On June 29th, a settlement between the Justice Department and Defense Distributed, the organization responsible for the creation and proliferation of 3-D gun files and manuals online, effectively legalized the unlimited distribution of these files. Lawmakers and Attorneys General across the country are now scrambling to block these files from being distributed before an August 1st deadline, when Cody Wilson, the head of Defense Distributed, said he would upload many more files, including instructions for making an AR-15 style rifle.
On Monday, 20 state Attorneys Generals announced they are suing the State Department and Defense Distributed, and asking for an immediate restraining order to prevent the company from distributing these files. The lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood argues that the settlement violates the Constitution's Tenth Amendment by infringing on states’ rights to regulate firearms, and that it violates the Administrative Procedure Act.
"It is, simply, crazy to give criminals the tools to build untraceable, undetectable 3-D printed guns at the touch of a button. Yet that's exactly what the Trump administration is allowing,” said Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood in a statement. “We won't stand by as New Yorkers’ safety is jeopardized by this abrupt about-face by the federal government.”
Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a cease and desist letter to Defense Distributed, and directed State Police "to issue a notice reminding New Yorkers that manufacturing assault weapons—including with 3D printers—is illegal in New York."
In New Jersey, in response to a lawsuit by Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, Wilson agreed not to post any more files until a September hearing.
Yet these lawsuits and legislative actions may be too late, since Wilson told WIRED that he has already uploaded files for 10 entire guns, including all components for semi-automatic rifles, which have been downloaded thousands of times.
Wilson's case against the government is unique in the way it brings together both First and Second Amendment arguments. His lawyers argued that the government's ban not only infringes on his right to bear arms, but his right to freely share information. Wilson's 2015 lawsuit was not only supported by the Second Amendment Foundation, but the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, reports WIRED.
"The culture of homemade, unregulated guns it fosters could make firearms available to even those people who practically every American agrees shouldn’t possess them: felons, minors, and the mentally ill," writes Andy Greenberg in WIRED.
But while the NRA has called the technology a form of "freedom and innovation," President Trump tweeted that after speaking to the NRA, he believes 3-D guns "doesn't make much sense."
For context: Remember that the NRA and 3-D printed gun group Defense Distributed aren't on the same side of this issue. The NRA wants to sell guns, not let people download and print them. https://t.co/JkeFxDhnBQ
— Andy Greenberg (@a_greenberg) July 31, 2018
It's currently unclear if Trump's tweet will lead to any concrete action preventing the dissemination of 3-D guns.
“Donald Trump will be totally responsible for every downloadable plastic AR-15 that will be roaming the streets of our country if he does not act today, because beginning tonight at 12:01 a.m., bad people can go on Instagram and get an insta-gun.” Senator Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, said on Capitol Hill today.
A federal judge in Seattle, U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik, granted a motion filed by Attorney General Underwood and eight other Attorneys General for a nationwide temporary restraining order on the distribution of 3-D gun files.
"As we argued in the suit we filed yesterday, it is - simply - crazy to give criminals the tools to build untraceable, undetectable 3-D printed guns at the touch of a button. Yet that's exactly what the Trump administration decided to allow. We went to court to protect New Yorkers - and we will continue to do what's necessary to ensure our public safety. I'm grateful to Attorney General Ferguson and my fellow Attorneys General for our continued, successful partnership on this and so many other issues,” said Underwood in a statement today.