- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for AG Healey Joining Lawsuit to Prevent Threat of Undetectable 3D-Printed Firearms
Boston — Attorney General Maura Healey will join a multistate lawsuit today seeking to block a Trump Administration action that gives dangerous individuals access to downloadable, untraceable and undetectable 3D-printed weapons.
The complaint against the U.S. Department of State, to be filed today by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson in federal court will also be joined by Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. The action seeks to stop a settlement and rule changes that would allow the company Defense Distributed to post files online to allow individuals to print guns using 3D printers.
AG Healey today also led a multistate letter of 21 state attorneys general urging U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to withdraw from this settlement, writing that these actions recklessly disregard public safety.
“The federal government is trying to allow access to online plans that will allow anyone to anonymously build their own downloadable, untraceable, and undetectable gun,” said AG Healey. “This is an imminent threat to public safety and violates the law. We have a responsibility to ensure that these files are not made easily available to the public.”
The attorneys general have expressed serious concerns over the federal government’s recent settlement with Defense Distributed, an online company that in 2013 was previously instructed by the U.S. Department of State to remove downloadable files for building firearms from its website.
In 2015, Defense Distributed sued the Department of State to allow this information to be available online. The Department of State recently agreed to amend federal rules regulating the export of weapons on the United States Munitions List. The proposed rules would allow information about certain military weapons such as semi-automatic firearms, previously considered critical to national security and public safety, to be uploaded to the Internet.
The attorneys general argue that these actions will facilitate violations of state and federal law and create unprecedented risks to public safety, allowing terrorists, transnational criminals, convicted felons, and individuals otherwise prohibited by federal and state laws from purchasing, manufacturing, selling, and possessing firearms to have unrestricted access to computer designs for unsafe, undetectable and untraceable firearms.
In today’s lawsuit, the attorneys general will seek a nationwide injunction requiring the federal government to refrain from making any rule changes that will allow these firearms to be available online.
The Arms Export Control Act requires the federal government to reduce the international trade of firearms abroad, which the federal government has successfully done through the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, in part by prohibiting certain technical data about weapons from being made publicly available. Many states, including Massachusetts, also have independent laws and regulations to prevent gun violence and protect public safety. The attorneys general argue that publicly available information on 3-D printed weapons will enable the production of firearms that are untraceable and undetectable by magnetometers in places such as airports, government buildings and schools. Additionally, unrestricted access to this kind of information will increase illegal trafficking of weapons across state and national borders.
Earlier in July, a news report quoted Defense Distributed’s founder, Cody Wilson, as saying, “All this Parkland stuff, the students, all these dreams of ‘common sense gun reforms’? No. The internet will serve guns, the gun is downloadable . . . No amount of petitions or die-ins or anything else can change that.”
The attorneys general also expressed their concern about the Department of State’s abrupt change in position on these matters, pointing to arguments the Department of Justice and Department of State have made for years in the challenge brought by Defense Distributed. Until very recently, the Department of State had argued that the federal government has a strong national security interest in the regulation of these types of files. The attorneys general also note that courts have previously recognized the risk of allowing these gun designs to be publicly available on the Internet, and urge the Administration not to disregard those rulings.
Joining AG Healey in today’s letter include state attorneys general from Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.