Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Governor Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania State Police tonight successfully blocked access to 3D downloadable guns in Pennsylvania. Following an emergency hearing in federal court in Philadelphia initiated by the Attorney General, a company seeking to distribute downloadable gun files over the Internet agreed to make its sites unaccessible to Pennsylvania users, and to not upload any new 3D gun files.
Before today’s hearing, the company, Defense Distributed, had promised that on August 1, “the age of the downloadable gun formally begins.” Today, the defendants claimed in court that they began distributing gun files even earlier – on Friday. By Sunday, 1,000 people had already downloaded 3D plans for AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifles.
The public safety controversy erupted after Defense Distributed recently settled with the federal government following a lengthy litigation, allowing it to continue its ‘at home’ gun-printing business. Left unchecked, Americans would be able to download a wide range of actual, working guns, including AR-15s, and 3D print their own guns – without serial numbers and without being subjected to the background check system for gun sales currently in place under federal and state law through licensed firearms dealers.
Attorney General Shapiro, Gov. Wolf and the State Police sued today in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, to block the company from distributing its 3D gun designs in Pennsylvania. This evening, the company agreed to block Pennsylvania users from its site, following an emergency hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Paul Diamond.
“The harm to Pennsylvanians would have been immediate and irreversible,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “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. The decision tonight to block Pennsylvania users from downloading these 3D gun files is a victory for public safety and common sense. The company also agreed to not upload any new gun files to its sites – another important development.”
“The threat of untraceable guns in the hands of unknown owners is too daunting to stand by and not take action,” Governor Wolf said. “Attorney General Shapiro and I will fight to protect Pennsylvania families and children. 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.”
According to the lawsuit, anyone can become a member of Defense Distributed for a nominal fee. When you sign up, you are only required to pick a username, password and supply an email – you are not asked for proof of age, a valid gun license or a permit-to-carry number. The company promises that by joining, members “do more than protect the Second Amendment. They fund its direct, material expansion”, according to the lawsuit.
Over decades, Pennsylvania lawmakers have created legal controls to ensure citizens can safely exercise all of the rights to which they are entitled: the right to bear arms and the right to live peacefully. The lawsuit states that “among these controls are criminal laws, including the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act. This long-settled statute requires protections in order to possess potentially-deadly weapons such a minimum age for purchase, background checks, and valid firearms licenses and permits.”
The lawsuit states that “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 Commonwealth’s lawsuit alleges violations of the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act of 1995 and the Federal Gun Control Act of 1968, as well as Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law. The Commonwealth applied for a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunction to prevent Defense Distributed from making any 3D printable firearms available over the Internet.
Attorney General Shapiro and his legal team, working in concert with the Governor and State Police, will continue seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction against Defense Distributed’s plans to make its 3D gun files available online as the litigation continues.