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Anti-gun groups scramble to block 3-D firearm blueprints available Aug. 1

The 3D printed .380 handgun, "DD Liberator." (Justin Pickard/Flickr)
July 27, 2018

On Aug. 1, blueprints for 3D-printable guns will be available online as a result of a lawsuit – but gun control groups aren’t happy.

After a multi-year lawsuit against the State Department, Cody Wilson won the right to post his blueprints online for the public to download. Now, gun control groups are rushing to find ways to block the plans over fears of untraceable, homemade guns flooding the country, Vice News reported this week.

Wilson, 29, created a 3-D printable pistol called the “Liberator .380” in 2012. He posted the blueprints online, which received more than 100,000 downloads before federal officials ordered him to take down the blueprints over claims of international export law violations.

Along with the Second Amendment Foundation, Wilson sued the State Department for violation of his free speech, and a multi-year legal battle ensued. The State Department decided to quietly settle the lawsuit this past June.

The settlement nullified the Obama Administration’s approach to 3-D printed guns as a public safety and national security threat.

Since the June settlement, gun control groups have been writing to the Trump Administration demanding to know why the position has changed. The groups have also threatened lawsuits against Wilson, and are considering legislation that would block his blueprints from appearing online.

Gun control groups including The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence filed jointly for an emergency restraining order against Wilson.

A hearing was held on Thursday at the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in Austin.

The groups collectively wrote a letter to a Texas federal judge, saying: “The resulting settlement agreement, if carried through, threatens to undermine national security by authorizing the posting and downloading of computer files allowing the fabrication of dangerous make-at-home firearms by any person anywhere in the world.”

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal issued a “cease and desist” letter to Wilson’s company, Defense Distributed, to threaten legal action if Wilson makes the blueprints available to New Jersey residents.

“Defense Distributed’s plans to allow anyone with a 3-D printer to download a code and create a fully operational gun directly threatens the public safety of New Jersey’s residents,” Grewal argued in the letter.

“Posting this material online is no different than driving to New Jersey and handing out hard-copy files on any street corner. The federal government is no longer willing to stop Defense Distributed from publishing this dangerous code, and so New Jersey must step up,” he added.

New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez briefly mentioned the issue during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday, requesting that Pompeo review the settlement.

“I understand that despite its ability to stop this ridiculous notion, the State Department is about to allow internet posting of do-it-yourself 3D-printable firearm blueprints,” Menendez said. “Why on earth would the Trump Administration make it easier for terrorists and gunmen to produce undetectable plastic guns?”

Gun control advocates fear that the untraceable “ghost guns” that lack serial numbers will be assembled in homes and become used in an increasing number of violent crimes.

However, the 3-D printing process is an expensive undertaking for the average American – 3-D printers cost between $5,000 and $600,000, and printing firearms requires high-quality plastics to maintain structural integrity after multiple uses.

New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer warned that Congress will pursue measures to halt the publication of the blueprints.

He argued: “Sadly, the feds are not only shoulder-shrugging this threat to public safety by refusing to fully enforce laws already on the books, but they could be sowing the seeds of real disaster by allowing dangerous ghost gun blueprints to be shared freely online.”

Florida Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch also spoke out against the settlement, claiming: “The Trump Administration’s decision to settle this case will only worsen the gun violence epidemic in America.”

“We shouldn’t have to wait for someone to kill someone in a House office building after sneaking past security with a plastic 3D-printed gun to do something to stop this. And we can’t let another day go by allowing the paralysis and dysfunction of Congress to prevent us from making our communities safe,” he said.

Those opposing the settlement have not included clear details on how they plan to block the blueprints.

At-home assembly of firearms is currently legal as long as the firearms are not sold.