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Federal judge blocks the release of 3D-printed gun blueprints

Blueprints for the guns were set to be published online on August 1.

Liberator pistol in the hands of software engineer Travis Lerol in 2013. The single-shot gun is the first that can be made entirely from plastic parts forged with a 3D printer. (CREDIT: Robert MacPherson/AFP/Getty Images)
Liberator pistol in the hands of software engineer Travis Lerol in 2013. The single-shot gun is the first that can be made entirely from plastic parts forged with a 3D printer. (CREDIT: Robert MacPherson/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Lasnik issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday blocking the release of blueprints for untraceable and undetectable 3D-printed plastic guns, originally slated to be published online Wednesday.

Lasnik said in his ruling that there were “serious First Amendment issues” that need to be addressed, and for the time being, there should be “no posting of instructions of how to produce 3-D guns on the internet,” the New York Times reported.

The ruling comes just one day after eight attorneys general filed a lawsuit seeking to force Trump administration to prevent the downloadable plans for the guns from being published online.

Lasnik said Tuesday that the attorneys general had sufficiently established “a likelihood of irreparable harm.”

In addition to the lawsuit, 20 state attorneys general penned a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday, asking the two officials to withdraw from a settlement between their respective departments that would allow for the blueprints to be posted on August 1.

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“As the chief law enforcement officers of our states, we believe the settlement terms and proposed rules are deeply dangerous and could have an unprecedented impact on public safety. In addition to helping arm terrorists and transnational criminals, the settlement and proposed rules would provide another path to gun ownership for people who are prohibited by federal and state law from possessing firearms,” the attorneys general wrote.

“Federal courts have recognized the danger of allowing these guns to be publicly available on the Internet, and this administration has abruptly disregarded those rulings.”

In June, the Trump administration reached a settlement with Defense Distributed, a pro-gun nonprofit organization, that allowed the group to publish the printable gun plans online. According to the settlement, the blueprints weren’t supposed to be online until Wednesday but according to the office of Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, more than 1,000 people had already downloaded plans to print an AR-15 style semiautomatic assault rifle.

As ThinkProgress’ Kira Lerner previously reported, gun control groups have raised serious concerns with 3D-printed guns, saying they “can be obtained without a background check, can’t be identified by metal detectors, and do not have serial numbers that can be traced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms” — meaning they could easily fall into the wrong hands.