The Trump administration’s approval of untraceable, undetectable guns created with 3-D printers was stopped in its tracks today (Aug. 27) by a federal judge, who issued a preliminary injunction in response to a lawsuit filed by eight state Attorneys General.
New York Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood, who is leading the effort, called it “another victory for common sense and public safety.”
The Trump administration approved the distribution of plans that would allow anyone with a 3D printer to make untraceable and virtually undetectable guns.
“It is, simply, crazy to give criminals the tools to build untraceable, undetectable 3-D printed guns at the touch of a button. Yet that’s exactly what the Trump administration is allowing,” said Underwood when the motion was filed.
The lawsuit, State of Washington, et al., v. Unites States Department of State, was filed in the U.S. District Court in Seattle, Wash. This decision follows a temporary restraining order issued in the case last month.
The court noted that the “threat level” against citizens in their daily lives has “increased year after year” because of the proliferation of handguns.
All of the plaintiff states “has endured assassinations or assassination attempts and school shootings during the past 20 years in Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Connecticut, Illinois, California, Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Maryland, Iowa, Hawaii, Minnesota, New York and New Jersey.
“Plaintiffs have a legitimate fear that adding undetectable and untraceable guns to the arsenal of weaponry already available will likely increase the threat of gun violence they and their people experience,” the court said in its ruling.
Twenty-one state attorneys general sent a letter Monday to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, urging the government to withdraw from the settlement, according to CNN.
The National Rifle Association, which represents gun makers, has yet to issue a statement on the matter, perhaps understandably, since 3D printed guns would cut into sales of gun manufacturers.
Three-D printers cost anywhere from $4,000 to $200, depending on the size and the quality of the printing.
In 2015, during the Obama administration, the U.S. State Department forced the removal of the instruction manuals from the internet.
The federal government successfully argued that the manuals violate firearm export laws before a federal trial court and federal appeals court. The United States Supreme Court declined to hear the case.
But Defense Distributed, an organization dedicated to global distribution of open-source, downloadable 3D-printed guns, sued the federal government over the ruling.
Following Trump’s election, the federal government last month abruptly settled the case.
As part of the deal, the Trump Administration will allow the downloadable guns for unlimited public distribution in any form. This will give anyone with a 3-D printer access to the weapons.
Defense Distributed recently announced that it would upload the data files to the internet, essentially giving plug-and-play access to guns.
The Attorneys General argue that Trump’s actions violates the Administrative Procedure Act and the Tenth Amendment. They will also ask the court for a nationwide temporary restraining order.
“[The] proposed export of undetectable firearms technology could be used in an assassination, for the manufacture of spare parts by embargoed nations, terrorist groups, or to compromise aviation security overseas in a manner specifically directed at U.S. persons,” the law enforcement officers argue.
A federal judge in the Western District of Texas in 2015 rejected Defense Distributed’s effort to temporarily block the government’s regulation of its materials, finding that “facilitating global access to firearms undoubtedly increases the possibility of outbreak or escalation of conflict.”
After the appeal of that decision was rejected, and the Supreme Court declined to hear it, the federal government moved to dismiss Defense Distributed’s lawsuit in April of this year, accoring to a statement.
It argued that the downloadable guns “can unquestionably facilitate the creation of defense articles abroad” and that “the Department of State has consistently and reasonably concluded that it is not possible to meaningfully curtail the overseas dissemination of arms if unfettered access to technical data essential to the production of those arms is permitted.”
“The government surprised the plaintiffs by suddenly offering them a settlement with essentially everything they wanted,” according to Wired magazine.
The settlement agreement was only made public July 10.