New York and New Jersey sue feds over blueprints for 3D-printable guns

Image 1 of 2

New York's attorney general is vowing to fight the release of files for 3D-printed guns, petitioning both the U.S. State Department and filing suit in federal court against Defense Distributed, the company publishing the blueprints.

There's just one problem: thousands of people have already begun downloading them. If you refresh the website every few seconds, you'll see the download count next to each gun file tick steadily up.

Since Friday, thousands of people have downloaded the 3D printer code for an AR-15 assault rifle. Mass shooters used that type of rifle in Newtown, San Bernardino, Orlando, Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, and Parkland.

Even more popular is the Liberator, the untraceable plastic handgun that Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson first fired five years ago. Video showing Wilson shooting the plastic gun got New York Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal's attention.

"I introduced a bill, which I still carry, that would have banned possession of guns manufactured through 3D printing and make it a D-felony, which could earn someone up to seven years in prison," Rosenthal said.

Even though Obama administration blocked Wilson from distributing his printer codes, Rosenthal kept reintroducing her bill. State Sen. Brad Hoylman and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer have now introduced similar bills after a federal judge this weekend allowed Defense Distributed to begin publishing its files under a settlement with the Trump administration.

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood is trying to undo that settlement in a lawsuit with eight other state attorneys general.

"It is, simply, crazy to give criminals the tools to build untraceable, undetectable 3D printed guns at the touch of a button," Underwood said in a statement. "Yet that's exactly what the Trump administration is allowing. We won't stand by as New Yorkers' safety is jeopardized by this abrupt about-face by the federal government."

Meanwhile, Defense Distributed is suing New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal over his demand the company once again take down its code.

"The government does not have the power to tell people they can't post information to the internet—that's a violation of free speech," Defense Distributed attorney Josh Blackman said. "Also state law is trumped by federal law and the U.S. State Department gave our client a license to post these files online. So this is unconstitutional action in every respect."

But Grewal, who joined the new multistate lawsuit, is pushing forward.

"@DefDist sued me for trying to keep untraceable guns out of the hands of terrorists and criminals," he tweeted. "So be it. I'm not backing down on public safety."

New Jersey filed its own lawsuit in state court trying to get the files taken down, even as Defense Distributed has voluntarily suspended access to the site from people with New Jersey-based internet addresses.