Access to downloadable files that could allow someone to print a firearm on a 3D printer have been banned – at least for now – in Pennsylvania.
“The harm to Pennsylvanians would have been immediate and irreversible,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said.
On Sunday night, Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office was successfully able to get access to 3D downloadable guns, often called “ghost guns,” blocked following an emergency hearing in federal court in Philadelphia. The move won support from Gov. Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania State Police.
One of the main concerns is that the gun plans would printed on 3D printers and be nearly untraceable to law enforcement. With 3D printed firearms files being accessible, even those legally barred from owning guns could have access to print them.
Texas-based group Defense Distributed, founded by a 30-year-old self-described “crypto-anarchist,” promised to put downloadable files online August 1 but announce some files were distributed last Friday. The attorney general’s office said 1,000 copies of 3D plans for AR-15 rifles had been downloaded as of Sunday.
According to the lawsuit file by Shapiro’s office, anyone can become a member of Defense Distributed for a small fee. Those who sign up are required to pick a username, password, and supply an email. Officials took issue that with the fact there is no proof of age requirement, or a valid gun license or a permit-to-carry number.
“Defense Distributed was promising to distribute guns in Pennsylvania in reckless disregard of the state laws that apply to gun sales and purchases in our Commonwealth. Once these untraceable guns are on our streets and in our schools, we can never get them back,” Shapiro said.
Five years ago, federal officials objected to Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson’s publication of 3D printable firearm files and halted them after 100,000 downloads, according to USA Today. He sued and a settlement agreed to by the federal government meant that he could start posting 3D firearm plans online this summer.
“The federal government has abdicated its responsibility to keep our citizens safe but we will not be deterred from working to ensure Pennsylvania safety laws are followed and our residents are protected from these dangerous weapons getting in the wrong hands,” Wolf said.
David Chipman, a retired Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives special agent and advisor to gun control political action committee Americans for Responsible Solutions, raised the alarm on 3D printable gun plans.
“Law enforcement will now face significant threats due to this 3D-printed technology,” he said, adding that lawmakers must act.
National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch said on a gun advocacy program that 3D guns symbolize “freedom and innovation.”
Shapiro’s office said they will move forward with action seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions against Defense Distributed.