States sue Trump administration to try to block 3D-printed guns

Published: July 31, 2018 6:15 AM EDT
Updated: July 31, 2018 7:43 AM EDT
FILE - In this May 10, 2013, file photo, Cody Wilson holds what he calls a Liberator pistol that was completely made on a 3-D-printer at his home in Austin, Texas. Eight states filed suit Monday, July 30, 2018, against the Trump administration over its decision to allow a Texas company to publish downloadable blueprints for a 3D-printed gun, contending the hard-to-trace plastic weapons are a boon to terrorists and criminals and threaten public safety. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP, File)

Eight states and the District of Columbia sued the Trump administration Monday over its decision to allow a Texas company to publish blueprints for untraceable 3D-printed homemade guns. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington by the attorneys general of New York, Washington, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.

But it may already be too late.

Five years ago, Cody Wilson launched what he now calls “the era of the downloadable gun,” a time when anyone can use a 3D printer to make a working firearm.

That era is set to begin at midnight Wednesday. Wilson’s company Defense Distributed plans to publish digital blueprints for people to make their own firearms, including AR-15 style assault rifles. The 3D plastic weapons would be untraceable and require no background check.

In California last year, Kevin Janson Neal used a homemade metal assault rifle to kill his wife and four others, avoiding a court order meant to block his access to a firearm.

“When it comes to something as basic as public safety, our State Department’s saying, hey, this is a giveaway for terrorists,” said Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

He is one of nine attorneys general taking part in the suit, hoping to stop Wilson’s company from publishing the gun blueprints on Wednesday.

In addition, more than 20 state attorneys general have asked to intervene in the name of “public safety and national security.”

But Defense Distributed began distributing the gun files earlier and by Sunday 1,000 people had already downloaded blueprints for an AR-15 style weapon.

In a new countersuit, Wilson’s legal team argues his company is simply defending the right to bear arms. States have a little more than 24 hours to file their lawsuits and win a temporary judgment before the blueprints go online.