Downloadable guns

Downloadable guns
3-D printable guns pit the first amendment against public safety. (Shutterstock)

Judge prohibits online publishing of weapon schematics

Kevin Barnett/Reporter

SEATTLE — On July 31, a federal judge blocked Texas-based company, Defense Distributed, from releasing digital blueprints used for the production of 3-D printed plastic guns.

These DIY (do-it-yourself) weapons are commonly referred to as “ghost guns” because they are virtually untraceable. The weapons are printed without serial numbers and allow for makers to sidestep required background checks and registration requirements.

The ghost gun issue has been an ongoing legal battle since Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson made what is believed to be the first fully functioning 3-D printed gun and uploaded the design files to his website in 2013.

This initial file release compelled the Obama Administration to step in and force Wilson to stop publishing the blueprints online, which marked the beginning of the ongoing court battle.

Opponents argued that Wilson’s release of the schematics would essentially make it possible for anyone to have access to a firearm while bypassing a host of state and federal laws.

It seemed to be an inevitable victory for the government with multiple lower courts initially ruling against Wilson. But in June, President Donald Trump’s Justice Department abruptly abandoned the governments attempt to stop Wilson’s data release.

The court decision effectively sided with Wilson and allowed for the online publication of the blueprints at the end of July, as well as awarded him $40,000 for legal expenses.

The settlement saw immediate criticism and pushback from gun control advocates and prompted a joint lawsuit to be filed by eight state attorneys general seeking to block the settlement just days before the Aug. 1 data release date.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Lasnik found that the lawyers bringing the latest suit had established “a likelihood of irreparable harm” and granted a temporary nationwide injunction prohibiting the distribution of the schematics.

Wilson continues to stand behind his assertion that this is not a gun control issue but a free speech issue citing that his company does not produce weapons but is a purveyor of information and technology.

Wilson’s website is currently offline pursuant to the court ruling with a follow up hearing scheduled for Aug. 10 in Seattle.


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