Pennsylvania officials get downloadable 3-D guns blocked

A Texas-based company, Defense Distributed, agreed to temporarily block letting Pennsylvanians download plans for 3-D guns from their website after state lawmakers moved to stop the website.

The company boasts on its website that on Aug. 1, “The age of the downloadable gun formally begins,” as they were planning to post files that could be downloaded and used in a 3-D printer to create real 3-D guns.

But Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro said that the company’s website opened its servers earlier, on Friday, July 27, and over the weekend, some 1,000 people downloaded the file to print their own AR-15 rifles.

On Sunday, Shapiro, Gov. Tom Wolf and Pennsylvania State Police sued Defense Distributed to block the website in their home state. After an emergency federal court hearing over the weekend, the company agreed to block Pennsylvania users from accessing the site.

“The harm to Pennsylvanians would have been immediate and irreversible,” Shapiro said in a statement. “Defense Distributed was promising to distribute guns in Pennsylvania in reckless disregard of the state laws that apply to gun sales and purchases in our Commonwealth. Once these untraceable guns are on our streets and in our schools, we can never get them back.”

A Defense Distributed model of its downloadable 3-D guns.

Philadelphia previously passed a law illegalizing 3-D guns, which can be created out of plastic using 3-D printers, bypassing all gun sales regulations and typical safety protocols and are often capable of bypassing metal detectors, but can be equally deadly and are capable of firing real bullets.

“The threat of untraceable guns in the hands of unknown owners is too daunting to stand by and not take action,” Wolf said in a statement. “The federal government has abdicated its responsibility to keep our citizens safe but we will not be deterred from working to ensure Pennsylvania safety laws are followed and our residents are protected from these dangerous weapons getting in the wrong hands.”

Do 3-D guns kill?

Defense Distributed recently settled a federal lawsuit, allowing the company to continue distributing plans for 3-d guns online. They charge a membership fee to users but do not check users for gun licenses.

Shapiro’s office is suing to make the ban on the website’s accessibility in Pennsylvania permanent, arguing that the company violates the state’s Uniform Firearms Act. “Defense Distributed has sought to bypass these established legal requirements to instantaneously deliver real, operational firearms to any Pennsylvanian with an internet connection and a 3D printer,” the AG’s office wrote in its lawsuit.

No fatalities have yet been reported due to 3-D guns. But ATF tests of certain models found that they indeed can fire real bullets, depending on the type of plastic they are manufactured with, and could potentially be as powerful as real guns. 

Defense Distributed did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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