By Tiffany Hsu and Alan Feuer
© 2018 New York Times News Service
Gun control proponents and state officials are racing the clock to try to block blueprints to make guns from 3D printers from going online Wednesday.
The varied efforts, in courthouses and legislatures, are aimed at Defense Distributed, a Texas-based nonprofit organization that won permission in June from the State Department to post schematics for homemade firearms. The largely plastic guns would be invisible to background checks and untraceable by law enforcement.
On Monday, nine states and the District of Columbia filed a joint lawsuit in federal court in Seattle calling on the Trump administration to stop the plans from being posted, and seeking a nationwide temporary restraining order. The action was filed by Bob Ferguson, the attorney general of Washington state, who said, “If the Trump administration won’t keep us safe, we will.”
Joining were attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Pennsylvania.
Separately, 21 state attorneys general sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday, saying that the State Department’s decision was “deeply dangerous and could have an unprecedented impact on public safety.”
In Pennsylvania, state officials Sunday won a temporary agreement from Defense Distributed to bar state residents from downloading the plans.
But Cody Wilson, who founded Defense Distributed, said he would file a motion to free his company from the agreement.
The battle dates to 2013, when the State Department ordered Wilson to remove from his website plans for making guns with a 3D printer, saying that they violated export regulations dealing with sensitive military hardware and technology.
Wilson sued in 2015, arguing that his weapons’ plans were a form of speech and that his First Amendment rights were being stifled. In June, the government entered into what it called a voluntary settlement of the case following negotiations, and agreed to pay nearly $40,000 of Wilson’s legal costs. Wilson said he would make the plans available Aug. 1.
In fact, the site began offering the plans late last week, and by early Monday evening, blueprints for 3D printed AR-15 semi-automatic rifles had been downloaded more than 2,500 times, according to Wilson. Other gun blueprints have been available in dark corners of the internet for years.