On Wednesday, you will legally be able to download the digital plans for a gun that you can then load into your 3D printer and create a plastic, untraceable firearm from the comfort of your home. That is, unless Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has his way.
Ferguson announced Monday morning that he will file a lawsuit asking for a federal court to block the distribution of 3D printed gun designs. Ferguson's lawsuit comes after the Trump administration unexpectedly settled a separate lawsuit, which paved the way for the proliferation of do-it-yourself handgun design plans on the Internet.
"The Trump administration recently chose to give access to untraceable and undetectable firearms to any felon, domestic abuser, or terrorist with a laptop and access to a 3D printer," Ferguson said. "This decision is unconstitutional, it is unlawful, and frankly it is terrifying."
The first 3D-printed gun was created and fired in 2013 by Cody Wilson, a Texas man that describes himself as an anarchist, according to PBS. Wilson posted the plans for his gun, called the Liberator, onto his website, where the plans were downloaded thousands of times. The U.S. State Department quickly ordered Wilson to remove his plans, arguing that they violated international arms treaties because the plans were in effect distributing weapons across the world.
Wilson took the plans down but then sued the federal government in 2015, arguing that the policy was infringing on his right to free speech and bear arms. The federal government had prevailed at every step in the court process, according to PBS, until they suddenly agreed to settle Wilson's lawsuit out of court, allowing him to distribute the plans and even giving him $40,000 in legal fees.
Ferguson described the Trump administration's actions as illegally "throwing the game," because they were already winning the lawsuit and did not follow the proper protocol in settling the case.
"Two federal courts agreed with the federal government and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case, instead of continuing to defend the lawsuit that they were winning at every stage… the Trump administration abruptly reversed course," Ferguson said.
Wilson's website welcomed the news by announcing that "the age of the downloadable gun formally begins," according to CNN.
Ferguson said seven other states and the District of Columbia would join Washington in the lawsuit, with Ferguson's office leading the case and filing the lawsuit in federal court in Seattle. Ferguson said he would argue that the Trump decision violates Washington's 10th amendment right to regulate firearms in the state.
"This unprecedented move is not only disastrous for public safety, but undermines our state laws meant to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals," Ferguson said.
Ferguson, who said he has filed 32 lawsuits against the Trump Administration, said that the lawsuit would also argue that the Trump Administration violated the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs how the government creates public policy.
"That act requires rational process from our government. Federal law requires rational decision making, the Trump administration doesn’t do that," Ferguson said. "The federal government has to essentially show their work before making a decision like this that impacts our society to such a degree."
Ferguson was joined at his Monday morning press conference with a range of Seattle officials, including Mayor Jenny Durkan, City Attorney Pete Holmes, and Interim Police Chief Carmen Best. Durkan said while she was the U.S. Attorney for Western Washington her office considered 3D-printed guns a dangerous threat for countering terrorism, especially in how the plastic guns could be brought onto commercial flights.
Durkan said expanding access to 3D guns would only benefit criminals and people who shouldn't have access to firearms.
"If a person has a printed gun that is made of the right materials they will be undetectable and everyone sitting on an airplane will be put at risk," Durkan said.
Ferguson said he hopes to file the lawsuit before the end of the day Monday. His office will need to work fast if they want to stop the spread of these schematics for 3D-printed guns. Some reports show Wilson's website has already started to illegally allow new downloads from his website. By Wednesday, those downloads will be legal. We'll see if Ferguson is able to stop those downloads from happening.