US judge blocks release of blueprints of 3D guns

AFP, CHICAGO

Thu, Aug 02, 2018 - Page 7

A US judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked the online publication of blueprints for 3D-printed firearms, in a last-ditch effort to stop a settlement US President Donald Trump’s administration had reached with the company releasing the digital documents.

Eight states and Washington had filed a lawsuit against the federal government, calling its settlement with Texas-based Defense Distributed “arbitrary and capricious.”

Trump’s administration had settled a five-year legal fight by permitting the company to publish its Web site Defcad — which founder Cody Wilson envisioned as a WikiLeaks for homemade firearms called “ghost guns.”

Those weapons can be manufactured using 3D printers or personal steel mills, and lack traceable serial numbers.

US District Judge Robert Lasnik in Seattle granted the plaintiffs’ motion for a temporary restraining order blocking the release of the digital plans.

He also scheduled a hearing for Friday next week.

In a written statement, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, one of plaintiffs, called the ruling “a major victory for common sense and public safety.”

“As we argued in the suit we filed yesterday, it is — simply — crazy to give criminals the tools to build untraceable, undetectable 3D printed guns at the touch of a button. Yet that’s exactly what the Trump administration decided to allow,” she said.

As uproar mounted on Tuesday, the White House expressed skepticism over the legality of Wilson’s efforts, even though the administration had green-lighted the project.

Trump weighed in on Twitter, revealing that he had spoken to the US’ main pro-gun lobby, the National Rifle Association (NRA), about the topic.

“I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public,” he said. “Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!”

While Wilson has become the public face of homemade weapons technology, the phenomenon of “ghost guns” is bigger than his Web site.

Los Angeles police last month showcased an arsenal of such weapons seized from gang members during a six-month undercover operation, including AR-15-style semiautomatic rifles.