Fears grow over 3-D printed guns (2013)

CNN Justice correspondent Evan Perez reports on growing fears over 3-D printed guns.

Posted: Jul 20, 2018 5:45 PM
Updated: Jul 20, 2018 5:47 PM

Gun-rights activists have reached a settlement with the government that will allow them to post 3-D printable gun plans online starting August 1.

The settlement ends a multi-year legal battle that started when Cody Wilson, who describes himself as a post-left anarchist, posted plans for a 3-D printed handgun he called "The Liberator" in 2013.

The single-shot pistol was made almost entirely out of of ABS plastic -- the same stuff they make Lego bricks out of -- that could be made on a 3-D printer. The only metal parts were the firing pin and a piece of metal included to comply with the Undetectable Firearms Act.

The US State Department told Wilson and his non-profit group Defense Distributed to take down the plans. It said the plans could violate International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which regulate the export of defense materials, services and technical data.

In essence, officials said someone in another country -- a country the US doesn't sell weapons to -- could download the material and make their own gun.

Wilson complied, but said the files already had been downloaded a million times.

He sued the federal government in 2015.

U.S. requires group to remove 3D gun instructions from its website

The settlement

The settlement, which is dated June 29, says that Wilson and Defense Distributed can publish plans, files and 3-D drawings in any form and exempts them from the export restrictions. The government also agreed to pay almost $40,000 of Wilson's legal fees and to refund some registration fees.

The settlement has not been made public, but Wilson's attorneys provided a copy to CNN.

"We asked for the Moon and we figured the government would reject it, but they didn't want to go to trial," said Alan M. Gottlieb with the Second Amendment Foundation, which helped in the case. "The government fought us all the way and then all of the sudden folded their tent."

Gottlieb said they filed the lawsuit during the Obama administration, but he doesn't think that explains the change of heart.

"These were all career people that we were dealing with. I don't think there was anything political about it," he said.

Avery Gardiner, the co-president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said she'd be astonished if the settlement wasn't approved by political appointees.

"We were shocked and disappointed that the Trump administration would make a secret backroom deal with very little notice," Gardiner said. She said she found out about the settlement from a magazine article.

The group has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for emails and other documents related to the settlement.

Josh Blackman, Wilson's attorney, said he wished the settlement signaled a philosophical change.

"They were going to lose this case," Blackman said. "If the government litigated this case and they lost this decision could be used to challenge other kinds of gun control laws."

The implications

Do-it-yourself firearms like The Liberator have been nicknamed "Ghost Guns" because they don't have serial numbers and are untraceable.

Wilson has built a website where people will be able to download The Liberator and digital files for an AR-15 lower receiver, a complete Baretta M9 handgun and other firearms. Users will also be able to share their own designs for guns, magazines and other accessories.

He says the files will be a good resource for builders, even though it's not yet practical for most people to 3-D print most of the guns.

"It's still out of reach for them. We'll get to watch it all develop," Wilson said. "The plans will be here when that moment comes."

For Wilson and his supporters, the ability to build unregulated and untraceable guns will make it much harder, if not impossible for governments to ban them.

Gardiner fears it will make it easier for terrorists and people who are too dangerous to pass criminal background checks to get their hands on guns.

"I think everybody in America ought to be terrified about that."

Opinion: 3-D printed guns are a boon for criminals

The fact that high end 3-D printers are still too expensive for most people doesn't ease her concerns.

"The people who make them will be state actors or well financed criminal cartels who have the ability to execute well organized criminal attacks in the United States and elsewhere," she said.

She said that providing the plans to anyone in the world, who has Internet access is a national security threat.

The Defense Distributed website proclaims that "the age of the downloadable gun formally begins."

Terre Haute
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 61°
Robinson
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 59°
Indianapolis
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 61°
Rockville
Clear
56° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 56°
Casey
Clear
60° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 60°
Brazil
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 61°
Marshall
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 61°
Low chance of storms tonight with clearing conditions
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Monday: Mostly sunny with average temperatures. High: 86°

Image

Federal Executions Resuming

Image

TH Women's City Golf Championship

Image

Sunday Morning Forecast Update

Image

Saturday Morning Forecast Update

Image

Ryan Lieberman

Image

Zoe Stewart

Image

WVFCA Friday Night Lights

Image

Tim Hayes

Image

Keeping your house cooler without running the A.C. all day

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 155048

Reported Deaths: 7388
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook955574725
Lake10378428
DuPage9719486
Kane8107281
Will7278326
Winnebago3169106
St. Clair2304144
McHenry2266102
Kankakee143166
Madison119870
Rock Island119430
Unassigned1185201
Kendall106323
Champaign104017
Peoria66630
DeKalb64220
Boone63721
Sangamon53133
Jackson35619
McLean32215
Randolph3157
Ogle3144
Stephenson2856
LaSalle25917
Macon25322
Clinton24616
Union21219
Whiteside21215
Grundy1945
Coles19117
Iroquois1755
Tazewell1758
Knox1700
Adams1691
Williamson1614
Monroe15913
Warren1490
Cass1409
Morgan1344
Henry1161
Jefferson11417
McDonough10815
Lee1072
Vermilion892
Pulaski840
Marion770
Montgomery741
Macoupin693
Douglas610
Perry611
Jo Daviess551
Livingston552
Christian514
Woodford482
Jasper477
Franklin460
Jersey431
Ford421
Clark410
Bureau372
Menard320
Effingham311
Cumberland290
Mercer290
Johnson260
Alexander250
Washington250
Fayette243
Mason240
Moultrie240
Wabash230
Bond222
Carroll212
Hancock211
Logan210
Piatt210
Crawford200
Shelby201
Edgar190
Wayne191
De Witt180
Saline170
Fulton160
Massac160
Schuyler130
Lawrence120
Marshall120
Brown100
White100
Greene90
Richland90
Henderson80
Hamilton70
Pike70
Gallatin60
Stark60
Clay50
Edwards50
Calhoun10
Hardin10
Pope10
Putnam10
Scott10
Out of IL00

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 51612

Reported Deaths: 2760
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion12074693
Lake5650249
Elkhart361860
Allen2952134
St. Joseph214869
Hamilton1708101
Cass16459
Hendricks1466100
Johnson1345118
Porter84038
Tippecanoe7799
Vanderburgh7686
Clark71144
Madison67864
LaPorte62328
Howard60758
Bartholomew60145
Kosciusko5824
Marshall5579
Noble52028
Boone49144
LaGrange48610
Jackson4783
Delaware47552
Hancock46836
Shelby45925
Floyd41444
Monroe34828
Morgan34531
Grant32226
Dubois3096
Montgomery29820
Henry29618
Clinton2903
White27610
Dearborn26523
Warrick26129
Vigo2588
Decatur25632
Lawrence25225
Harrison21822
Greene19632
Miami1942
Jennings17912
Putnam1738
DeKalb1694
Scott1659
Wayne1586
Daviess15117
Perry14910
Steuben1382
Orange13723
Jasper1362
Ripley1347
Franklin1288
Gibson1242
Wabash1163
Carroll1142
Starke1083
Whitley1076
Fayette1067
Newton10110
Huntington942
Jefferson872
Wells821
Randolph804
Fulton731
Jay720
Knox710
Washington681
Pulaski661
Clay645
Rush623
Posey610
Spencer571
Owen521
Benton510
Sullivan501
Adams491
Brown431
Blackford402
Fountain362
Crawford330
Switzerland320
Tipton321
Parke270
Martin260
Ohio230
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union140
Pike120
Unassigned0193