Federal judge blocks last-ditch effort to stop release of 3D-printed gun blueprints

Starting next Wednesday, you'll be able to print deadly assault weapons at home.

CREDIT: Robert MacPherson/AFP/Getty Images
CREDIT: Robert MacPherson/AFP/Getty Images

A Texas federal judge allowed the release of 3D-printed gun blueprints on Friday, throwing out a motion from gun control groups attempting to halt the effort at the last minute.

Austin-based District Judge Robert Pitman rejected efforts from activists working to block the Trump administration from allowing public access to 3D printable guns, the designs for which are set to be released by the digital firearm group Defense Distributed. Cody Wilson, the organization’s founder, has said the designs will be released Wednesday. Activists attempted to intervene, including the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety, and the action group Giffords founded by former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ), a shooting survivor.

In a letter sent last week to Pitman, the groups called Wilson’s decision “troubling,” “dangerous” and “potentially illegal”, and asked the judge to stop the plans.

According to Reuters, the judge indicated he sympathized with with the concerns of gun control supporters but that they did not appear to have legal standing to intervene. Defense Distributed welcomed the ruling, while attorneys for the Brady Center declined to comment.

Defense Distributed reached a settlement with the U.S. government in June following years of back-and-forth over blueprints that would allow people to create deadly plastic guns at home. The blueprints were previously published but ordered taken down from the organization’s website in 2013 after around 100,000 downloads. Wilson, a radical libertarian, sued two years later, arguing that both his First and Second Amendment rights had been violated.


The blueprints include files for a plastic AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle, a weapon that has emerged as the tool of choice for a number of mass-shooters. According to UPI, the single shot pistol detailed by Defense Distributed is made predominately out of ABS plastic (the kind used for Legos) and additional metal parts.

Previously, the government maintained that the blueprints were a national security risk, something that abruptly changed in June, with no explanation given for the shift.

According to activists, 3D-printed guns can be obtained without a background check and lack serial numbers, making them harder to track. They can also likely pass through metal detectors, potentially allowing for an increased risk to the public. Gun industry experts, however, have claimed that printing guns is inconvenient and that plastic guns are a poor replacement for their traditional counterparts, making the option less than appealing for gun users.

It is unclear what further action might be taken to limit the printing of 3D guns or the distribution of such blueprints. The United States has the most mass shootings of any country in the world.