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The Debate over Plastic and Printable Firearms

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The Debate over Plastic and Printable Firearms

On July 31st, U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik issued a temporary restraining order which ordered the issue of online blueprints for 3D guns be halted.

The company, Defense Distributed, located in Texas has fought for years to sell and virtually distribute blueprints for 3D printable guns. Some people argue that Defense Distributed has a right under the second amendment to sell and distribute the blueprints.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has also voiced its opinion on the issue. “Many anti-gun politicians and members of the media have wrongly claimed that 3-D printing technology will allow for the production and widespread proliferation of undetectable plastic firearms. Regardless of what a person may be able to publish on the Internet, undetectable plastic guns have been illegal for 30 years,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director according to the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action.

The blueprints can be downloaded and printed on 3D printers to create a firearm. The Trump administration had previously decided to let the company issue the blueprints and sell them. According to Vice News and USA Today, the cost of printers which can 3D print plastic guns range from $5,000 to $600,000 dollars. .

Days before the restraining order was issued, Defense Distributed had released the blueprints for one of their guns, the Liberator. The Liberator, and ones like it, can be printed out of plastic which is not detectable in metal detectors. However, since the plastic firearms are made of plastic, they typically only can fire a couple of rounds.

Defense Distributed previously filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration. The Obama administration blocked the blueprint distribution in 2015. In June, the State Department lifted the ban because the department argued that the Obama-era ban had violated the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). ITAR, which is a federal law, allows the export of weapons.

“It is, simply, crazy to give criminals the tools to build untraceable, undetectable 3D-printed guns at the touch of a button. Yet that’s exactly what the Trump administration is allowing,” said New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, according to Politico.

Democrats in the government were quick to rebuke the company and the Trump administration. “All you need is a little money and you can download a blueprint from the internet to make a gun at home,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (Democrat), according to Politico.

Currently, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Connecticut, Washington, and New York have filed a lawsuit against the government in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington against the federal government for allowing Defense Distributed to publish the blueprints.

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