Judge blocks release of blueprints for 3D-printed guns

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, third right, speaks with media members following a hearing where a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order to stop the release of blueprints to make untraceable and undetectable 3D-printed plastic guns, Tuesday, July 31, 2018, in Seattle. Ferguson was among eight Democratic attorneys general who filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to block the federal government's settlement with the company that makes the plans available online. They also sought a restraining order, arguing the 3D guns would be a safety risk. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

By MARTHA BELLISLE and MATTHEW DALY,  Associated Press  SEATTLE (AP) 08/01 — A federal judge on Tuesday stopped the release of blueprints to make untraceable and undetectable 3D-printed plastic guns as President Donald Trump questioned whether his administration should have agreed to allow the plans to be posted online.

The company behind the plans, Austin, Texas-based Defense Distributed, had reached a settlement with the federal government in June allowing it to make the plans for the guns available for download on Wednesday.

The restraining order from U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik in Seattle puts that plan on hold for now. “There is a possibility of irreparable harm because of the way these guns can be made,” he said.

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson called the ruling “a complete, total victory.”

In this May 10, 2013, file photo, Cody Wilson, the founder of Defense Distributed, shows a plastic handgun made on a 3D-printer at his home in Austin, Texas. Eight states filed suit Monday, July 30, 2018, against the Trump administration over its decision to allow a Texas company to publish downloadable blueprints for a 3D-printed gun, contending the hard-to-trace plastic weapons are a boon to terrorists and criminals and threaten public safety. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP, File)

 

“We were asking for a nationwide temporary restraining order putting a halt to this outrageous decision by the federal government to allow these 3D downloadable guns to be available around our country and around the world. He granted that relief,” Ferguson said at a news conference after the hearing. “That is significant.”

Eight Democratic attorneys general had filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to block the settlement. They also sought the restraining order, arguing the 3D guns would be a safety risk.

Congressional Democrats have urged President Donald Trump to reverse the decision to publish the plans. At a news conference Tuesday, Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal said that if Trump does not block sale, “Blood is going to be on his hands.”

Trump said Tuesday that he’s “looking into” the idea, saying making 3D plastic guns available to the public “doesn’t seem to make much sense!”

A suit filed in Seattle is asking a judge to block the federal government settlement allowing a company to post online blueprints for 3D-printable guns.

 

Trump tweeted that he has already spoken with the National Rifle Association about the downloadable directions a Texas company wants to provide for people to make 3D-printed guns. The guns are made of a hard plastic and are simple to assemble, easy to conceal and difficult to trace.

“We don’t agree with President Trump very much,” Washington state Assistant Attorney General Jeff Rupert told Lasnik, “but when he tweeted ‘this doesn’t make much sense,’ that’s something we agree with.”

After a yearslong court battle, the State Department in late June settled the case against Defense Distributed.

The settlement, which took gun-control advocates by surprise, allowed the company to resume posting blueprints for the hard-plastic guns at the end of July. Those plans were put on hold by the Seattle judge’s decision.

During the hearing in Seattle, Eric Soskin, a lawyer for the U.S. Justice Department, said they reached the settlement to allow the company to post the material online because the regulations were designed to restrict weapons that could be used in war, and the online guns were no different from the weapons that could be bought in a store.

Since the weapons “did not create a military advantage,” he told the judge, “how could the government justify regulating the data?”

But Rupert said a restraining order would keep the plans away from people who have learned about the technology and want to use it to get around gun laws.

Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., left, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Ct., display a photo of a plastic gun on Tuesday, July 31, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Democrats are calling on President Donald Trump to reverse an administration decision to allow a Texas company to make blueprints for a 3D-printed gun available online. (AP Photo/Matthew Daly)

 

Hours before the restraining order was issued, Democrats sounded the alarm, warning about “ghost guns” that can avoid detection and pose a deadly hazard.

The company’s website had said downloads would begin Wednesday, but blueprints for at least one gun — a plastic pistol called the Liberator — have been posted on the site since Friday. A lawyer for the company said he didn’t know how many blueprints had been downloaded since then.

Outrage over the administration decision is putting gun control back into the election-year political debate, but with a high-tech twist.

The president seemed to express surprise. He said on Twitter he was looking into the idea of a company providing plans to the public for printing guns, and he said it “doesn’t seem to make much sense!”

Democrats agreed and said Trump had the power to stop it.

Some Republicans also expressed concern.

“Even as a strong supporter of the Second Amendment — this is not right,” Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski tweeted, linking to a news story on the guns.

The NRA said in a statement that “anti-gun politicians” and some members of the news media wrongly claim that 3D printing technology “will allow for the production and widespread proliferation of undetectable plastic firearms.”

