They’re called ghost guns, and the technology needed to make them — a 3D printer and access to the internet — is so widely available, officials are trying lawsuits and even new law to stop a company from publishing the schematics to make them.
The company is Defense Distributed. They’ve been cleared on the federal level to start publishing files on Aug. 1 that will make it possible for you to print the pieces to assemble a workable firearm, including assault-style rifles, for as little as $500.
Last week, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal sent a cease and desist letter to the Texas-based company.
“I demand that you halt publication of the printable-gun computer files,” says the letter. “Should you fail to comply with this letter, my Office will initiate legal action barring you from publishing these files before August 1, 2018.”
Defense Distributed has filed suit against Grewal on first amendment grounds.
“If the attorney general sent you a letter telling you not to post a picture on the internet, or not to send a message on the internet, you would say that violates your free speech rights. That’s precisely what’s going on with Defense Distributed. They post the information on the internet, which the U.S. government has licensed them to post to the internet, and a single state does not have the power to censor the speech of a citizen of another state or regulate the commerce of another state, especially when that commerce is licensed by the federal government,” said Josh Blackman, the company’s attorney.
Tuesday, Grewal fired back in Essex County Superior Court, seeking a temporary restraining order against Defense Distributed.
Blackman says blueprints for guns like these have been floating around the web for a decade. Congressman Frank Pallone says they’re a danger because they’re untraceable and anybody – criminals, the mentally ill, even terrorists – can get them.
“You produce it in your backroom. It’s undetectable and you proceed to go out and kill people. It’s just, it’s the worst possible situation, frankly,” Pallone said.
To be clear, these guns are made of a plastic resin, and as such, are not especially durable, lasting just a couple of shots before they literally fall apart. But gun control advocates say the files make state law moot, and it only takes one bullet to kill.