Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP, File

Trump 'looking into' 3D guns issue

July 31, 2018 - 12:49 pm
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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Tuesday he has spoken with the National Rifle Association about downloadable directions others want to provide for people to make 3D-printed guns, adding that the idea "doesn't seem to make much sense!"

Trump tweeted he is "looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public" and "already spoke to NRA." He did not offer further details, and the White House did not immediately provide additional clarity.

The National Rifle Association did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Eight have filed suit against the Trump administration over its decision to allow a Texas company to publish downloadable blueprints for a 3D-printed gun, contending that such hard-to-trace plastic weapons are a boon to terrorists and criminals and threaten public safety.

The suit, filed Monday in Seattle, asks a judge to block the federal government's late-June settlement with Defense Distributed, which allowed the company to make the plans available online.

Democrats held a news conference Tuesday, calling on the administration to reverse the decision. Senators said Trump has the power to stop the company from making downloadable plans available online.

Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal said if Trump fails to act, "blood is going to be on his hands."

People can use the blueprints to manufacture plastic guns using a 3D printer. But gun industry experts have expressed doubt that criminals would go to the trouble, since the printers needed to make the guns are very expensive, the guns themselves tend to disintegrate quickly and traditional firearms are easy to come by.

Unlike traditional firearms that can fire thousands of rounds in their lifetimes, the 3D-printed guns normally last only a few rounds before they fall apart, experts say. They don't have magazines that allow the usual nine or 15 rounds to be carried; instead, they usually hold a bullet or two and then must be manually loaded afterward. And they're not usually very accurate.

Cody Wilson, the founder of Defense Distributed, first published downloadable designs for a 3D-printed firearm in 2013. The plans were downloaded about 100,000 times until the State Department ordered him to cease, contending the effort violated federal export laws since some of the blueprints were downloaded by people outside the United States.

The State Department reversed course in late June, agreeing to allow Wilson to resume posting the blueprints.

The company filed its own suit in Texas on Sunday, asserting that it's the victim of an "ideologically fueled program of intimidation and harassment" that violates the company's First Amendment rights.

Meanwhile, Defense Distributed agreed to block temporarily Pennsylvania residents from downloading the plans after state officials went to federal court in Philadelphia on Sunday seeking an emergency order. The company said it has also blocked access to users in New Jersey and Los Angeles.

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