States sue over rules that allow release of 3D-printed gun blueprints – Naked Security

A coalition of states is suing the Trump administration in an effort to stop it from making it easier for people to make 3D-printed guns.

Specifically, top law enforcement officials are trying to keep the administration from allowing people to post blueprints online to print what are sometimes called “ghost guns”: unregistered, untraceable firearms that are tough to detect, even with a metal detector.

The lawsuit was filed in Seattle on Thursday. The office for Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in an announcement that the lawsuit has been brought by attorneys general in 20 states and the District of Columbia.

Law enforcement officials have for years been trying to raise awareness of the dangers of 3D-printed ghost guns. One such was used by Eric McGinnis: a Dallas man who was arrested in 2017 after police heard him shooting rounds in the woods.

McGinnis had tried to buy a gun but failed the background check after attacking his girlfriend the year before. When police searched him, they found a partially 3D-printed rifle, along with a hit list that included the names of federal lawmakers.

These things aren’t all plastic

A word about that “partially printed” 3D rifle: the notion of 3D printing will likely conjure images of an end product made entirely from printed plastic. However, most things aren’t made from a single material, and in the case of printed guns, that means printed plastic parts that are joined with essential metal components.

In other words, 3D printed parts don’t need to be the end product: they can, rather, assist in the fabrication of the end product – for example, besides the plastic bits of a printed gun, 3D printing can also assist in rifling the metal barrels for shotguns.

Multiple suits

Thursday’s lawsuit isn’t the first go-round when it comes to suing the government over the sharing of 3D-printed gun plans online. In July 2018, Ferguson led a similar multi-state lawsuit, suing the administration for ”giving dangerous individuals access to 3D printed firearms.”

In November 2019, a federal judge in Seattle agreed with the plaintiffs, ruling that it’s illegal to deregulate downloadable gun files. Besides illegal, it’s also “arbitrary” and “capricious”, Judge Robert Lasnik ruled.

Here’s Ferguson, from Thursday’s press release:

Why is the Trump Administration working so hard to allow domestic abusers, felons and terrorists access to untraceable, undetectable 3D-printed guns?

Even the president himself said in a tweet that this decision didn’t make any sense – one of the rare instances when I agreed with him. We will continue to stand up against this unlawful, dangerous policy.

Proponents of the administration’s attempts say that it’s citizens’ constitutional right to get at 3D gun blueprints. Hampering the posting of such content would violate the First Amendment protection of freedom of expression, they claim, as well as the Second Amendment’s protection of Americans’ right to keep and bear arms.

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