States sue Trump administration to block 3D printed guns
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D) is planning to file a multistate lawsuit Monday to block the Trump administration from allowing criminals and terrorists to access downloadable plans for 3D printed weapons that are untraceable and undetectable.
Washington, along with seven other states and the District of Columbia, argue the administration’s decision to allow the public distribution of downloadable guns unconstitutionally infringes on states’ rights to regulate firearms and violates the Administrative Procedure Act.
“I have a question for the Trump Administration: Why are you allowing dangerous criminals easy access to weapons?” Ferguson said in a statement. “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. If the Trump Administration won’t keep us safe, we will.”
The government’s decision came in a settlement it reached in June with Defense Distributed to quietly end long-running litigation. The organization, which develops digital firearm files, sued the government in 2015 after the State Department forced all instruction manuals to be removed from the internet.
As a result of the settlement, Defense Distributed said in a statement on its website that it plans to relaunch its online library of files starting Aug. 1.
The lawsuit will ask the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington for a temporary restraining order, both to bar the federal government from lifting export controls for these tutorials, and to prevent Defense Distributed from posting the downloadable guns online, according to Ferguson’s office.
As part of the settlement, Ferguson’s office said the Trump administration agreed to temporarily waive export restrictions on Defense Distributed’s downloadable gun files, but said the administration must first get the concurrence of the Defense Department and give Congress a 30-day notice.
“The lawsuit alleges there is no evidence either of those steps have happened, which violates the Administrative Procedure Act,” Ferguson’s office said in a release.
The seven other states joining the lawsuit include Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Maryland and New York.
On Monday, Reps. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and Democratic Policy and Communications Committee co-chairman David Cicilline (D-R.I.) announced they will introduce a bill during Tuesday’s pro forma session to prohibit the manufacturing or possession of a 3D printed gun that’s made of plastic.
Because these plastic guns lack a serial number, they are essentially untraceable by law enforcement.
Cicilline called the results of the settlement with Defense Distributed a disaster waiting to happen given the country’s gun violence epidemic.
“We should be doing everything we can to make it more difficult for criminals, children, and individuals with serious mental illness to possess a gun. Instead, the Trump administration’s decision will open the floodgates and allow anyone with access to the internet and a 3D printer to possess a firearm,” he said in a statement.
“Even worse, these weapons are virtually undetectable by modern security devices used in airports, schools, and other would-be targets for mass shooters.”
Updated at 5:03 p.m.