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24 state attorneys general sign letter asking Trump admin to ban 3D-printed gun blueprints

The Liberator, a 3-D printed handgun created by Cody Wilson of Defense Distributed. (Defense Distributed/Facebook)
April 19, 2020

In an open letter to Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, 24 state Attorneys General asked the Trump administration to ban 3D-printed gun blueprints online.

The Attorneys General claim in the letter that a ban is necessary because 3D-printed firearms will result in unnecessary deaths, and 3D-printed guns are illegal and can pass undetected by traditional metal detectors.

“If the federal government fails to act, these files will be distributed widely with potentially grave consequences for our national and domestic security,” warns the letter.

The states’ Attorneys General included are: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. Washington, D.C.’s Attorney General joined in the effort, too.

The AGs specifically warn against the 3D-printing of the “Liberator,” a single-shot pistol. They also say that nonprofit digital publishing firm Defense Distributed, which distributes the 3D gun blueprints on its Defcad website, is evading federal prosecution and characterized its founder Cody Wilson, a “crypto-anarchist.”

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The Trump administration settled with Defense Distributed in a federal civil lawsuit in July 2018, effectively making some methods of 3D-printing of parts legal and allowing Defcad to continue operating. However, a federal judge in Washington, U.S. District Judge Richard Jones, granted a request by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson in March for a preliminary injunction while a lawsuit from the AGs proceeds.

“The Court must acknowledge the grave reality that is likely to occur without injunctive relief,” Jones wrote, according to Seattle PI. “As the (government’s) specific findings on the record show, the proliferation of 3D gun files on the Internet likely renders ineffective arms embargoes, export controls and other measures used to restrict the availability of uniquely dangerous weapons sought by those seeking to commit acts of terrorism or other serious crimes.”

Wilson has been banned from several platforms, including publishing his book on Amazon.com. His book, “The Liberator Code Book: An Exercise in Freedom of Speech,” was banned from the site in August 2018.

“The purpose of this exercise is to give a physical analogy between computer code and books. Code is speech,” the book’s description said. “This is a printed copy of .step files for the Liberator, and not much else. Don’t expect a gripping narrative; that’s being played out in the news and the courts.”

While lawmakers debate the legality of 3D-printed firearms and the spread of firearm blueprints, many aspects of untraceable parts of firearms, such as untraceable ammunition, have been illegal for decades under the Undetectable Firearms Act.