SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today joined a coalition of 21 attorneys general in a lawsuit against the Trump Administration’s irresponsible efforts to loosen regulations governing blueprints for 3D-printed guns. The new rule attempts to circumvent existing Congressional oversight and make it easier for the Trump Administration to unilaterally allow blueprints for the manufacture of untraceable and undetectable ghost guns to be made publicly available. Because they are generally made from materials that can escape normal methods of detection in places like airports, government buildings, or schools, 3D-printed guns pose particularly high risks.
“Loosening the rules on 3D-printed firearms puts lives at risk,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The Trump Administration should focus on reducing violence, not making it easier for criminals to get their hands on untraceable and undetectable ghost guns. We successfully challenged the Trump Administration’s first reckless attempt, and we will continue to fight against this latest attack on the safety of our communities.”
The lawsuit challenges yet another attempt by the Trump Administration to open the door to the publication of blueprints for 3D-printed guns. The new rule would remove most downloadable gun files from the U.S. State Department’s munitions list, which serves to protect against the international trafficking of arms, and transfer regulatory control to the U.S. Commerce Department. This would effectively remove Congressional oversight of the distribution of blueprints for ghost guns online and create a loophole allowing unfettered access to blueprints through other means, such as email or hard drive transfer. In promulgating the rule, the Trump Administration failed to comply with notice-and-comment requirements under the Administrative Procedure Act and, disturbingly, failed to consider or mitigate important national security concerns associated with removing 3D-printed guns from the munitions list.
In August 2018, Attorney General Becerra joined a coalition of 20 attorneys general in challenging a settlement that would have allowed Defense Distributed — a private Texas-based company — to post downloadable firearms blueprints on the internet. As a result of the coalition’s efforts, the U.S. District Court for Western District of Washington temporarily blocked the deal on August 27, 2018 and permanently halted it on November 12, 2019. The District Court found that the modification violated the Administrative Procedures Act, effectively reinstating an earlier determination that the blueprints were “munitions” and could not be “exported” by Defense Distributed through the posting of the files on the internet.
In filing the lawsuit, Attorney General Becerra joins the attorneys general of Washington, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
A copy of the complaint is available here.