Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul is trying to stop the printing of 3-D “ghost” guns. As a part of 21 other attorneys general from around the country, Raoul filed a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s latest effort to allow 3D-printed gun files to be released on the internet. These files would allow plug-and-play access to 3D blueprints for guns for 3D printers. Some are undetectable by metal detectors.
In 2015, Defense Distributed, an organization dedicated to the global distribution of open-source, downloadable 3D-printed gun files, sued the Obama administration after the U.S. Department of State forced Defense Distributed to remove the files from the internet. The federal government successfully argued before federal trial and appellate courts that posting the files online violates firearm export laws and poses a serious threat to national security and public safety. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case. In an abrupt reversal, the federal government settled the case in June 2018 and agreed to allow unlimited public internet distribution of the downloadable files for 3D-printed guns, and a coalition of states filed a lawsuit in July 2018.
Following a multi-state legal challenge, a federal judge last year struck down the federal government’s prior attempt to allow the release of the files. Now, the administration has embarked on a new effort by pursuing formal rules, which were finalized yesterday. Raoul and the coalition filed the lawsuit in Seattle in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, arguing the rules are unlawful. They argue that by the current administration transferring the regulation to the Department of Commerce from the State Department, it is trying to curtail the July 2018 ruling by a federal judge that said allowing free distribution of the plans is unsafe and unlawful.