US states make last-minute legal bid to halt 3-D online guns

Nine US States are filing a lawsuit against the Trump administration to block the online dissemination of designs for 3D printed guns.

(REUTERS) - Several US states on Monday (July 30) said they would jointly sue the Trump administration for allowing the public to download blueprints for 3-D printable guns in a last-ditch effort to block the designs from becoming available on Wednesday (Aug 1).

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said at a news conference in Seattle that the states will ask a federal judge to issue a restraining order and an injunction to block the publication of the designs, which they say would allow criminals easy access to weapons.

Along with Washington state, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Oregon, Maryland and the District of Columbia are working on finalizing the lawsuit and plan on filing it later on Monday, Ferguson said.

At issue is a June settlement between the US government and Texas-based Defense Distributed company that will allow it to legally publish gun blueprints online. Defense Distributed, which had challenged an earlier government ban as a violation of its First and Second Amendment rights, says on its website that it plans to release the plans by Aug 1.

The administration of US President Donald Trump failed to explain why it settled the case and allowed the publication of the blueprints, Ferguson said.

The US State Department had previously banned the blueprints as a national security risk and a violation of arms trafficking regulations. As recently as April, the government in court filings argued downloadable guns would allow extremist groups and criminals abroad unfettered access to arms.

The State Department and Justice Department, which represented the government in the case, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the announcement of the lawsuit.

"Our Congress has carefully crafted laws to protect us and, in one moment, without any consultation with experts, the administration undoes it," Washington state's Ferguson said.

The government failed to study the impact of its decision and did not consult with other agencies before settling, making its actions "arbitrary and capricious" in violation of federal law, Ferguson said. He said the settlement violated states'rights to regulate firearms.

Gun control groups on Friday failed to convince a federal judge to intervene before the designs were expected to go online.

US District Judge Robert Pitman in Austin, Texas found that the groups, including the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, lacked legal standing.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association for gun manufacturers, says concerns over 3-D printable guns are overblown because criminals are unlikely to use the expensive technology to manufacture guns.