Handguns sit on display at ABQ Guns in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S. (Photographer: Sergio Flores/Bloomberg)

Judge Grants Temporary Restraining Order Against Making 3-D Guns

(Bloomberg) -- A judge issued a temporary restraining order against the distribution of materials to make guns using 3-D printers.

A group of states sued the Trump administration Monday in Seattle federal court blocking the government from resolving a lawsuit with a small Texas non-profit that would allow it to publish instructions on the internet starting Aug. 1 detailing how to print 3-D guns.

“These ghost guns are untraceable, virtually undetectable and, without today’s victory, available to any felon, domestic abuser or terrorist,” Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a statement after the ruling. “I hope the president does the right thing and directs his administration to change course.”

The government violated federal law by arbitrarily excluding the firearm designs from U.S. export controls that have barred Austin-based Defense Distributed from publishing them, the coalition of Democratic attorneys general from eight states and the District of Columbia said in their complaint.

The states asked the court for an emergency restraining order to temporarily bar Defense Distributed from publishing the files as planned starting Aug. 1, a date hailed by the nonprofit’s website as the beginning of the “age of the downloadable gun.”

U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik ruled the U.S. should have followed multiple procedures when removing items from the U.S. Munitions List. Congress should have been informed, triggering a 30-day notice period and the U.S. Secretary of State should have informed the Secretary of Defense. Neither happened.

Beyond the procedural failures of the Trump administration, the unregulated weapons available at a click of a button pose a threat to the general public, ruled Lasnik.

“The proliferation of these firearms will have many of the negative impacts on a state level that the federal government once feared on the international stage,” he said in his ruling.

The parties will reconvene on Aug. 10 to determine if the temporary order should be converted to a preliminary injunction on its way to a permanent ban.

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