A coalition of states is suing the Trump administration over new regulations that they say could allow for the online release of blueprints for 3D-printed firearms, which make it easier for anyone to access the files at home and make a functional plastic gun with a 3D printer.
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who is leading the effort to block the administration's rule, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington on Jan. 23, seeking an injunction to block the administration from implementing the new rules. Joining him in the federal lawsuit are 20 other state attorneys general, including from Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, New York, Colorado, and Massachusetts.
The administration says the new rules will significantly reduce the regulatory burden on the U.S. commercial firearms and ammunition industry as well as promote American exports. The rules will also prioritize national security controls and ensure that restrictions are still in place on "exports where human rights, illicit trafficking, and related issues may be of concern."
Ferguson and other state attorneys general argue that the rules are "unlawful" and will result in the deregulation of 3D-printed firearms because of "loopholes in the Commerce regulations." They claim that the department "will lack the power to regulate 3D-printed guns in any meaningful way."
The rule also states that certain software and technology that can be used to produce firearms when posted online is still being controlled under the new rules in order to protect national security and foreign policy interests, but the "communication of ideas regarding such software or technology is freely permitted."
The state officials are concerned about these 3D-printed weapons because they lack serial numbers, making them untraceable by authorities. They are also often made of plastic, meaning that they may not set off metal detectors at airports. They are also easy and cheap to make. Moreover, they could render current gun regulations unenforceable because people who are normally restricted from obtaining a gun could avoid background checks and other regulatory procedures. Due to these reasons, these weapons are often referred to as "ghost guns."
The Epoch Times contacted both the Departments of State and Commerce for comment on the lawsuit. A State Department spokesperson said that they do not comment on pending litigation as a matter of policy.
This is the second multi-state lawsuit Washington state has brought against the federal government in order to block the administration's effort to allow these blueprints from being published online. In July 2018, multiple states filed a lawsuit in the same district court arguing against the Trump administration's decision to let an open-source organization that publishes firearms-related designs online, Defense Distributed, distribute downloadable files for the production of 3D-printed guns online. The administration had just settled a dispute, which began in 2015, with the organization in June 2018, with the agreement allowing the organization to publicly distribute the files on the internet.
Some experts say that while 3D-printed guns are currently not as effective as conventional guns, they are also far less safe to use.
"A firearm receiver must be strong enough to safely withstand extreme amounts of pressure during firing," he added. "For example, the typical chamber pressure for a 9mm Luger handgun cartridge is 35,000psi. For that reason, it’s not uncommon for 3D-printed guns to explode after a shot or two. Obviously, this can be very dangerous for the shooter as well as for anyone standing nearby."