August 28, 2018 / 7:08 PM / 3 months ago

3-D printed gun blueprints for sale after U.S. court order, group says

(Reuters) - A Texas-based group that a U.S. federal judge had barred from issuing blueprints for 3-D printed plastic guns on the internet said on Tuesday it has made the firearm designs available for sale.

Cody Wilson, founder of Defense Distributed, said at a news conference in Austin, Texas that he would sell the files and ship them to buyers on a flash drive.

“Today I want to clarify, anyone who wants these files will get them,” Wilson said. “I’ll sell them. I’ll ship them.”

The files could previously be downloaded for free, but U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik in Seattle, Washington, on Monday issued a nationwide injunction that blocked online distribution of 3-D printed gun files.

Josh Blackman, a lawyer for Wilson, said in a statement on Tuesday that the court expressly allowed Wilson to mail files.

Lasnik did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Monday’s decision blocked a settlement between the Trump administration and Defense Distributed, which argued that the U.S. Constitution guaranteed access to the online blueprints under the First Amendment right to free speech and the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

“Wilson is trying to push the boundaries over what the U.S. Constitution protects and the court will have to clarify whether the injunction goes far enough to cover flash drives,” said Timothy Lytton, a law professor at Georgia State University who has written a book on gun litigation.

Files available on Defense Distributed’s website included blueprints of components for a version of the AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle, used in several U.S. mass shootings. They were available for purchase at a suggested price of $10 each.

A group of 19 U.S. states and the District of Columbia sued the U.S. government in July, arguing that publishing the blueprints would allow criminals easy access to weapons. They said the Trump administration had failed to explain why it settled the case.

“We knew this fight wouldn’t end with yesterday’s court order, and this is just the latest attempt by Cody Wilson to put his own selfish, asinine interests ahead of public safety,” said Avery Gardiner, co-president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, one of the gun control advocacy groups opposing the blueprints as part of the litigation.

Gardiner in a statement said her group would continue to work with state AGs to prevent access to the files, but declined to comment on whether the group would take additional legal steps.

FILE PHOTO: Seized plastic handguns which were created using 3D printing technology are displayed at Kanagawa police station in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, in this photo taken by Kyodo May 8, 2014. REUTERS/Kyodo

The U.S. State Department, which had previously banned the blueprints as a national security risk and a violation of arms trafficking regulations, did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Gun control proponents are concerned the weapons made from 3-D printers will be untraceable, undetectable “ghost” firearms that threaten global security. Some gun rights groups say the technology is expensive, the guns unreliable and the threat overblown. They also say undetectable guns wholly made of plastic are illegal in the United States.

(This story corrects personal pronoun in 12th paragraph from “his” to “her”)

Reporting by Tina Bellon; Editing by Bill Berkrot and David Gregorio

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