Judge Mulls Injunction to Stop 3-D Gun Blueprints Online

California and other states with strict gun laws are watching a Texas court hearing intently, as the developer of online, "3-D printable" guns could be able to post the plans on Aug. 1. Photo Credit: Shanrilivan/Wikimedia Commons

Suzanne Potter

California News Service

AUSTIN, Texas – The age of the downloadable gun may be upon us, as a Texas federal judge weighs whether to stop the online posting of blueprints to make untraceable firearms.

Gun-violence prevention groups asked for an injunction at a last-ditch hearing yesterday. The Trump administration recently settled a lawsuit, clearing the way for the company Defense Distributed to post the material starting Aug. 1.

The plans would allow anyone with access to a 3-D printer to make a gun – including an AR-15, the type used in dozens of mass shootings.

David Chipman, a 25-year ATF agent and now senior policy adviser for the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, says this could circumvent background checks and make it impossible for police to link a gun to the person who used it after a shooting.

“I think the greatest fear is a very serious, violent criminal who couldn’t go into a store and pass a background check,” says Chipman, “that they would now be able to buy a printer and print a gun at home, outside the entire awareness of law enforcement.”

The founder of Defense Distributed, Cody Wilson, has said his blueprints would make guns so ubiquitous as to defeat all efforts at gun control. Gun-rights groups note that it’s already possible in the U.S. to buy gun parts online and assemble so-called “ghost guns.”

Jonathan Lowy, vice president of litigation for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, says it’s unclear why the Trump administration agreed to the blueprints’ release, since it had previously argued that they could be a boon to terrorist groups, would pass through metal detectors, and undermine strict gun laws in other countries.

“This could be used to ‘threaten U.S. national security, U.S. foreign policy interests, or international peace and stability,'” says Lowy. “And that’s the words of the government for the past five years, including the Trump administration, up until a few weeks ago.”

New Jersey’s attorney general has threatened imminent legal action if Defense Distributed doesn’t withdraw its plan to publish the blueprints, saying they would promote the fabrication of assault weapons that are illegal in that state.