Herr Loeffler via shutterstock
3D gun (Herr Loeffler via shutterstock)

HARTFORD, CT — Connecticut Against Gun Violence is asking Attorney General George Jepsen to stop a Texas nonprofit from releasing to the public its blueprints for 3D printing guns on Aug. 1.

“On that date, anyone with access to a consumer 3D printer can potentially make guns at home, undetectable by metal detectors, untraceable by law enforcement,” Jeremy Stein, executive director of CAGV, said.

A Texas nonprofit plans to publish the technical design instructions for fully functional, plastic guns.

Groups like Connecticut Against Gun Violence and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence worry the guns would be printed without background checks or serial numbers, making them untraceable and undetectable by metal detectors.

An emergency preliminary injunction filed last week by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety, and the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence to prevent the release of the information was denied by a federal judge.

“We are aware of and very concerned about the issue and are actively evaluating legal options in consultation with appropriate state officials and our colleagues in other states,” Jaclyn Severance, a spokeswoman for Jepsen, said Friday.

How is this possible?

Earlier this month the Texas nonprofit Defense Distributed reached a settlement with the Trump administration resolving a 2015 government challenge to its public posting of the instructions for manufacturing guns with 3D printers. The challenge was started in 2013 during the Obama administration.

In 2013, when Defense Distributed uploaded software and schematic files that allowed for the creation of a 3D printed plastic gun dubbed “The Liberator,” the U.S. State Department demanded its removal on national-security grounds.

The nonprofit, which is run by Cody Wilson, filed a federal lawsuit challenging the government’s position. A judge denied his preliminary injunction and the denial was upheld by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear arguments in the case on Jan. 8, 2018.

However, a recent settlement with the Trump administration’s State Department will allow the nonprofit to publish the schematics on its website on Aug. 1.

“Under terms of the settlement, the government has agreed to waive its prior restraint against the plaintiffs, allowing them to freely publish the 3-D files and other information at issue,” according to a July 10 press release from the Second Amendment Foundation, which represented Defense Distributed. “The government has also agreed to pay a significant portion of the plaintiffs’ attorney’s fees, and to return $10,000 in State Department registration dues paid by Defense Distributed as a result of the prior restraint. Significantly, the government expressly acknowledges that non-automatic firearms up to .50-caliber — including modern semi-auto sporting rifles such as the popular AR-15 and similar firearms — are not inherently military.”

The State Department argues that the export-control concerns under the Obama administration has been addressed.

Earlier this year, Connecticut’s General Assembly failed to take up legislation that would have banned these types of untraceable “ghost guns.”

“Freely distributing plans for making guns at home with 3D printers could result in more untraceable ‘ghost guns’ in the hands of people like the 25-year-old who went on a shooting spree in Santa Monica with a homemade AR-15, killing five people, or the Northern CA man who last year killed four people and tried to enter a school with his homemade ‘ghost gun’ rifles, or the Baltimore man who used a homemade AR-15-style rifle to shoot at four police officers in 2016,” Stein said.

He said they would try again next year to ban ghost guns, but the more immediate need is to keep the 3D plans off the web.

He urged supporters to email Jepsen and ask him to take legal action to block the State Department from enabling what Wilson is calling “the age of the downloadable gun.”

On Sunday, Defense Distributed and the Second Amendment Foundation pre-emptively sued the New Jersey Attorney General and Los Angeles City Attorney Michael Feuer Based on their threats that they would litigate the nonprofit to stop the publication of the information.

The lawsuit calls their efforts “an ideologically-fueled program of intimidation and harassment against Defense Distributed.”

Filed in the Western District of Texas, the federal lawsuit says “state and municipal officers from across the country cannot veto Defense Distributed’s constitutionally-protected and federally-licensed speech.”