Virginia in coalition of states suing over regulations of 3D printed firearms

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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Twenty states, including Virginia, have filed a lawsuit challenging regulation that would allow for blueprints for making 3D-printed guns available online.

Right now, anyone with a 3D printer could make their own guns if they had the right blueprints. Attorney General Mark Herring says those weapons would be unregistered and untraceable assault-style weapons that could be difficult to detect.

That’s why Virginia is one of 20 states suing to keep those blueprints off the internet, but a local gun expert says prohibiting that information could be violating your rights.

A Texas-based company pioneered the idea and the Trump Administration attempted in 2018 to make those blueprints available over the internet for anyone to access but faced opposition from the states - now they are trying again.

“We have filed suit once against the administration to block it and we’re doing it again,” Herring said.

Herring and over 20 other state attorney generals are filing suit against the current administration for the second time to block these files

“3D guns are sometimes known as ghost guns because they are virtually untraceable and undetectable even with a metal detector, so they are very dangerous,” Herring said.

Herring is worried about where these weapons could end up.

“Someone who has access to a commercial 3D printer means that they could print these guns put them out on the streets,” Herring said.

Firearms expert Jim Reynolds says information on how to build a traditional firearm is available over the web now.

“There are companies that sell parts that are not completely finished, they are partially completed. The ATF does not consider those parts to be a firearm and somebody with basic skills can go in their garage and finish these parts and make a firearm for their own use,” Reynolds said.

Not only is finding that information simple, but he says it’s also constitutionally protected.

“Communicating that information is constitutionally protected speech. It’s your First Amendment right to be able to transfer that information to somebody and teach them to do that,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds says firearms should be used safely and legally, but fears what limitations could be placed on similar information in the future if the blueprints for 3D guns are restricted.

“I understand why they think they should but I don’t agree with it because that brings us down a slippery slope,” Reynolds said.

“The administration will have an opportunity to tell its side of the story, but we feel confident that this step is not only dangerous and reckless but also illegal and we’ll be successful again,” Herring said.

The administration is trying to get around those challenges by transferring the regulation of 3D-printed guns from the State Department to the Department of Commerce.

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