Connecticut has joined seven other states and the District of Columbia in filing a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration and an Austin, Texas-based company that allows individuals to download instructions for 3-D printed guns from its website.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle, names the U.S. Department of State and the company, Defense Distributed, as defendants. It challenges a settlement that the federal government under President Donald Trump recently entered with the company, allowing Defense Distributed to publish the blueprints.
There was a five-year court battle against the company, starting under the Obama administration. At that time, the administration argued that the company’s provision of online manuals violated firearm export laws. The federal government put in place an injunction on downloading the material, which the court upheld.
But a press release from Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen’s office Monday hinted at a new direction.
“Mere weeks after moving to dismiss, the federal government abruptly and without legal justification changed course and offered to settle the case by agreeing to give Defense Distributed what it wanted,” the statement read.
The lawsuit states the downloadable guns, available in the form of computer-aided design files for the automated production of firearms using a 3-D printer, will be available on the internet beginning Wednesday.
“3-D printed guns are functional weapons that are often unrecognizable by standard metal detectors because they are made out of materials other than metal (such as plastic) and untraceable because they contain no serial numbers,” the lawsuit continues. “Anyone with access to the CAD files and a commercially available 3-D printer could readily manufacture, possess, or sell such a weapon.”
The lawsuit calls the weapons “a serious threat to national security and to public safety.”
Jepsen told the Connecticut Law Tribune on Tuesday that “if these 3-D guns are allowed to proliferate, it could have an impact on undercutting Connecticut gun safety laws and, more significantly, these 3-D guns are untraceable and essentially undetectable.”
He stressed the seriousness of making readily available to the public downloadable instructions for gun-making.
“You win the lawsuit and then hand victory over with a side settlement. It’s bizarre,” he said. “The side settlement allows the company to download the detailed plans and, once they are out there, you can’t get the pony back into the barn.”
Jepsen said the lawsuit seeks to have a judge “invalidate the side deal.”
“Time is very short here,” he said.
Cody Wilson, owner of Defense Distributed, and representatives of the U.S. Department of State, did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Joining Connecticut as plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Washington, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia.