Over the weekend I looked at the imminent release of a collection of 3-D printable gun designs and the frantic efforts of gun control advocates to prevent it from happening. The deadline for action was originally supposed to be midnight tonight, but apparently, the files became available last night. In either case, the wheels of justice would need to be moving far, far faster than is their normal routine if anything was to happen. Surprisingly, opponents of the release were able to push some judges to begin issuing orders in record time, but only at the state level.
The first example comes to us from Pennsylvania, where a judge might not be able to block the release, but will at least attempt to stop residents from downloading the files. (CBS Philadelphia)
Pennsylvanians will not be able to download plans to make 3D-printable guns.
The decision comes after a rare Sunday night emergency hearing in Federal Court. Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Governor Tom Wolf, and Pennsylvania State Police sued to block the company that distributes those plans.
The company, called Defense Distributed, agreed to block Pennsylvania users from its sites.
So when the files have all gone public (assuming they haven’t already), Pennsylvania residents won’t be able to download them… at least in theory. But the Keystone State wasn’t the only place this was happening. Out in Seattle, seven other states in addition to Pennsylvania opened a lawsuit against the Trump administration over the decision. Those states were Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Oregon, Maryland, New York and the District of Columbia. They’re asking the courts to overturn the Justice Department decision to settle with Cody Wilson, the founder of Defense Distributed, allowing him to move forward with the release. (Associated Press)
Eight states are filing suit 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.
The suit, filed Monday in Seattle, asks a judge to block the federal government’s late-June settlement with Defense Distributed, which allowed the company to make the plans available online. Officials say that 1,000 people have already downloaded blueprints for AR-15 rifles.
“I have a question for the Trump Administration: Why are you allowing dangerous criminals easy access to weapons?” Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, a Democrat, said in a statement Monday. “These downloadable guns are unregistered and very difficult to detect, even with metal detectors, and will be available to anyone regardless of age, mental health or criminal history.”
This has now fully decayed from a policy battle to a political battle. The cat has long since been out of the bag, as I pointed out this weekend. Before the original order stopping Wilson from publishing the files was put in place, more than 100,000 downloads took place. Now thousands more are out there in the world, and not just on the dark web. If you own a 3-D printer and have the money and materials required, you can now begin producing plastic guns. (Keeping in mind that federal law forbids making weapons which can’t be detected by a metal detector or x-ray, so you’re taking your chances there.)
My question for the states bringing this lawsuit is, what are we supposed to do now? Outlaw 3-D printers? It’s one of the most useful technologies to arise in the 21st century, particularly in the field of medical research. I know this phrase is getting beaten to death lately, but the 3-D genie is out of the bottle. Many people are publishing files allowing owners of these printers to produce firearms. Aside from trying to score a few points in the midterms, I’m not entirely sure what you’re trying to accomplish here.