HARTFORD, CT – Connecticut already bans the creation of any unserialized firearm, but it wants to stop the Trump administration from allowing plans for 3D-printed guns from being published on the internet.
Connecticut will join 20 other states in filing a federal lawsuit against the Commerce Department to stop the distribution of the plans. The federal rule is expected to be released any day now, and once it is, a coalition led by the state of Washington will argue it’s not appropriate to release these files.
“Release of these 3D-printed gun files would allow for the creation and proliferation of 3D-printed guns,” Attorney General William Tong said at a press conference Wednesday.
He said the guns are able to bypass metal detectors and gun background check safeguards.
He was joined at the press conference by a number of gun-safety advocates.
“3D guns circumvent our laws,” Po Murray, of Newtown Action Alliance, said. “The technology allows any person in the world to make untraceable guns without a serial number, without background checks, without a waiting period, without a permit.”
Jeremy Stein, executive director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence, said there’s no way to know how many of these guns are out there because they are untraceable. He then held up a photo of a 3D-printed gun confiscated from an individual in Waterbury last May in case there was any doubt about the impact on Connecticut.
Alexis Gevanter, of Moms Demand Action, said no one should be able to “print their own firearm outside of the laws we have enacted in Connecticut.”
She said for just $200, which is the cost of a 3D printer, “anyone with internet access, including those prohibited from legally purchasing guns such as convicted felons and domestic abusers, can manufacture a gun in the privacy of their home.”
Connecticut has strict gun laws and prohibits unserialized firearms, but federal law does not.
“Connecticut, along with a number of other individual states, is making necessary strides to reduce gun violence and pass common-sense policies that keep our communities safe, but we can only do so much without the support of the federal government,” Gov. Ned Lamont said. ”Putting an end to the epidemic of gun violence in our nation is not a Democratic or Republican issue, it’s an American issue.”
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.
In defending against Defense Distributed’s lawsuit, the federal government previously stated it was “particularly concerned that [the] proposed export of undetectable firearms technology could be used in an assassination, for the manufacture of spare parts by embargoed nations, terrorist groups, or to compromise aviation security overseas in a manner specifically directed at U.S. persons.”
Then, in a reversal, the Trump administration settled the case on June 29, 2018. As part of the settlement, the Trump administration agreed to allow unlimited public distribution on the internet of the downloadable files for 3D-printed guns.
Connecticut joined a separate multi-state lawsuit led by the state of Washington on July 30, 2018. On Nov. 12, 2019, Judge Robert Lasnik ruled that the Trump administration’s decision to allow the files’ distribution was arbitrary, capricious, and unlawful.
“Given the agency’s prior position regarding the need to regulate 3D-printed firearms and the CAD files used to manufacture them, it must do more than simply announce a contrary position,” Lasnik wrote.
He added: “Overall, the Department of State concluded that the worldwide publication of computerized instructions for the manufacture of undetectable firearms was a threat to world peace and the national security interests of the United States and would cause serious and long-lasting harm to its foreign policy. Against these findings, the federal defendants offer nothing.”
The Trump administration is now publishing new rules. The Commerce Department rules are what Tong and the other states are looking to challenge as soon as they are made public. The upcoming complaint will again assert that the rule is unlawful.