A small Texas nonprofit is taking orders to mail blueprints for computer-made 3-D guns to anyone willing to pay for them just a day after a federal judge blocked the designs from being published online amid a national debate over printable weapons.
Defense Distributed, a self-described private-defense firm, has received more than 600 orders for 10 gun templates since Monday, when a Seattle judge indefinitely blocked the firm from making its instructions available for download to print fully functional firearms at home using 3-D printers.
The Austin, Texas-based organization has also raised more than $200,000 in the past week thanks to the attention Defense Distributed has received since it was sued along with the Trump administration over the blueprints’ availability.
“I’m following the court order,” Cody Wilson, director of Defense Distributed, said by phone. “I’m not ignoring it or doing anything in spite of it.” Wilson added that the suit hasn’t prevented anything. “All the congratulatory rhetoric about stopping the guns — no, you haven’t accomplished what you wanted,” he said.
The judge also ridiculed the U.S. government’s argument downplaying the public safety threat from the weapons. Defense Distributed contended that untraceable guns are already prohibited under federal law. That argument “rings hollow,” U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik wrote, because the nonprofit is trying to remove regulatory hurdles to allow such weapons to be made.
Lasnik said in his ruling that regulation under the federal Arms Export Control Act “means that the files cannot be uploaded to the internet, but they can be emailed, mailed, securely transmitted, or otherwise published within the United States.”
Josh Blackman, a lawyer for Defense Distributed, said Tuesday that Lasnik’s ruling allows the plans to be sold without breaking the law.
The firearms industry has largely ignored the 3-D gun debate. The National Shooting Sports Foundation, which lobbies on behalf of gun makers, noted that homemade guns have long been legal in the United States but the trend of hobbyists making their own firearms has never run a risk to commercial gun makers in the past.
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who spearheaded the states’ case, on Tuesday blamed the Trump administration for not taking a hard stand against 3-D printed guns.
“Because of our lawsuit, it is once again illegal to post downloadable gun files to the Internet,” he said in a statement. “I trust the federal government will hold Cody Wilson, a self-described ‘crypto-anarchist,’ accountable to that law. If they don’t, President Trump will be responsible for anyone who is hurt or killed as a result of these weapons.”
Blackman said in an interview Tuesday that it’s up to buyers to name their own price for the blueprints, plus a $7 shipping fee. Defense Distributed is using the proceeds to launch a new website and expand its 3-D gun blueprint offerings, while cover the group’s legal costs, said Wilson.
“Everyone who wants these files will get them,” said Wilson. “We will be way more successful now.”
The Defense Distributed website displays a map of the U.S. showing that the blueprints aren’t being sold to residents of the 19 “blue” states that brought the lawsuit.
“Oops. You are behind the blue wall,” the web page reads. “Your masters say you can’t be trusted with this information.”