The Slatest

Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Publishing of 3D-Printable Gun Blueprints Online

A blue Liberator pistol on a table next to a box of bullets and the 3-D printer on which its components were made.
A Liberator pistol next to the 3D printer on which its components were made. AFP/Getty Images

A federal judge stepped in and temporarily blocked the publishing of blueprints for 3D-printed guns hours before the Aug. 1 deadline when they were set to be uploaded and distributed online. The nationwide injunction puts a halt to the posting of instructions on how to produce the untraceable, plastic firearms by Cody Wilson of Defense Distributed. Attorneys general from eight states filed suit to stop the publishing of the how-to manuals, which was set to go forward Wednesday after the Trump administration settled a dispute with the Texas-based nonprofit Defense Distributed, which had challenged a previous government ban on the grounds it was an unconstitutional restriction on free speech and the right to bear arms.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert S. Lasnik said in his order that the states had sufficiently established that there was “a likelihood of irreparable harm” and that the merits of the legal objection were such that it could be successful. “State Department officials in the Obama administration blocked the company in 2013 from distributing the downloadable designs for the firearm, saying it violated export laws that ban the distribution of firearms to other countries,” the New York Times reports. “But last month, the State Department reversed course and said it would allow the company to post the plans after concluding that publication of the schematics does not violate the defense export controls designed to keep sensitive military technology out of the hands of the country’s enemies.”

A court-approved settlement then effectively gave Wilson the go-ahead to distribute the schematics of the homemade weapons. “This is a huge free speech case. It’s the Pentagon Papers all over again,” Josh Blackman, a lawyer representing Wilson said of the ruling.