US judge blocks 3D printed gun blueprints hours before online release


August 01, 2018 15:10:22

A US judge has blocked the planned release of 3D-printed-gun blueprints hours before they were set to hit the internet.

Key points:

  • Judge Lasnik said the publication of the files are now illegal under federal law
  • He noted that the accessibility of 3D printers could lead to ‘irreparable harm’
  • Defense Distributed’s files include printing plans for AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifles

US district judge Robert Lasnik in Seattle said the blueprints’ publication could cause irreparable harm to US citizens, siding with states that sued to halt the publication of designs to make weapons that security screening may not detect.

The decision blocked a settlement President Donald Trump’s administration had reached with a Texas-based company, which initially said it planned to put files online on Wednesday (local time).

Gun-control proponents are concerned the weapons made from 3D printers are untraceable, undetectable “ghost” firearms that pose a threat to global security.

Some gun rights groups say the technology is expensive, the guns are unreliable and the threat is being overblown.

Josh Blackman, a lawyer for the company Defense Distributed, said during the hearing that blueprints had already been uploaded to the firm’s website on Friday.

The publication of those files is now illegal under federal law, Judge Lasnik said.

“There are 3D printers in public colleges and public spaces and there is the likelihood of potential irreparable harm,” he said at the end of a one-hour hearing on the lawsuit.

Defense Distributed and its founder, Cody Wilson, a self-declared anarchist, argued access to the online blueprints was guaranteed under First and Second Amendment rights — to free speech and to bear arms.

Judge Lasnik said First Amendment issues had to be looked at closely and set another hearing in the case for August 10.

In a comment apparently directed at Mr Wilson, the judge said breaking the law was something “anarchists do all the time”.

Eight states and the District of Columbia on Monday filed a lawsuit against the Government, arguing it acted arbitrarily in reaching the June settlement.

The states said online blueprints would allow criminals easy access to weapons.

They said the Trump administration had failed to explain why it settled the case and that its decision violated their ability to regulate firearms and keep citizens safe.

Defense Distributed’s files included 3D-printable blueprints for components that would go into the making of a version of the AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle, a weapon that has been used in many US mass shootings.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Trump raised concerns about the sale of plastic guns made with 3D printers and said on Twitter he had talked with the National Rifle Association about the weapons.

“I am looking into 3D Plastic Guns being sold to the public,” he said.

“Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense.”

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley later told reporters it was illegal, “to own or make a wholly plastic gun of any kind, including those made on a 3D printer”.

The NRA followed suit.

“Regardless of what a person may be able to publish on the internet, undetectable plastic guns have been illegal for 30 years,” Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, said in a statement.









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