Effort to stop the sharing of plastic guns should be applauded.
A scary attempt to kill every sensible gun law in Washington and across the nation is on hold for now, thanks to some fast action by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and a group of his fellow state attorneys general.
Seattle U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik on Tuesday granted a temporary restraining order blocking a Texas man from releasing downloadable blueprints for 3-D printed plastic firearms. These so-called “ghost guns” are invisible to metal detectors, are untraceable because they don’t have serial numbers and stymie forensics that try to connect bullets to weapons. They could create a whole new underground market for plastic firearms, where no background checks are required.
The attorneys general’s federal lawsuit intends to overturn the outcome of a 2015 case involving gun-rights advocate Cody Wilson, who challenged an earlier decision forcing him to take down the downloadable plans. The Trump administration settled with Wilson this June and gave him permission to make his creations publicly available again. Lasnik’s decision was made just in time, as Wilson had planned to release the “ghost gun” blueprints Wednesday.
Wilson didn’t just want to share his knowledge about creating guns with a 3-D printer. As the attorneys general write in their lawsuit, his aim is to eliminate all firearm regulations. On the day the agreement with the Trump administration was made public, Wilson tweeted a photo of a tombstone announcing the death of American gun control, according to the lawsuit. Shockingly, he also stated: “All this Parkland stuff, the students, all these dreams of ‘common sense gun reforms’? No. The internet will serve guns…”
Dangerous and unacceptable.
Lasnik’s decision probably won’t stop plastic guns in the long-run – Wilson’s plans were downloaded more than 100,000 times before he was forced to remove them – but it will give policymakers and law enforcement some breathing room to address this new threat.
These firearms would be available to anybody with access to a 3-D printer, which are now available for purchase for as little as $100.
Washington and other states have gun laws with a sensible aim: Keep weapons out of the hands of children, minors, people convicted of violent crimes, the mentally ill and people subject to domestic abuse or other protection orders.
After a hearing on Tuesday, Ferguson said in a statement: “These ghost guns are untraceable, virtually undetectable and, without today’s victory, available to any felon, domestic abuser or terrorist.”
Technology often moves faster than public policy and common sense. Kudos to Lasnik and Ferguson for taking a stand in the shifting sands of the internet.