Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Seattle, WA, United States (4E) – 3D-printed plastic guns that can fire live ammunition won’t be printed like hotcakes, thanks to a federal judge who blocked the gun’s developer from posting the weapon’s blueprints online.
Robert S. Lasnik, a Senior U.S. District Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, agreed with the state attorneys-general that the release of files from the 3D gun’s developer, Defense Distributed, would cause “a likelihood of irreparable harm.”
The eight states that filed a last-minute lawsuit to stop the release of the information sought a restraining order and an injunction to block the 3D gun info from being posted on the internet.
Founded by Cody Wilson, a right-wing gun nut and anarchist, Defense Distributed is an online, open-source organization developing digital firearms, which are also called “wiki weapons.” The company makes the blueprints for these guns downloadable on the Internet.
The guns can be built using either 3D printing or by using CNC milling machines. Defense Distributed said among its goals is to develop and freely publish firearms-related design schematics that can be downloaded and reproduced by anyone with a 3D printer or milling machine. Weapons produced in this manner are now known as “ghost guns.”
Defense Distributed wanted to release online the files for “The Liberator,” the world’s first completely 3D printed gun. Defense Distributed first made these printable STL files public on May 5, 2013. The U.S. Department of State, which was then under John Kerry, a few days later demanded the blueprints be removed from the Internet, citing a violation of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.
The State Department also asserted that Defense Distributed’s online distribution of plans for 3D printed weapons presented a threat to national security. Defense Distributed then sued the State Department on free speech grounds, but lost in a 2-1 decision in September 2017.
Defense Distributed asked for an en banc hearing of the case by the entire Fifth Circuit. Defense Distributed’s motion was denied in a 9-5 vote this July.
Despite these legal defeats, Defense Distributed reached a settlement with the State Department in July, which would have allowed it to release blueprints for guns that could be downloaded and built with 3D printers. Among the blueprints to be made available online were those for AR-15-like rifles.
Earlier legal rulings in New Jersey and Pennsylvania temporarily stopped Defense Distributed’s blueprints from being posted in those states.
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