A judge has temporarily halted any blueprint plans from being made available by a nonprofit gun organization, Defense Distributed, that would allow users to print 3D plastic weapons.
The injunction is reasonable: such technology could allow criminals or other individuals who should not have access to a gun attain one that is untraceable.
Unfortunately, these blueprints have been posted on a separate website, allowing users to download the plans and print the guns if they have access to the technology.
The website, CodeIsFreeSpeech.com, issued a statement in defense of their publishing the blueprints, arguing that they’re protected by the free speech provision of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
“Through CodeIsFreeSpeech.com, we intend to encourage people to consider new and different aspects of our nation’s marketplace of ideas – even if some government officials disagree with our views or dislike our content – because information is code, code is free speech, and free speech is freedom,” a statement on the site read.
Currently available on the site are plans for guns such as the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the Ruger 10-22, the Beretta 92FS, and several other weapons.
Polling shows that most Americans disagree with the website’s decision, believing that access to 3D printing blueprints allowing people to make their own guns should be curtailed. Almost 4-out-of-every-5 respondents in an American Barometer poll from this week said those plans should be restricted.
Even a majority of Republican respondents (74 percent) believed that it was wrong to potentially allow these blueprints into the hands of criminals.
Every gun purchase and every owner of a gun should be vetted — but 3D printing circumvents that process, allowing those who shouldn’t be anywhere near a gun a new way of getting one. A new solution must be found, and fast, to address this latest predicament.
The ability for anyone to use a 3D printer to create their own guns at home, untraceable and without any background check for the owners whatsoever, is about to become a reality starting Aug. 1.
It is absolutely absurd that this has been allowed to happen — and in a rare circumstance of a stopped clock being correct at least twice a day, President Donald Trump seems to agree.
In a Tuesday morning tweet on the subject, Trump announced he was “looking into” the issue, and that it “doesn’t seem to make much sense!”
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
Unfortunately, efforts to curtail these types of guns from being made may be too late. In fact, well ahead of the official Wednesday date when these blueprints would be made available, more than 1,000 people have downloaded plans to build 3D AR-15 semi-automatic rifles.
So how was this allowed to happen? Well, as it turns out, Trump’s own Department of Justice is to blame.
The administration of former President Barack Obama fought for five years against allowing 3D printed guns from being legal.
Those arguing for blueprints to be made available online for downloading said that restrictions violated their First Amendment rights, but this seemed to be one of those situations where a restriction of a right made more sense than outright allowing anyone (including violent criminals) the ability to attain a deadly weapon.
In June of this year, one-and-a-half years into the Trump administration, the DOJ finally settled out of court, thus allowing gun blueprints to be made available for 3D printing. The DOJ also agreed to pay $40,000 in legal fees to the litigants.
In response to the settlement, several states’ attorneys general filed a joint lawsuit against the Trump administration, hoping to prevent, or at least momentarily stave off, the distribution of these 3D blueprints for guns.
“I have a question for the Trump Administration: Why are you allowing dangerous criminals easy access to weapons?” Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said.
That’s a good question to ask. For a president who considers himself to be “tough on crime,” Trump didn’t seem to be too worried about his DOJ allowing criminals access to weapons through this new settlement.
But now, one day before the deadline, Trump’s position seems to have shifted. Now, the pro-gun president is apparently seeing the light on how alarming this technology truly is, when it comes to gun manufacturing.
It’s great that Trump is changing his tune on the topic, and if he actually does something to prevent these types of 3D guns from being printed, it’d be a positive outcome to this entire ordeal.
But it’s also partially his own administration’s fault that it’s come to this point — Obama’s DOJ wanted to fight tooth-and-nail against allowing 3D gun blueprints from being available, but Trump’s DOJ determined it was time to give up and allow anyone to access these types of guns, without any care for tracking them or doing background checks on those who would potentially own them.
This is a problem of Trump’s own creation. His administration’s incompetence on the subject, as well as their willingness to give up on fighting for common sense restrictions on guns in general, are what led us to where we are today.
The president must act fast to prevent these blueprints from becoming available. If he doesn’t, his supposedly tough, anti-crime talk is nothing more than hot air.
Banner/thumbnail image credit: Justin Pickard/Flickr