A website called Defense Distributed had plans to release downloadable design files for 3D-printed handguns and semiautomatic rifles this week, before a federal judge stepped in and issued a temporary restraining order.
U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik in Seattle granted the restraining order after eight attorneys general argued that allowing the spread of downloadable weapons would have posed a national security threat. "There is a possibility of irreparable harm because of the way these guns can be made," he explained.
"In a major victory for common sense and public safety, a federal judge just granted our request for a nationwide temporary restraining order—blocking the Trump administration from allowing the distribution of materials to easily 3-D print guns," New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood said after the decision was revealed. "As we argued in the suit we filed yesterday, it is—simply—crazy to give criminals the tools to build untraceable, undetectable 3-D printed guns at the touch of a button. Yet that’s exactly what the Trump administration decided to allow."
Tuesday's restraining order came after Defense Distributed had agreed to a settlement with the federal government in June, allowing them to follow through on their controversial business plan. At the time, they celebrated with the statement, "The age of the downloadable gun formally begins."
The company was getting ready to make the downloadable gun files available online Wednesday, but Lasnik's decision halted those plans. In response, the attorney for Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson said, "We were disappointed in the ruling and view it as a massive prior restraint of free speech."
Tuesday morning, Donald Trump weighed in on the issue and tweeted that he thought selling the guns to the public "doesn't seem to make much sense."
As the Washington Post points out, the plastic guns are untraceable because they don't have serial numbers, wouldn't require a background check to print, and could be easy to destroy after using. The open-source gun distribution model proposed by Defense Distributed could present a dangerous new problem for a country already struggling with gun control issues.