Rule Change Would Allow 3D-Printed Gun Blueprints

A federal rule change could soon make it legal to put 3D-printed gun blueprints back online after being blocked from the internet twice, the Texas Tribune reports. The Trump administration has proposed transferring authority of some small arms and ammunition exports from the U.S. Department of State to the Commerce Department, a move that would relax regulations that have previously prevented the 3D-printed gun blueprints from being posted online. The administration gave a 30-day notice of the rule change to Congress on Nov. 13, meaning the White House could announce the transfer of authority any day. That would end a long-fought battle by Cody Wilson of Texas to allow the blueprints to be made publicly available.

Gun control activists warn that the change could make firearms available to dangerous people who would otherwise be prevented from purchasing guns. Wilson created the  first fully 3D-printed gun, which made its debut in 2013. Blueprints for the weapon, named the Liberator, were posted on Wilson’s company website, Defense Distributed. The State Department told Wilson to take down the plans until he applied for approval for the gun’s multiple components. Wilson took the plans down, but by that point, they had already been downloaded more than 100,000 times. The State Department argued that putting the blueprints online was the same as exporting them. Wilson responded with a 2015 lawsuit that the blueprints were a form of free speech. The State Department agreed to settle with Wilson and the plans were published online in July 2018 but they were blocked days later after a federal judge granted a request from eight states and the District of Columbia to issue a temporary restraining order to stop the settlement agreement.

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