3D printed guns are looming disaster, New Jersey tells Texas firm

  • TECH
  • Friday, 27 Jul 2018

FILE - This May 10, 2013, file photo shows a plastic pistol that was completely made on a 3D-printer at a home in Austin, Texas. A coalition of gun-control groups has filed an appeal in federal court seeking to block a recent Trump administration ruling that will allow the publication of blueprints to build a 3D-printed firearm. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP, File)

A Texas non-profit firm’s plan to publish technical designs for firearms online so anyone with a 3D printer can use them to manufacture fully operational “downloadable” guns is drawing fire from New Jersey and national gun-control groups. 

Defense Distributed would violate New Jersey law by allowing anyone to print guns regardless of age, criminal status or history of mental illness, state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a letter Thursday calling on the company to stop its activities. The plan would also allow guns to be printed without serial numbers, making them untraceable, he said. 

”The files you plan to publish offer individuals, including criminals, codes that they can use to create untraceable firearms – and even to make assault weapons that are illegal in my state,” Grewal wrote. 

The issue gained urgency after Defense Distributed reached a settlement with the Trump administration resolving a 2015 government challenge to his plan. The challenge was started by the Obama administration on national-security grounds. 

On Wednesday, the Brady Centre to Prevent Gun Violence and other groups asked a federal judge in Austin for permission to intervene in the 2015 case to contest the settlement. The groups claim the accord violates the Administrative Procedure Act by failing to resolve concerns raised by the previous administration. 

Reversed stance 

The Trump administration once appeared to back Obama’s stance. In April the US urged dismissal of the company’s lawsuit, highlighting the “potentially devastating” implications of online gun designs getting into the hands of terrorists, according to the Brady Centre. 

Weeks later, the government offered a settlement which gave the plaintiffs “everything they asked for, and more”, the Brady Centre said. The US agreed to pay the company almost US$40,000 (RM162,580), a court filing shows. 

Defense Distributed was founded in 2012 by Cody Wilson, who believes that “governments should live in fear of their citizenry”, the Brady Centre said. Wilson and his lawyer didn’t immediately return a call and email. 

The US said Thursday that the export-control concerns raised by the Obama administration are being addressed by proposed regulatory changes transferring oversight for weapons that don’t give the US a critical military advantage to a different agency. 

The dispute, centred around the Arms Export Control Act, took off in 2013 after Defence Distributed began posting computer-aided design files for automatically manufacturing Liberator plastic pistols that can avoid detection in walk-through metal detectors, according to the filing. — Bloomberg

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