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Federal judge blocks Trump administration from allowing publication of digital blueprints for 3D-printed guns

A gavel cracks down. (Airman 1st Class Aspen Reid/U.S. Air Force)

A federal judge in Washington has blocked the Trump administration from allowing a small Texas gun-technology company to publish its digital blueprints for 3D-printed firearms online.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Lasnick in his ruling issued Tuesday said the government violated federal law when the State Department in July 2018 agreed to allow blueprints for 3D-printed guns to be made available on the internet, The Detroit News reported. The agency under former President Obama had previously contended that export laws banning the foreign distribution of firearms should prevent the publication of the blueprints.

The State Department last summer though, reached a settlement with Cody Wilson, who is the owner of Defense Distributed. In 2013, Wilson claimed to have created the first working 3D-printed pistol – called the “Liberator” – and has been fighting for the right to share it online ever since.

Defense Distributed in a lawsuit argued that banning the blueprints was a violation of free speech.

Despite the 2018 legal victory, Wilson faced more push back than ever. Washington D.C., Washington state and 18 other states sued in wake of the settlement, prompting Lasnick to issue a an injunction against the Trump administration and the digital blue prints.

The judge in his 25-page ruling on Tuesday rejected the settlement as “arbitrary and capricious” as well as a violation of the federal Administrative Procedure Act and the Constitution. He additionally noted the U.S. State Department ignored several procedural steps, including giving Congress advanced notice, in overturning the ban.

What’s more, he said the Trump Administration did not “offer a reasoned explanation” for its reversal.

“Given the agency’s prior position regarding the need to regulate 3D-printed firearms and the CAD files used to manufacture them, it must do more than simply announce a contrary position,” Lasnick said.

Chad Flores, a lawyer for Houston-based Defense Distributed, said they intend to appeal the ruling.

“The first amendment protects the freedom of speech from all abridgment, including indirect censorship efforts like this one,” he told Bloomberg.

“And states aren’t allowed to commandeer the federal government to do their unconstitutional bidding, even under the guise of statutory technicalities.”


© 2019 New York Daily News