is good news for industry lobbyists who fear environmental groups will win court challenges that overturn the Trump administration’s environmental agenda.

It’s also a sharp contrast to Pruitt, who issued weak regulatory changes that were vulnerable to legal attacks. Some of those changes have already lost in court.

Environmentalists seem to have accepted Wheeler without too much fuss.

“We have no illusions that major policies are going to change. We’re going to disagree,” said Collin O’Mara, president of the National Wildlife Federation. “But he tends to be more collaborative. He gets experts involved in decision making…There are going to be some areas where we can make progress.”



Controversial

The Headline

DOJ settles with Second Amendment Foundation, allows Defense Distributed to publish plans for 3-D printed guns

The Background

Defense Distributed (DD) is an Texas-based startup that organizes, promotes, and distributes technology for home gun-makers.

This technology includes plans for 3-D printed guns.

In 2013, John Kerry’s State Department told Defense Distributed that its gun-making files represent a violation of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).

Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson teamed up with the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) to sue the State Department on free speech grounds.

Last fall, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the State Department.

The News

This week, the DOJ reached a settlement with the SAF which allows Wilson to distribute his gun-making software. Under the agreement, Americans may “access, discuss, use, reproduce, or otherwise benefit from the technical data” that the feds had previously ordered DD to cease distributing.

In the settlement, the government acknowledged that “non-automatic firearms up to .50 caliber…are not inherently military.” The government also agreed to pay nearly $40,000 of the plaintiffs’ legal and administrative fees.

“Not only is this a First Amendment victory for free speech but it also is a devastating blow to the gun prohibition lobby,” said SAF founder Alan M. Gottlieb. “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.”




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