States aim to stop internet release of 3-D-printed gun plans


SEATTLE (AP) — A federal judge in Seattle heard arguments today on whether to block a settlement the U.S. State Department reached with a company that would allow it to post blueprints for printing 3-D weapons on the internet.

The federal agency had tried to stop a Texas company from releasing the plans online, arguing it violated export regulations. But the agency reversed itself in April and entered an agreement with the company that would allow it to post the plans. The company is owned by a self-described "crypto-anarchist" who opposes restrictions on gun ownership.

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia sued and last month secured a restraining order to stop that process, and now they want to make that permanent by having the judge convert the restraining order into an injunction. They fear the plans, if disseminated online, could be used by people who are not legally permitted to buy or possess guns. Critics add that because the weapons aren't made of metal, they would be undetectable.

Cody Wilson, owner of Austin, Texas-based Defense Distributed, has said "governments should live in fear of their citizenry." Wilson's lawyers have said the safety risk from the 3-D weapons claimed by the states is largely exaggerated because many of the files are already online.

The U.S. Justice Department argues federal laws already prohibit the manufacture and possession of undetectable plastic guns, and they say the issues raised in this case are different.

The State Department oversees regulations involving the export of certain weapons, not domestic laws, therefore the injunction is not necessary, the Justice Department said.

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