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Everytown For Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action Applaud Attorneys General For Suing to Prevent Schematics for Downloadable, Untraceable Guns to be Posted Online

January 24, 2020

21 Attorneys General Filed Suit in Washington State to Prevent The Trump Administration From Enabling Schematics for Downloadable, Untraceable Guns to Be Posted Online

In Previous Suit, Attorneys General Succeeded in Blocking the Trump Administration from Allowing Downloadable Gun Schematics to be Posted Online

WASHINGTON — Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a part of Everytown, released the following statements today applauding 21 attorneys general for filing suit in Washington state to prevent the Trump administration from enabling schematics for downloadable, untraceable guns to be posted online. 

“These attorneys general are doing life-saving work by trying to correct a dangerous Trump administration decision that would allow felons, domestic abusers, and terrorists to create untraceable guns with ease,” said Nick Suplina, Everytown’s managing director for law and policy.

“The Trump administration has ignored the vast majority of Americans who agree that downloadable gun schematics shouldn’t be accessible online, allowing anyone to create untraceable weapons anywhere,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “I applaud these attorneys general for stepping up where this administration has failed.”

The suit, filed last night, is led by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the attorneys general of 19 other states and DC. It came just hours after the Trump administration finalized a rule shifting oversight of downloadable guns from the State Department to the Department of Commerce––thus making it easier to post downloadable gun schematics online. The attorneys general are seeking to block the rule, arguing that the administration has failed to provide any rationale for weakening oversight of downloadable guns, which endanger Americans by making it easier for terrorists and criminals to obtain these weapons. 

The argument that there is no evidence justifying the rule mirrors those made in a previous successful attorneys general suit, also filed in Washington state, in which a federal court granted a nationwide injunction then found the Trump administration’s previous attempt to exempt one company from the State Department’s rule unlawful. The next day, the Trump administration moved forward with the shift in oversight despite the court’s ruling and the American people’s overwhelming opposition to downloadable gun schematics being posted online, therefore enabling anyone––including convicted felons and domestic abusers––to download schematics and 3D-print their own untraceable guns. 

Since downloadable gun schematics were first posted online in 2013, they have begun to show up in the hands of criminals. In February of 2019, for example, a Texas man was sentenced to 8 years in prison after officers caught him with a partially 3D-printed AR-15 rifle and a list of lawmakers’ addresses in his backpack, despite being banned from owning a firearm due to a violent altercation with a live-in girlfriend. According to the Congressional Research Service, the 3-D printer that a criminal would need to create such a weapon could cost less than $150. As the suit says, “the [Trump administration’s] Final Rules are toothless: they contain significant loopholes that will permit Firearm Files to be globally disseminated with ease.”

After the initial announcement in July 2018 that downloadable guns would be released online, there has been an outpouring of opposition from state attorneys general, elected officials, and Americans across the country:

  • Law enforcement officials and military veterans urged the State Department to protect public safety by blocking the publication of these schematics; 
  • Everytown’s supporters made 24,851 calls and sent 164,436 messages to the State Department; 
  • In the previous successful lawsuit mentioned above, the Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the attorneys general of nineteen other states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit to bar the government from lifting its prohibitions on companies distributing computer code for downloadable guns. The attorneys general’s legal theory was largely based on a motion initially filed by Everytown Law and other leading gun safety organizations in Texas federal court. Everytown filed an amicus curiae brief in support of that lawsuit. 

The attorneys general were successful in that initial lawsuit. The court found that the State Department failed to give thirty days’ notice to the Congressional foreign relations committees as required by 22 U.S.C. § 2778(f)(1). The court further found that the agency action was arbitrary and capricious for two reasons:

  • “The agency failed to consider aspects of the problem which Congress deemed important before issuing the temporary modification and letter on July 27, 2018.” 
  • The Department of State had previously determined that downloadable guns would be “a threat to world peace and the national security interests of the United States and would cause serious and long-lasting harm to its foreign policy,” and the court found that “the agency failed to identify substantial evidence in the administrative record explaining a change of position that necessarily contradicts its prior determinations and findings regarding the threats posed by [downloadable guns] and the need to regulate [them].” 

Experts are available to provide more information on downloadable guns and the litigation.

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