States Go on Offensive After 3D-Printed Gun Settlement

FILE – This May 10, 2013, file photo shows a plastic pistol that was completely made on a 3D-printer at a home in Austin, Texas. A coalition of gun-control groups has filed an appeal in federal court seeking to block a recent Trump administration ruling that will allow the publication of blueprints to build a 3D-printed firearm. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP, File)

PHILADELPHIA (CN) – With a settlement in Texas auguring the era of the 3D-printed gun, Pennsylvania won a federal injunction Sunday to keep downloadable firearms out of the hands of its citizens. On Monday, at least 20 other states followed suit.

“The harm to Pennsylvanians would have been immediate and irreversible,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a statement following the emergency hearing. “Defense Distributed was promising to distribute guns in Pennsylvania in reckless disregard of the state laws that apply to gun sales and purchases in our commonwealth. Once these untraceable guns are on our streets and in our schools, we can never get them back.”

Shapiro brought his lawsuit on the heels of a settlement that Texas-based Defense Distributed reached Friday with the U.S. government in a long-running case.

Though the company indicated after the settlement that it would make its 3D gun files available on Aug. 1, Shapiro said 1,000 people had downloaded 3D plans as of Friday for AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifles.

“The threat of untraceable guns in the hands of unknown owners is too daunting to stand by and not take action,” Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said in a statement. “Attorney General Shapiro and I will fight to protect Pennsylvania families and children. The federal government has abdicated its responsibility to keep our citizens safe but we will not be deterred from working to ensure Pennsylvania safety laws are followed and our residents are protected from these dangerous weapons getting in the wrong hands.”

As part of the Friday settlement, the State Department agreed to cover Defense Distributed’s attorney fees, which amounted to nearly $40,000.

Defense Distributed brought a lawsuit that same afternoon in Austin to block litigation being threatened by New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and Los Angeles City Attorney Michael Feuer.

The company is represented by Houston attorney Josh Blackman and by Alan Gura of Alexandria, Virginia.

Cody Wilson, who founded Defense Distributed, told Ars Technica on Friday that the files in question have been available on torrent sites for years.

“Basically the spin is different now,” Wilson said. “There isn’t the need for the subterranean Dark Web. It can be done in the clearnet and in the light of day and reputable places.”

New Jersey’s Grewal wrote an open letter last month in which he demanded that ghost gun manufacturers “stop selling and advertising unregistered and unserialized assault weapons to New Jersey residents.”

Meanwhile in Seattle on Monday, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson brought a federal complaint on behalf of multiple states, labeling the Defense Distributed settlement a failure of the Trump administration.

“I have a question for the Trump administration: Why are you allowing dangerous criminals easy access to weapons?” Ferguson said in a statement. “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.”

Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Maryland, New York and the District of Columbia joined Washington’s lawsuit. Ars Technica says the case is supported by 20 states in total.

Representatives for Defense Distributed have not returned an email seeking comment.

“The age of the downloadable gun formally begins,” its website states.

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