Remember a few years ago when engineers alerted the general public to the dangerous implications of the 3D printer? Not only would it be able to print figurines, clothes and office supplies, it had the potential to print guns. Like, real, shootable, undetectable-by-metal-detectors guns. It was terrifying in 2013 and now, in 2018, it was about thiiis close to being legalized in the United States.
The blueprints for 3D printed guns have been available online for years now, mostly in the deep recesses of the dark web. The man at the forefront of the movement to make the plans widely available was (and is) Cody Wilson with his website and non-profit organization Defense Distributed. Back in 2013, Wilson published the blueprints for his “ghost guns” online, but was quickly forced by the Obama Administration to take them down. Wilson sued the administration to allow him to re-upload the plans, but several courts ruled in the government’s favour and it looked like the whole thing was over.
That is, until a new gun-friendly administration took office (hint: Trump. It was Trump). In the new environment, the Justice Department kind of dropped the ball on the case and settled with Wilson and Defense Distributed. In the settlement, they paid Wilson $40,000 and allowed him to re-post his gun blueprints starting in August 2018. Yes, that’s NOW.
Thankfully, several Attorneys General from across the United States banded together to bring a lawsuit against the Justice Department compelling it to reverse position and make the distribution of the plans illegal. On Tuesday night — hours before the plans would have been permitted to go live again — a judge ruled that the posts could help criminals and terrorists get dangerous weapons, thereby temporarily blocking the settlement.
Yes, “temporarily.” This thing ain’t over. The judge issued a temporary restraining order and scheduled another hearing on the subject for August 10.
So what’s going to happen now? The “ghost guns” blueprints have already been downloaded thousands of times since they were leaked online this week. With 3D printing technology getting cheaper and more accessible, it will be almost impossible to regulate these guns and stop people from producing them.
One slight advantage is that the National Rifle Association of America (NRA) isn’t on board with the release of the plans and they have a lot of power in the form of both money and government sway. In fact, Donald Trump told everyone on Twitter Tuesday that he had spoken to the NRA and implied that he and the organization are both against universal access to DIY firearms.
Financially motivated? Yes. But at the very least, it means this is one gun problem that won’t get ignored and actively covered up by the powers that be.
Undetectable plastic guns have been illegal for 30 years. “Federal law passed in 1988, crafted with the NRA’s support, makes it unlawful to manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, possess, transfer, or receive an undetectable firearm.” —@ChrisCoxNRA ➡ https://t.co/GJFIBpMyC7 pic.twitter.com/5YO7JIG2ue
— NRA (@NRA) July 31, 2018
I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 31, 2018