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Rush to block downloadable guns after settlement causes national safety debate

Posted at 7:31 PM, Jul 31, 2018

Downloadable guns for 3-D printing are at the center of a national debate about safety.

"It’s a very dangerous proposition," Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said. "You can make yourself an assault weapon. Weapons that are outlawed in Maryland."

As part of a settlement last month, the State Department has allowed Texas company Defense Distributed to publish plans for producing 3-D printed guns online starting tomorrow.

It's already legal for people to make their own guns without serial numbers as long as it does not violate the Gun Control Act (GCA) regulating interstate commerce or National Firearms Act (NFA) having to do with taxes.

A quick Google search shows blueprints are already available online. This settlement though, triggering a debate about national security.

"We’ve seen tragedy after tragedy after tragedy in the past year and a half- 2 years and we are just looking at more of them if we do this," Frosh said.

Defense Distributed CEO Cody Wilson said he believes the blocking of the files would be a violation of the first amendment.

"For me, it’s really a symbolic political statement," Wilson said. 

Frosh disagrees.

"I don’t think it's speech but if it is, it’s very dangerous speech and it’s not protected by the first amendment," Frosh said. 

He is one of nine attorneys general fighting the distribution.  The fear from lawmakers? These guns made almost entirely of plastic will be untraceable.

"We will be tying the hands of police if this goes through. We will be making their jobs much more difficult," Frosh said. 

"If a firearm is recovered by law enforcement and does not have a serial number, it cannot be traced by the ATF National Tracing Center. The ability to trace firearms back to an initial purchaser is a valuable investigative tool for law enforcement," ATF Baltimore Field Division spokesperson Amanda Hils said. 

Eight Democratic attorneys general filed a lawsuit Monday to block the company from uploading more blueprints.  They also sought a restraining order, arguing the 3D guns would be a safety risk.

At a hearing about the lawsuit Tuesday evening, a federal judge in Seattle has issued a temporary restraining order to stop the release of blueprints to make 3D-printed plastic guns.

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he’s “looking into” the idea, saying making 3D plastic guns available to the public “doesn’t seem to make much sense!”

The worry for Frosh and gun rights advocates alike is the hands these weapons could end up in if they have the right tools.

"Like violent felons, like domestic abusers," Frosh said. 

"The people that can’t really pass the background check could wind up getting one of those guns. There’s probably a reason they can’t pass the background check," Pasadena Pawn and Gun owner Frank Loane said. "It’s the people that shouldn’t have getting one, I guess, with the 3-D printer is the problem."