Halt release of 3D-printed gun files, arms control groups plead

Image credit: Jonathan Juursema

A coalition of gun-control advocacy organisations have written to a US federal judge demanding that the upcoming distribution of blueprints for 3D-printable guns is blocked.

The US State Department began a years-long legal battle with Defense Distributed – an organisation that provided CAD files for the Liberator, the world’s first fully 3D-printed handgun – in 2013 when it requested that the files were removed. The State Department argued that the files violate the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, which restrict the trade of military equipment.

The files were removed after being downloaded 100,000 times, but remained available on torrent websites.

Last week, the US Justice Department announced that computer-aided design (CAD) files for working guns are protected by the first amendment and should therefore be allowed to resurface online. Following the Justice Department’s ruling, Defense Distributed is free to begin its operations again. It has announced that it will return the CAD files online on 1 August.

“The age of the downloadable gun formally begins,” Defense Distributed wrote on its website.

Now, gun-control advocates are scrambling to put a stop to the release of the files, which could lead to the proliferation of unregistered lethal weapons in the US. All that is required to print the weapons is access to a 3D printer – these can be hired at public libraries and university campuses.

In a letter addressed to a federal judge based in Texas, representatives of Prevent Gun Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety and the Giffords Law Centre to Prevent Gun Violence said that there had been no explanation for the sudden change in policy, and that they would request an injunction to block the publishing of the CAD files.

According to Nick Suplina, managing director of Everytown for Gun Safety, the ruling could “enable terrorists, organised crime syndicates, felons, domestic abusers, all to get quick, easy access to untraceable guns”.

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