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TOMORROW: Downloadable Guns Hearing in Washington State Federal Court

August 20, 2018

Tomorrow, a federal court in Washington state will hold a hearing to decide if the temporary injunction blocking the Trump Administration’s reckless decision to permit the online distribution of downloadable guns should remain in place. Everytown filed an amicus brief in the case, urging the court to extend the temporary injunction that maintains the current law that prohibits the dissemination of the computer code used to automatically create these dangerous downloadable guns.

The hearing is in response to a suit filed on July 30 by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the attorneys general of seven states and the District of Columbia, asking the court to bar the government from lifting its prohibition on companies disseminating the computer code for downloadable guns. The court granted the request. The suit has since been joined by a bipartisan group of attorneys general from another 12 states.

This hearing is not the final step on downloadable guns — it will simply determine whether the temporary injunction should remain in place for the duration of the case. While the court continues to consider this case, Congress needs to act now to pass S. 3304, introduced by Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), and H.R. 6649, introduced by Representative Ted Deutch (D-FL), to permanently prohibit the posting of any downloadable gun computer code that can be used to program a 3D printer to print a firearm. Taking this action has broad, bipartisan support as eight out of 10 Americans say 3D-printed gun blueprints shouldn’t be available on the internet — a consensus on gun policy that cuts across party and ideological lines, according to a new Axios/SurveyMonkey poll.


On July 27, the State Department modified the United States Munitions List to allow a single company — Defense Distributed — to move forward with the distribution of computer code for downloadable, untraceable guns. With gun schematics in hand, a person can print their own firearm with a commercially available 3D printer—with no criminal background check, no serial number and completely outside the licensed dealer system. The plans also enable the printing of purely plastic guns, undetectable by metal detectors, which could be snuck onto an airplane or into a government building.

State attorneys general from all over the country reacted swiftly — In addition to the lawsuit brought by the bipartisan group of attorneys general, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro filed suit against Defense Distributed, which is run by a self-proclaimed anarchist who wants to undermine gun safety laws, and successfully blocked this gun code from being made available for download in Pennsylvania.

The New Jersey attorney general also filed a lawsuit against Defense Distributed that caused the company to stop making its downloadable guns available in New Jersey and forced it to agree to not upload any new printable gun codes until after a court hearing in September. Twenty one attorneys general led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey sent a letter to the State Department raising concerns over its settlement allowing a single company to publish online blueprints for downloadable guns.

Several members of Congress, including Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced legislation to address the threat of downloadable guns. These common-sense bills would stop this dangerous development by blocking the blueprints for downloadable guns from being made available online and strengthening the law prohibiting undetectable firearms.

Law enforcement officials, including the Former chief of Capitol Police and sergeant at arms of the United States Senate and the sheriff from Maricopa County, AZ, military veterans and gun violence survivors have all urged the State Department to protect public safety by blocking the dissemination of these dangerous gun codes.

More information about downloadable guns is available here. If you have any questions as you cover this, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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