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Federal Judge Blocks Release of 3D Gun Models, But Defense Distributed Defies Court Ruling

Picture of Tyler Koslow
by Tyler Koslow
Aug 1, 2018

Following a controversial court settlement that allowed Defense Distributed to share 3D printable gun blueprints online this week, a federal judge in Seattle has stepped in to issue a temporary restraining order and stop the release. But the pro-gun rights organization seems to have other plans...

As you may have noticed from recent mainstream news coverage throughout the world, 3D printed guns have once again become a major source of heated debate.

In June, self-proclaimed crypto-anarchist Cody Wilson and his organization Defense Distributed reached a settlement with the federal government which allowed them to share 3D gun blueprints on their website starting on August 1, 2018. However, the plan to publicly release the DIY firearm designs has suddenly been thwarted by the US court system–at least for now.

On Tuesday, a federal judge in Seattle delivered a temporary restraining order to stop Defense Distributed from releasing the 3D printable gun files. US district judge Robert Lasnik, who issued the restraining order, shared his concerns about the matter and motive behind his decision:

“There is a possibility of irreparable harm because of the way these guns can be made.”

Learn more: 2018 3D Printed Gun Report - All You Need to Know

Shortly after, Defense Distributed took the downloadable models off of the website and issued its own statement:

“This site, after legally committing its files to the public domain through a license from the U.S. Department of State, has been ordered shut down by a federal judge in the Western District of Washington.”

Although Wilson initially appeared to accept the judge’s ruling and take the firearm blueprints down, it turns out that the models were just moved from the Defense Distributed website to a new home: CodeIsFreeSpeech.com.

The organization released a statement explaining the purpose behind the new CodeIsFreeSpeech.com platform. The website includes various download links for the Liberator and other 3D gun models, a list of pro-gun rights organizations and excerpts from the United States Constitution.

The organization originally agreed not to publish the files until August 1, 2018, but a handful of DIY firearm blueprints appeared on the Defense Distributed website five days early. According to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, it’s estimated that more than 1,000 people had already downloaded 3D plans for AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifles.

Wilson and his organization first appeared in the spotlight back in 2013 after they released the Liberator, which is a fully 3D printed pistol made from ABS plastic. The Liberator was one of the many 3D models shared on the Defense Distributed website before the designs were taken down.

Democrats Fight Against Decision to Allow 3D Printable Gun Models

Just one day prior to the issued restraining order, attorneys general from eight states and the District of Columbia sued the government to block the settlement, arguing that these untraceable DIY guns would be a major safety risk.

There was also a fair amount of pushback by Democratic leaders in Congress, many of whom were calling for the court to block Defense Distributed from sharing the blueprints.

“All you need is a little money and you can download a blueprint from the internet to make a gun at home. No background check. No criminal history check,” said New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader.

Led by Sen. Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), a handful of Democrats also filed legislation to attempt to prohibit 3D printable digital firearm files publication from going online.

Sen. Edward Markey and Sen. Richard Blumenthal

They also submitted another bill that would require all guns to have at least one non-removable component made of metal. The latter is intended to stop undetectable weapons from being slipped past metal detectors and other security measures.

Even President Donald Trump decided to share his thoughts about the settlement awarded by his own State Department, although his actual stance isn’t really made clear.

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

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 31, 2018

While many politicians and gun control activists are alarmed by the prospect of 3D printable guns being freely available, there are still questions about whether 3D printed guns are a serious threat or not. Various tests have shown that plastic 3D printed guns have a short lifespan and are prone to falling apart before firing off many shots.

Nevertheless, both the US government and the rest of the world are clearly taking this issue seriously, attempting to prevent DIY weapon blueprints from spilling out and creating a mess that many believe would be extremely difficult to clean up.

To learn more about 3D printed guns and the laws that aim to stop them, be sure to read our 2018 3D Printed Gun Report.

License: The text of "Federal Judge Blocks Release of 3D Gun Models, But Defense Distributed Defies Court Ruling" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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