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Editorial Halt downloadable plans for making 3D guns

July 29, 2018

How could it be considered a good idea to let anyone make a do-it-yourself gun that would be untraceable and circumvent state and federal laws?

This is not something reasonable gun rights supporters are scrambling for. Unbelievably, it is our own government that is pushing to give this gift to terrorists and other criminals.

Defense Distributed wanted to post on the internet its blueprints for 3D printable guns, but the Justice Department argued that would violate federal export controls. The nonprofit organization joined with the Second Amendment Foundation to file a lawsuit against the Justice Department years ago, claiming a violation of its First Amendment right to free speech, as well as the Second Amendment right to bear arms, and the Fifth Amendment right to due process.

After fighting the lawsuit for years, and for reasons not explained, the Justice Department abruptly changed course last month and settled the suit. Not only did the department acquiesce to allow the public posting of blueprints to make a 3D firearm, but also it agreed to pay nearly $40,000 in legal fees to Defense Distributed and the foundation.

It is particularly galling that taxpayers’ money is paying those fees while the government is opening the door to a free-for-all manufacture of untraceable plastic guns.

“The settlement will allow these tutorials to be posted online for unlimited distribution to anyone — including felons and terrorists — both here in the United States and abroad. The American people have a right to know why their government agreed to such a dangerous outcome,” five senators, including Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy of Connecticut, wrote in a letter to the Justice Department last week. They demanded to see a copy of the settlement and receive a written explanation and briefing by Aug. 1.

They are not alone in their alarm. In a July 26 letter to President Trump, 53 groups implored him to stop Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department authorization to allow the gun-making tutorials to go online. Among the groups signing the letter are Newtown Action Alliance, Sandy Hook Promise, States United to Prevent Gun Violence, and MomsRising.

“Unless you stop the U.S. State Department from authorizing this special exemption for Defense Distributed, you are enabling terrorists, criminals, domestic abusers, and other prohibited firearm purchasers to use the downloadable gun technology,” they wrote to Trump.

Another objection is that the plastic guns cannot be discovered by metal detectors at airports, courthouses and other public places.

Proponents argue that the 3D printing machines and software are expensive, so everyone won’t be running out to set up a gun-making shop in their home. How ludicrous. It is easy to see, moreover, how it could quickly become a clandestine business.

Illegal guns on the street are dangerous enough to public safety without adding new unregistered, undetectable, untraceable firearms to the potent mix. Stop the insanity.

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