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Nessel joins lawsuit challenging Trump admin effort to allow 3D-printed guns

By: - January 27, 2020 4:03 pm

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has joined a lawsuit seeking to prevent the President Trump administration’s newest attempt to allow access to blueprints for 3D-printed guns.

The downloadable files would essentially allow anyone with an Internet connection to be able to print their own unregistered, untraceable firearm with a 3D printer. These are sometimes referred to as “ghost guns.”

Attorney General Dana Nessel | Susan J. Demas

Nessel joins attorneys general from 19 other states and the District of Columbia in bringing the lawsuit, which was filed Thursday in Seattle’s U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

“Allowing instructions for building unregistered and untraceable weapons on the internet is reckless,” Nessel said in a press release. “If access to these so-called ‘ghost guns’ becomes available to essentially anyone with a computer, the U.S. risks opening itself up to the possibility of wide-scale harm.

“We must act sensibly and responsibly, and that means opposing this administration’s illogical attempt to subject Michigan residents and other Americans to the wills of terrorists and extremists.”

This is not the first time the Trump administration has made an attempt to release the downloadable files for public use. As part of a June 2018 lawsuit, they agreed to allow unlimited public distribution of the files; a month later, a multi-state coalition filed their own suit against the administration. 

Nessel joins nationwide AGs in environment, gun control, health care efforts

A federal judge ruled this November that the administration had violated federal law and struck down the effort.  Now, the administration is making another attempt: This time, by publishing new rules to transfer 3D-printed gun regulation from the U.S. State Department to the Department of Commerce.

The 21-state lawsuit now challenging this move, which Nessel has signed onto, argues that the rule is unlawful because the administration has violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) in failing to provide meaningful public notice of the rule and failing to offer beneficial evidence behind allowing such unfettered access to printable firearms.

The lawsuit also alleges that loopholes in the Department of Commerce regulations make the agency unable to regulate 3D-printed guns in any meaningful way.

Others participating in the lawsuit include: Washington, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont and the District of Columbia.

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, Native issues and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service.