In Seattle, a federal judge allowed a motion to go forward for a preliminary injunction to prohibit the release of downloadable blueprints for 3D-printed firearms until litigation over the issue is resolved. Judge Robert S. Lasnik of the U.S. District Court for Western Washington has extended a previous temporary restraining order that will now remain in place until the case is resolved. 

"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Amendment rights are dwarfed by the irreparable harms the States are likely to suffer if the existing restrictions are withdrawn and that, overall, the public interest strongly supports maintaining the status quo through the pendency of this litigation," Lasnik wrote in court documents released on Monday. He said that the Trump administration’s actions "not only impact national security but have domestic repercussions as well."

Lasnik’s ruling came as part of an ongoing litigation between the federal government and Defense Distributed of Texas. In 2013, the latter posted online designs for a 3D-printed handgun called the Liberator. Made of ABS plastic, the firearm can be fabricated on a 3D printer. Later that year, the federal government ordered Defense Distributed to take the plans down. In 2015, company founder Cody Wilson sued the federal government.  Lasnik was nominated to the bench by Bill Clinton and was confirmed by the Senate in 1998.

In June, the Trump administration settled the case, which allowed for posting the 3D weapon blueprints on August 1. However, the state of Washington and 18 other states sued to block the their release. By temporarily blocking the settlement, Judge Lasnik sided with the states while more than 1,000 people downloaded the designs before the his decision.

Wilson believes that he should be able to publish the blueprints under First Amendment rights. The states suing the Trump administration contend that the weapons would be untraceable and available to terrorists, criminals, and other people without a background check.
President Donald Trump appeared to oppose the production of 3D-printed guns and their sale to the public. He tweeted in July that it "doesn't seem to make much sense!"

Questioning why Wilson and the federal government had reached a settlement, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who filed the lawsuit, said in a statement, "Once again, I'm glad we put a stop to this dangerous policy." Ferguson added, "But I have to ask a simple question: why is the Trump Administration working so hard to allow these untraceable, undetectable 3D-printed guns to be available to domestic abusers, felons and terrorists?"

Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood released a statement touting Judge Lasnik’s decision. “In yet another victory for common sense and public safety, today a federal court granted our motion for a nationwide preliminary injunction – continuing to block the Trump administration from allowing the distribution of 3-D printed gun files. This decision follows the temporary restraining order we secured last month. As the court pointed out, we filed suit because of the legitimate fear that adding these undetectable and untraceable guns to the arsenal of available weaponry will only increase the threat of gun violence against our communities.”

On August 1, Chris W. Cox of the National Rifle Association released a statement on 3-D guns. Cox said, “Many anti-gun politicians and members of the media have wrongly claimed that 3-D printing technology will allow for the production and widespread proliferation of undetectable plastic firearms. Regardless of what a person may be able to publish on the Internet, undetectable plastic guns have been illegal for 30 years. Federal law passed in 1988, crafted with the NRA’s support, makes it unlawful to manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, possess, transfer, or receive an undetectable firearm.”

The court’s opinion states in part:

“The plaintiff States and the District of Columbia, as sovereigns, represent more than 160 million people, many of whom have seen the threat level of their daily lives increase year after year. The District of Columbia, New York, California, Virginia, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have all endured assassinations or assassination attempts. School shootings involving students of all ages have occurred in Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Connecticut, Illinois, California, Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Maryland, Iowa, Hawaii, Minnesota, New York, and New Jersey during the past twenty years. During the same time frame, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Minnesota, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland have experienced workplace shootings with multiple victims. And, of course, hijackers were able to crash airplanes into fields and buildings in Pennsylvania, New York, and the District of Columbia/Virginia in 2001. Plaintiffs have a legitimate fear that adding undetectable and untraceable guns to the arsenal of weaponry already available will likely increase the threat of gun violence they and their people experience.”

Click here to read the full preliminary injunction.

Available for sale to online customers are versions of a U.S. Army manual that details how to fabricate explosives and munitions in guerrilla operations. 
 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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