This chronology of events certainly captures modern America pretty well: On Sunday, a mass shooting and tragic loss of life. The next day, a judge’s order bars a Texas firm from putting blueprints for making untraceable 3D-printed guns online. The day after that, the founder of that company says ok, fine. Instead of putting them online en masse, I’ll just sell them, to one buyer at a time. Problem solved.
It’s all there, encapsulated in that sequence of events. A fascination with guns. An inability of the current legal and political system to put any meaningful new limits on the spread of guns. And a pro-gun activist using technology to put untraceable firearms — which you don’t need a background check for, since after all you’re just printing these — into more peoples’ hands than might otherwise have been able to obtain them.
As a quick recap: We reported just yesterday that a federal judge in Seattle issued a nationwide injunction on Monday that seemingly blocked the ability of Texas-based firearms company Defense Distributed to proceed with its plans of putting the blueprints online that show how to make 3D-printed guns.
Cody Wilson, the founder of that firm, said at a news conference today, however, that in light of the judge’s order which itself came just the day after a deadly mass shooting at a Madden video game tournament in Florida that he’s got a workaround. He’ll sell the files instead and ship them out on a flash drive.
“Today I want to clarify, anyone who wants these files will get them,” Wilson said, as reported by Reuters. His lawyer also released a statement today saying the judge’s order allows this individual sale, as opposed to putting everything online.
“Monday’s decision,” according to Reuters, had “blocked a settlement between the Trump administration and Defense Distributed, which argued that the U.S. Constitution guaranteed access to the online blueprints under the First Amendment right to free speech and the Second Amendment right to bear arms.”
George State University law professor Timothy Lytton, who’s written a book on gun litigation, told the news service that the founder of Defense Distributed “is trying to push the boundaries over what the U.S. Constitution protects, and the court will have to clarify whether the injunction goes far enough to cover flash drives.”
More than 1,000 people had already downloaded plans for the 3D-printed guns made available by Defense Distributed before the judge’s ruling earlier this week. Reuters goes on to note that files available on Defense Distributed’s website included blueprints of components for a version of the AR-15, the assault rifle used in several U.S. mass shootings, available for purchase at a suggested price of $10 each.