Judge blocks release of blueprints for 3D-printed guns

Experts said the printers are very expensive and the gun themselves tend to disintegrate quickly


By PoliceOne Staff

SEATTLE — A federal judge temporarily blocked the release of blueprints for making 3D-printed guns.

CBS News reported that U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik issued a temporary restraining order on the release of the blueprints on Tuesday. Lasnik said the guns could end up in the wrong hands.

In this May 10, 2013, file photo, Cody Wilson holds what he calls a Liberator pistol that was completely made on a 3-D-printer at his home in Austin, Texas. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP, File)
In this May 10, 2013, file photo, Cody Wilson holds what he calls a Liberator pistol that was completely made on a 3-D-printer at his home in Austin, Texas. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP, File)

In June, the company behind the plans, Defense Distributed, reached a settlement with the federal government that allowed the company to make blueprints for the guns available for download. Eight states filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to halt the blueprints’ release and sought a restraining order, arguing that the 3D guns would be a public safety risk.

Officials have urged President Donald Trump to block the release of the blueprints. Trump said he has spoken to the NRA and tweeted that the idea of making the blueprints for the guns available “doesn’t seem to make much sense.” 

Some police departments have expressed concern over the release. Bakersfield, California Sgt. Brian Holcombe said he’s concerned about children thinking the guns are toys and people who are prohibited from having weapons getting their hands on the blueprints, according to Bakersfield Now.

"We have untraceable weapons now, we have the ability to make those firearms now. This is just one step that is a little bit easier for those folks to obtain the weapons that we don't want out there," Holcombe said.

Chicago police said they were relieved to learn about the temporary block issued Tuesday, according to CBS Chicago. Police there said the 3D guns pose a real threat to law enforcement and the public.

“This is an opportunity for people who are prohibited from possessing legal firearms to own these types of guns that in no way could be traced back to them. It’s a real problem. They cannot be detected by metal detectors or wands,” Thomas Ahern of the Chicago PD said.

While people can use the blueprints to build a gun via a 3D printer, some gun industry experts expressed doubts that criminals will go through the trouble. Experts said the printers are very expensive and the gun themselves tend to disintegrate quickly.
The founder of Defense Distributed, Cody Wilson, first published blueprints for a 3D-printed firearm in 2013, which were downloaded 100,000 times. The State Department eventually ordered him to cease making them available, saying that it violated federal export laws since some of the blueprints were downloaded outside of the U.S.

But the State Department reversed course last month and allowed Wilson to resume publishing the blueprints. The plan was to make the blueprints available on Wednesday, but the company uploaded the plans on Friday, according to CNET.

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