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States Push Back On 3D-Printed Guns

A rendering of the Defense Distributed "Liberator" .380 single-shot pistol.
A rendering of the Defense Distributed "Liberator" .380 single-shot pistol.

State officials are urging the Trump administration to intervene in the distribution of 3D-printed gun plans after Defense Distributed, which disseminates such plans, made them available online again after an ongoing legal battle.

In a letter addressed to Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, 25 state attorneys general warn that distribution of the plans could pose “potentially grave consequences for our national and domestic security.” They argue that Defense Distributed is in violation of export control regulations and the Undetectable Firearms Act.

Anyone who downloads and uses the computer files “would be able to automatically manufacture functional weapons that cannot be detected by a standard metal detector and, furthermore, are untraceable because they lack serial numbers,” regardless of their eligibility to purchase a firearm.

Last March, a federal judge in Washington state blocked a change in rules from the Trump administration that would allow people to share plans for 3D-printed firearms in person, by mail or email. 3D-printed guns lack serial numbers and can be printed with materials not detected by standard methods.

Self-described “crypto-anarchist” Cody Wilson founded Defense Distributed in 2012, inspired by WikiLeaks. A gun rights activist from Arkansas, Wilson founded the company to create a “WikiLeaks for the Second Amendment,” and within a year created and released blueprints for the first fully 3D-printed firearm.

Guns & America is a public media reporting project on the role of guns in American life.

Copyright 2021 Guns and America. To see more, visit Guns and America.

Victoria Chamberlin
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