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29 August 2018

3D-printed gun plans selling online after court order

Because or in spite of? Blueprints for 3D-printed guns temporarily blocked by a Seattle judge have been put online for sale.


The judge had granted a preliminary injunction to 19 state attorneys general who had sought to block the distribution of the blueprints, in the latest conflict involving public safety, freedom of speech and the right to bear arms.

Public safety concerns

Seattle Judge Robert Lasnik granted a preliminary injunction to block the online distribution of 3D-printed gun part designs until the case is resolved in court. Judge Lasnik acknowledged the public safety concerns in the injunction and said that the court can't rule on the free speech issue since it's an emerging debate alongside the rapid development of the internet. Blueprints for 3D-printed gun parts show how to use plastic parts that can make a gun untraceable and undetectable because they don't have serial numbers and are not subject to the standard procedures that cover regular firearms. Anyone with a computer can buy the design files from Defense Distributed and print them out using a 3D printer. He wrote, ‘the court finds that the irreparable burdens on the private defendants' first amendment rights are dwarfed by the irreparable harms the states are likely to suffer if the existing restrictions are withdrawn.’" Lasnik wrote. He  stated the public interest strongly supports maintaining the status quo, thus maintaining a block on the distribution of 3D-printed gun designs.

Following orders?

Defense Distributed argues that publication of the blueprints should be allowed on free speech grounds, but the federal judge sided with those concerned about public safety. Following the ruling, Bob Ferguson, Washington state attorney general and one of the 19 state plaintiffs, applauded the decision ‘once again, I'm glad we put a stop to this dangerous policy,.’ He spoke too soon. Defense Distributed made its plans available online for purchase at a suggested retail price of $10, which means that you can offer $0.01 and still purchase it, and had received nearly 400 orders within 24 hours according to the Associated Press. Cody Wilson, the owner of Defense Distributed, explained the court permitted the email, mail, sale and other transfers of the files, and he will follow the judge's order, which appears to be the case here. Judge Lasnik had stated, ‘Regulation under the AECA means that the files cannot be uploaded to the internet, but they can be emailed, mailed, securely transmitted, or otherwise published within the United States.’ The case can be read here.

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