A Texas nonprofit firm’s plan to publish technical designs for firearms online so anyone with a 3-D 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 Center 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.
The Trump administration once appeared to back Obama’s stance. In April the U.S. 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 Center.
Weeks later, the government offered a settlement which gave the plaintiffs “everything they asked for, and more,” the Brady Center said. The U.S. agreed to pay the company almost $40,000, 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 Center said. Wilson and his lawyer didn’t immediately return a call and email.
The U.S. 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 U.S. a critical military advantage to a different agency.
The dispute, centered around the Arms Export Control Act, took off in 2013 after Defense 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.
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