In truth, “undetectable plastic guns have been illegal for 30 years,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA’s political arm. A federal law passed in 1988 — crafted with NRA support — bars the manufacture, sale or possession of an undetectable firearm.

Trump spokesman Hogan Gidley made much the same point, saying the administration supports the law against wholly plastic guns, including those made with a 3D printer.

But Democrats called the law weak and said gun users can get around it by using weapons with a removable metal block that the gun doesn’t need in order to function.

Democrats filed legislation that would prohibit the publication of a digital file online that allows a 3D printer to manufacture a firearm. Democrats also filed a separate bill to require that all guns have at least one non-removable component made of metal so they can be discovered by metal detectors.

People can use the blueprints to manufacture plastic guns using a 3D printer. But industry experts have expressed doubts that criminals would go to the trouble, since the printers needed to make the guns can cost thousands of dollars, the guns themselves tend to disintegrate quickly and traditional firearms are easy to come by.

___

Associated Press writers Catherine Lucey in Washington and Lisa Marie Pane in Boise, Idaho, contributed to this story.

https://www.apnews.com/0c55d778df35412dbac0be6444917bc7/Judge-blocks-release-of-blueprints-for-3D-printed-guns

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

Posted in: Court Rulings, Dept. of Justice, Firearms, Gun Control, Judges, Politics, Public Safety, Restraining Orders

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Terms of Use for Posting Comments

Terms of Use

This site (the “Site”) is operated and maintained by Law Enforcement Education Foundation, Corporation (“Company”). Throughout the Site, the terms “we”, “us” and “our” refer to Company.  The words “user,” “you” and “your” as used herein refer to you.

Please read these terms and conditions of use (“Terms of Use”) carefully before contributing content. If you do not agree to these Terms of Use, please do not contribute content. Your use of the Site is subject to the Terms and Conditions found here .

By contributing content to the Site, you represent and warrant that you are at least eighteen (18) years old and that you have read and understand these Terms of Use and any amendments thereto and agree to be bound by them. If you are not at least eighteen (18) years old or you do not agree and accept these Terms of Use, you are prohibited from contributing content.

From time to time, we may permit users to submit content to the Site.  You hereby acknowledge and agree that by submitting remarks, comments, suggestions, ideas, graphics, feedback, edits, concepts, comments, photographs, illustrations and other materials (other than personal information and/or registration information) through the Site (individually and collectively, “Submissions”), you (i) grant us a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, transferable, irrevocable and fully sub-licensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, translate, distribute, publish, create derivative works from and publicly display and perform such Submissions throughout the world in any media, now known or hereafter created, without attribution to you; (ii) grant us the right to pursue at law any person or entity that violates your and/or our rights in your Submissions; and (iii) forever waive any and all of your rights, including but not limited to moral rights, if any, in and to your Submissions, including, without limitation, any all rights or requirements of attribution or identification of you as the author of the Submission or any derivative thereof.  We reserve the right to remove any of your Submissions from the Site, in whole or in part, without notice to you, for any reason or no reason.

Submissions are made voluntarily. Any submissions which include personally identifiable information are subject to our Privacy Policy found here .  You may not upload or otherwise publish content on the Site that (i) is confidential to you or any third party; (ii) is untrue, inaccurate, false or other than an original work of your authorship; (iii) that relates to or impersonates any other person; (iv) violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property rights of any person or entity; (v) contains any content, personally identifiable information or other information, or materials of any kind that relate or refer to any other person or entity other than the provider of the products, goods or services to which the Submission relates; or (vi) violates any law, or in any manner infringes or interferes with the rights of others, including but not limited to the use of names, information, or materials that (A) libel, defame, or invade the privacy of any third party, (B) are obscene or pornographic, (C) are harmful, threatening, offensive, abusive, harassing, vulgar, false or inaccurate, racially, sexually, ethnically or are otherwise objectionable or otherwise contrary to the laws of any place where such Submissions may be accessed; (D) constitute personal attacks on other individuals; (E) promote criminal, immoral or illegal activity; (F) promote or advertise any person, product or service or solicit funds; or (G) are deemed confidential by any contract or policy.

You are solely responsible for any Submissions you make and their accuracy. We take no responsibility and assume no liability for any Submissions posted by you or any third party.

Unless approved by us in writing in advance, you agree not to: (i) provide or create a link to the Site; or (ii) create any frames at any other sites pertaining to any of the content located on the Site.

We reserve the right, in our discretion, to update, change or replace any part of these Terms of Use for Posting Comments by posting updates and/or changes to our Site.  It is your responsibility to check this page periodically for changes.  Your continued use of, and/or access to the Site, following the posting of any changes to these Terms of Use for Posting Comments, constitutes your acceptance of those changes.