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Federal Judge Grants Preliminary Injunction in 3D Printed Gun Case

08-27-2018

The ban on the release of plans to make plastic handguns on a 3D printer will continue, a federal judge in Seattle ruled on Monday.

US District Judge Robert Lasnik's order blocks the federal government from allowing the publication of blueprints that detail, among other things, how to make a 3D-printed firearm.

Lasnik said the government's actions "not only impact national security but have domestic repercussions as well."

Cody Wilson, the founder of the Texas non-profit Defense Distributed, said the decision violated his First Amendment rights.

The judge's ruling on Monday, however, said that posting 3D-printed weapon plans could cause unspecified "irreparable harms."

"The court finds that the irreparable burdens on the private defendant's First Amendment rights are dwarfed by the irreparable harms the states are likely to suffer if the existing restrictions are withdrawn and that, overall, the public interest strongly supports maintaining the status quo through the pendency of this litigation," Lasnik wrote in his ruling.

Since making a 3D-printed gun only requires a 3D printer, the right materials and a blueprint, Lasnik said the concern is that 3D-printed guns will make it easy to bypass a host of state and federal laws.

Lasnik adds that printing a gun doesn't require a background check or any documentation, offering a workaround for people who are legally prohibited from buying a gun.

Some security experts have expressed concerns that the guns could circumvent metal detectors, while Defense Distributed has maintained it's simply releasing information protected by free speech and that the states can't be facing "irreparable harm" if so many of the files are already online anyway.

The judge said he would presume that Mr. Wilson does have a First Amendment right to publish the files, but that the burdens on those rights are "dwarfed" by the harms the states are likely to face and that it's in the public interest to keep the ban in place while the case is being heard.

Regarding the judge's ruling on Monday, Wilson said in a statement, "The order is a manifest injustice and literally admits to being an abridgment of the freedom of speech."

Although the ruling now forbids organizations from posting the 3D-printed gun blueprints to the internet, the case will continue, although no further hearings appear to be scheduled.

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