Judge blocks distribution of 3D-printed gun blueprints until case is resolved

A federal judge in Seattle granted a motion for a preliminary injunction on Monday that blocks a Texas man f...

Posted: Aug 28, 2018 5:54 PM
Updated: Aug 28, 2018 5:54 PM

A federal judge in Seattle granted a motion for a preliminary injunction on Monday that blocks a Texas man from releasing downloadable blueprints for 3D-printed guns until the litigation is resolved, according to court documents obtained by CNN.

Judge Robert S. Lasnik of the US District Court for Western Washington extended an earlier temporary restraining order, which will remain in place until the case is resolved, the court documents state.

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"The court finds that the irreparable burdens on the private defendants' First Amendment rights are dwarfed by the irreparable harms the states are likely to suffer if the existing restrictions are withdrawn and that, overall, the public interest strongly supports maintaining the status quo through the pendency of this litigation," Lasnik wrote in the ruling.

The ruling comes as part of a yearslong battle between the federal government and Defense Distributed, an organization that in 2013 posted designs for a 3D-printed handgun called the Liberator. The pistol was made out of ABS plastic, the same material used in Lego blocks, and could be made on a 3D printer.

The US government ordered the blueprints be taken down that year, and the company's founder, Cody Wilson, sued the government in 2015. The Trump administration settled the case in June, and the 3D weapon blueprints were scheduled to be posted online August 1.

However, Washington state and other states sued to block the release of the blueprints that day. Lasnik sided with the states and temporarily blocked the settlement, although more than 1,000 people downloaded the designs before the judge's decision.

Wilson has told CNN he believes he is allowed to publish the blueprints under his First Amendment rights. However, critics argue the weapons would not have serial numbers and so would be untraceable and available to people without a background check.

Wilson said he will unveil a "national plan of action" on Tuesday in response to the ruling.

President Donald Trump criticized the idea of 3D-printed guns being sold to the public, tweeting in July that it "doesn't seem to make much sense!"

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who filed the lawsuit, questioned why Wilson and the government had made an agreement in the first place.

"Once again, I'm glad we put a stop to this dangerous policy," Ferguson said in a statement. "But I have to ask a simple question: Why is the Trump administration working so hard to allow these untraceable, undetectable 3D-printed guns to be available to domestic abusers, felons and terrorists?"

The Undetectable Firearms Act already makes it illegal to own or make homemade plastic guns, officials say. A metal firing pin and a piece of metal are included in Defense Distributed's 3D-printed gun so it complies with the law.

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