US judge blocks posting of blueprints for 3-D-printed guns

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Washington, Aug 1 (IANS) A US federal judge has blocked the public availability of blueprints that provide instructions for making guns using 3-D printers, just hours before the documents were expected to be published online by a Texas group that had reached an agreement with the Donald Trump administration to do so.

US District Court Judge Robert Lasnik in Seattle granted a temporary restraining order on Tuesday night barring a trove of downloadable information about creating the do-it-yourself weapons, according to the Washington Post.

The Defence Distributed group had reached a settlement with the Trump administration in June to allow it to legally publish the plans. But eight states and the District of Columbia sued the government earlier this week to block the deal, arguing the untraceable guns were a safety risk.

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New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday also issued a cease-and-desist order against the man who was scheduled to post them online.

The judge said that the publication of the manuals by Texas-based Defence Distributed creates “the probability of irreparable harm”. He scheduled another hearing for August 10.

Although Defence Distributed had been expected to publish the blueprints on Wednesday, it uploaded files for nine types of gun to its website last week. Between Friday and Sunday, more than 1,000 people downloaded the files for building a gun apparently modelled on the AR-15 rifle — the gun used in many of the mass shootings in the US.

The lawsuit was filed in Seattle, Washington, by the state’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson. New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Maryland in addition to the District of Columbia were also involved.

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Earlier on Tuesday, President Donald Trump said that the 3D printing of plastic guns “doesn’t seem to make much sense” after his administration reached the legal agreement with the group promoting the activity.

“I am looking into 3-D Plastic guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!” said Trump in a Twitter post, referring to the National Rifle Association, the powerful US pro-gun organization and lobbying group.

The battle over the blueprints started in 2013, when Defence Distributed’s founder Cody Wilson made the first fully 3-D-printed pistol and posted the design files online. The federal government alleged that violated federal law. Uploading the files, it argued, was tantamount to an illegal export of firearms.

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Wilson sued, and the federal government shocked all involved by reversing its position last month. It settled with Wilson, agreeing to pay $40,000 in legal fees and exempting the company from the regulations, allowing it to post the blueprints online.

But Judge Lasnik found the government didn’t follow procedure when agreeing to the settlement.

Speaking outside the court, the Washington Attorney General called the judge’s decision a “complete, total victory”.

“Everything we asked for we got from Judge Lasnik,” he said, and called on Trump to make it “unlawful for anyone to make this information available for anyone”.

–IANS

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