If one Texas company has its way, anyone with a 3-D printer would be allowed to print out their own guns. The issue is at the heart of a State Department case settlement that allowed the company to resume posting blueprints for plastic, functional guns in the beginning of August. Late Tuesday, though, a federal judge blocked 3-D printed gun blueprints from getting released — but the ruling is only temporary, according to The Associated Press.
The ruling comes as President Trump faces hefty pressure to prevent the blueprints from getting out. Trump spoke directly to the controversy on Tuesday, tweeting out that he was "looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public." The president added that he already spoke to the National Rifle Association and said that it "doesn’t seem to make much sense."
The culmination of the 3-D printing issue has been years in the making, with gun-control advocates alarmed about plastic “ghost guns” that can slip metal detection. According to The AP, the State Department finally settled the case in June against Defense Distributed, the Austin-based company and non-profit that wants to offer directions for the public to create their own firearms.
But the block on the settlement is only for now; U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik in Seattle issued the order after several Democratic attorneys general filed a lawsuit Monday to block the settlement allowing the plans to be made available online, NBC News reported. The attorneys general called the plastic guns a boon to terrorists and criminals.
The man behind the push to make 3-D printed gun blueprints public is Cody Wilson, the founder of Defense Distributed and Texas man who has been described as a "champion of gun-rights and anarchism." Wilson has praised the arrival of “the age of the downloadable gun” and said he plans on uploading a range of schematics, including instructions on creating AR-15-style rifles, according to The New York Times. Defense Distributed's website said downloads would begin Wednesday, but, as The New York Times reported, blueprints for a plastic pistol have been posted since Friday.
Democrats have overwhelmingly condemned the blueprints, saying the do-it-yourself guns can be printed without serial numbers or government registration. Critics point out that the process would make it drastically easier for terrorists to avoid getting caught while leading to a mass distribution of untraceable firearms.
“All you need is a little money and you can download a blueprint from the internet to make a gun at home,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. “No background check. No criminal history check.”
It's no surprise that Democrats have expressed concern, but on this issue, even some Republicans have said that the blueprints should not be made available to the public. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski shared her thoughts on Tuesday, retweeting a CNN news story on the downloadable plans.
Just months before the November midterm elections, fury over the Trump administration's decision to allow downloadable 3-D gun blueprints has put another version of gun control squarely back into public debate.
Following his tweet, it's unclear what Trump will do. The president has frequently asserted his support for gun rights and has publicly embraced the NRA. The blueprints are on hold for now, but with an administration that strongly supports gun rights, legal public access to those instructions may just happen under Trump's watch.