California Joins 3D-Printed Gun Battle

By William Vogeler, Esq. on August 06, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

California has joined the legal battle against 3D-printed guns, demanding the federal government stop publication of blueprints for the plastics guns on the internet.

In a case filed by eight other states, a judge in Washington has ordered the U.S. State Department to block the release. California will enter the fray with a temporary restraining order already in place.

Win or lose in the next legal round, California is proving it is possible to be fashionably late to a gun fight. Or not.

Better Late Than Never?

In some ways, the shooting match was over in 2013. That's when Defense Distributed first published blueprints for the plastic gun.

More than 100,000 people downloaded the blueprints before the federal government could do anything about it. The State Department warned Cody Wilson, a former law student and chief of Defense Distributed, that he could go to jail for violating export controls.

He sued on First Amendment grounds, and the State Department backed off. In a settlement last month, the government agreed to let Wilson published the blueprints -- again.

That's when the states circled the wagons and sued. With Washington leading the way and California close behind, the West is winning the legal battle -- for now.

Aiming at Trump

California's attorney general Xavier Becerra blames President Trump for the skirmish. The plastic guns -- sometimes called "ghost guns" -- are virtually untraceable and undetectable.

"Donald Trump will have his fingerprints all over these weapons if they start to be produced in places like California," Becerra said. "It will make it nearly impossible for law enforcement to know who has weapons and what kind."

It's "crazy" and "outrageous," Becerra said this week. Four years ago, when the first 100,000 blueprints were downloaded, it was a different story.

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