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Massachusetts AG Healey sues Trump Administration over 3D-printed guns



BOSTON – Attorney General Maura Healey Friday joined a coalition of attorneys general in suing the Trump Administration over proposed rules that would deregulate 3D-printed guns.

The complaint, filed today in the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Washington against the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Commerce, challenges new rules that would allow individuals and companies to post and transfer files online that provide blueprints on how to print guns using 3D printers.

“These new rules pose a serious threat to public safety and violate the law,” said AG Healey. “We need to stop the federal government from allowing access to online plans that will let anyone anonymously build their own downloadable, untraceable, and undetectable guns.”

According to the complaint, new rules submitted to Congress by the Administration would remove 3D-printed gun files from the U.S. Munitions List and transfer oversight over the export of 3D-printed gun files to the Commerce Department, which lacks the jurisdiction necessary to ensure that these files cannot be disseminated widely by email, electronic file transfer, hard drive transfer, or other means. The attorneys general also argue that under the rules, the Commerce Department would have discretion to grant licenses to post 3D-printed gun files to the internet or export them without Congressional oversight, effectively undermining rules regulating the export of weapons on the U.S. Munitions List.

In July 2018, AG Healey joined a multistate lawsuit against the State Department seeking to stop a settlement and a modification to the Munitions List that would allow the company Defense Distributed to post files online that allow individuals to print guns using 3D printers. The states won a preliminary injunction in August 2018 from a federal judge blocking the publication of downloadable plans for 3D-printed guns online, and obtained a summary judgment in November 2019 invalidating the State Department’s change to the Munitions List. The judge in that case ruled the State Department failed to properly notify Congress, as required by statute, failed to consider required statutory factors, and failed to explain why it had changed position on the threats posed by 3D-printed guns.

Today’s lawsuit challenges the new proposed rules on similar grounds as the previous lawsuit, arguing that the Administration failed to adequately inform the public that the new rules would deregulate 3D-printed gun files and failed to explain its abrupt change in position on these matters. Until recently, the State Department had argued that the federal government has a strong national security interest in the regulation of these types of files.

AG Healey, along with partners in state law enforcement, has issued a public safety notice detailing the serious violations of state law arising from the creation of these undetectable guns.

Friday’s coalition is led by the Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and joined by California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, and the District of Columbia.

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