On Tuesday, a federal judge in Seattle temporarily blocked a Texas company from publishing blueprints for 3D-printed guns online. The decision came a day before the schematics were set to become legal, allowing anyone with a 3D printer to create an untraceable firearm.
How did we get here?
In 2013, Defense Distributed posted a YouTube video demonstrating what it said was a Liberator pistol made from 3D-printed parts. Founder Cody Wilson also posted designs for the gun online so other people could duplicate it, and they were downloaded about 100,000 times.
The U.S. State Department sent a cease-and-desist letter and accused Wilson of potentially breaching International Traffic in Arms Regulations. Wilson cooperated, but he sued the federal government in 2015, citing his right to free speech.
It was set to become legal on Aug. 1. In June, the company had reached a settlement with the U.S. government that allowed it to resume posting downloadable blueprints for 3D-printed guns.
Why didn’t it become legal?
On Monday, eight states filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, seeking to block the settlement agreement.
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who is leading the lawsuit, said, “The Trump administration recently chose to give access to potentially untraceable and undetectable firearms to any felon, domestic abuser or terrorist with a laptop and access to a 3D printer. Let me be clear: No background check, no waiting period, no serial number. Some of these 3D-printed guns are made with materials that will not set off a metal detector.”
President Trump also questioned his administration’s decision on the settlement.
I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 31, 2018
The Seattle federal judge scheduled a follow-up hearing on the issue for Aug. 10.