Michigan and Minnesota have joined a lawsuit challenging a federal regulation that would allow blueprints for 3D-printed guns to be posted online.
According to the Associated Press, President Donald Trump’s administration “published formal rules on Thursday that transfer the regulation of 3D-printed guns from the State Department to the Commerce Department, which could open the door to making the blueprints available online.”
Apparent loopholes in the Commerce Department’s rules will prevent the regulation of “3D-printed guns in any meaningful way,” said Attorney General Keith Ellison, who joined 21 attorneys general in filing a lawsuit against the Trump administration.
3D-printed guns are plastic firearms that can be downloaded and printed with a 3D printer. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel thinks the regulation change “would allow plug-and-play access to 3D-printed, unregistered, untraceable firearms that can also be very difficult to detect, even with a metal detector.”
The new lawsuit was filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington and is led by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
“My job is to help Minnesotans live with safety, dignity, and respect. It’s hard even to conceive that the Trump administration is willing to let Minnesotans die just so a few companies can get rich off of flooding our streets with undetectable and untraceable weapons. But that’s exactly what the administration is doing. I won’t allow it,” Ellison said in a statement.
According to the coalition of attorneys general, Defense Distributed, an organization dedicated to global distribution of open-source, downloadable 3D-printed guns, sued the Obama administration in 2015 after the U.S. State Department forced the organization to remove its files from the Internet.
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case and the Trump administration settled with Defense Distributed in June 2018. As part of the settlement, the administration agreed to allow public distribution of downloadable files for 3D-printed guns online.
A multi-state coalition of attorneys general sued in July 2018 to block the implementation of the settlement and a federal judge ruled that the Trump administration’s decision was “arbitrary, capricious, and unlawful.”
Thursday’s lawsuit argues that the new rules are “unlawful” for similar reasons as the previous ruling. They claim that the administration has failed to provide evidence against the “risks of allowing unregulated access to firearms worldwide.”
“Allowing instructions for building unregistered and untraceable weapons on the internet is reckless,” Nessel said in a statement. “If access to these so-called ‘ghost guns’ becomes available to essentially anyone with a computer, the U.S. risks opening itself up to the possibility of widescale harm. We must act sensibly and responsibly, and that means opposing this administration’s illogical attempt to subject Michigan residents and other Americans to the wills of terrorists and extremists.”
Joining Ellison, Nessel, and Ferguson are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont and the District of Columbia.
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