Eight states are filing suit against the Trump administration over its decision to allow a Texas company to publish downloadable blueprints for a 3D-printed gun.
Eight US states on Monday filed a lawsuit to block a Trump administration decision enabling 3D printers to make plastic handguns that opponents say will be nearly impossible to control.
The company behind the plans, Austin, Texas-based Defense Distributed, had reached a settlement with the federal government in June allowing it to make the plans for the guns available for download on Wednesday.
It was the conclusion of a five-year legal battle in which the Obama administration had argued that the Internet tutorials and manuals violated firearm export laws, while the company's owner, Cody Wilson alleged the State Department was violating his First Amendment right to free speech and Second Amendment right to bear arms.
Shapiro says he, Gov. Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania State Police sued the company before its formal rollout of a downloadable gun program Wednesday.
In response to the State Department's decision, 21 state attorneys general sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to argue the decision was "deeply risky and could have an unprecedented impact on public safety".
The weapons, he said, "could be printed anywhere in the world and, therefore, it can give national security apparatuses a great, great headache because they can't detect them".
The proliferation of such firearms could also take business away from the traditional gun industry, the companies that the NRA represents, and confound law enforcement in attempts to reduce gun violence or get illegal guns off the street. "The company also agreed to not upload any new gun files to its sites - another important development".
"The decision tonight to block Pennsylvania users from downloading these 3D gun files is a victory for public safety and common sense".
Representatives for the U.S. State Department, which signed off on the settlement allowing publication of the designs to go forward, did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
A 3-D printed gun's quality often depends on the sophistication of the printer and the quality of the plastic used.
State attorneys general are the state officials who can bring cases against the federal government.
"I have a question for the Trump Administration: Why are you allowing unsafe criminals easy access to weapons?"
According to spokeswoman Brionna Aho, the judge's ruling does not order Defense Distribution to take the plans for the guns off their website, but keeping them up is again illegal.
Several Democratic U.S. senators said Trump was correct to question the 3-D gun plan sales but said his administration created the problem by recently settling the long-standing lawsuit, allowing Defense Distributed to publish its designs. The files were published on Friday. "These downloadable guns are unregistered and very hard to detect, even with metal detectors, and will be available to anyone regardless of age, mental health or criminal history".
A team at the University of Toronto's Critical Making Lab printed a handgun using a $50,000 3D printer at the university in 2013, but it modified the gun's blueprints so that the gun would be impossible to fire.
The decision comes after the end of a years-long legal battle between a Texas man, Cody Wilson, and the US government.