Hawaii Joins Lawsuit Against Trump Administration Over 3D-Printed Guns

Jan 24, 2020

Hawaii Attorney General Clare Connors has joined a federal lawsuit that challenges a federal rule allowing public distribution of downloadable files to make 3D-printed guns.

The Trump administration finalized the rule allowing the files to be published on the internet on Thursday.

The lawsui was filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

The Trump administration's new rule transfers oversight for the export of certain firearms, such as 3D printed guns, from the State Department to the Commerce Department.

“The proposed transfer of these ghost gun regulations to the Department of Commerce is being done without sufficient evidence or notice,” said Connors in a statement. “Turning a blind eye to unregistered, untraceable firearms that anyone can make is dangerous and places our local communities at risk.”

According to the statement, the downloadable files would allow people to print untraceable 3D firearms that are difficult to detect.

One of the Honolulu Police Department's imitatives this legislative session is banning so-called ghost guns which it defines as "a firearm that is assembled without serial numbers or other identification markings.

However, a department spokesperson explained that ghost guns and 3D-printed guns differ because ghost guns are mailed as partially completed kits while 3D-printed guns start as downloadable file that can be used with a 3D printer.

In 2015, the Texas-based tech development company Defense Distributed, sued the Obama administration after the State Department forced it to remove the files from the internet. Obama administration lawyers said posting the files online violated firearm export laws and threatened public safety.

But in 2018, Ferguson said, the Trump administration settled the case, and agreed to allow internet distribution of the 3D-gun files.

However, a multi-state lawsuit against the settlement led a federal judge last year to strike down the administration’s earlier attempt to allow the files to be distributed.

In a statement, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs R. Clarke Cooper said the new rule is designed to reduce the regulatory burden on American firearms and ammunition makers and to promote exports. Cooper said the guidelines also prioritize national security.

Attorneys general for the states are again suing the Trump administration, saying the new rule tries to avoid oversight and remove downloadable gun files from the State Department’s munitions list.

In addition to Hawaii and Washington, the states suing are California, New York, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia as well as the District of Columbia.