Early this week, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced a multi-state lawsuit against the Trump Administration’s action to make the blueprints for 3D-printed firearms available for download online. The weapons – which are made from plastic and range from an AR-15 style rifle to a Beretta M9 handgun – lack traceable serial numbers, are invisible to metal detectors, and can be made from home by anyone with access to a 3D printer.
The unrestricted distribution of these blueprints was made possible by an abrupt settlement made between the Trump Administration and Defense Distributed in late June. Defense Distributed is a nonprofit organization led by Cody Wilson that is committed to providing open-source, downloadable 3D-printed weapons online.
The settlement comes on the heels of a years-long litigation process between Wilson and the federal government that began when Wilson was required to remove blueprints from the internet in 2013, which were downloaded over 100,000 times during the short period they were available. In 2015, the founder of Defense Distributed sued the federal government for violating his First Amendment rights by limiting his free speech online; two federal judges successfully argued that the blueprints violate firearm export laws, and the Supreme Court declined to hear the case.
In late June, however, the Trump Administration reversed and settled the case in an action described by Ferguson as “arbitrary and capricious.” News of this action was not made public until July 10. In the settlement, the Trump Administration granted permission to Defense Distributed to upload gun-printing manuals to the internet starting August 1.
To block this action, Ferguson filed a lawsuit on July 30 in the federal court in Seattle that argues that the settlement violates the Administrative Procedure Act — which requires an administration to seek approval from the Department of Defense and give 30 days’ notice to Congress in order to suspend export restrictions — as well as the Tenth Amendment, which guarantees each state the right to regulate firearms. Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Maryland, New York, and the District of Columbia are all joining the Washington-led lawsuit.
“I have a question for the Trump Administration,” Ferguson said in a statement.”Why are you allowing dangerous criminals easy access to weapons? 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 day after Ferguson filed his 32nd lawsuit against the Trump Administration, U.S District Court Judge Robert Lasnik of Western Washington granted a temporary restraining order that prevented Wilson from uploading the printable plastic gun blueprints yesterday. The issue will go back to court on August 10.