Nine states and the District of Columbia have filed suit to block the pro-gun group Defense Distributed from distributing files online for making firearms with 3-D printers, reports the Wall Street Journal. A recent settlement between the group and the State Department that allowed the files to be posted has brought criticism from gun-control groups and Democratic lawmakers. They say it will allow people to avoid background checks by using 3-D printers to make their own guns at home. “These downloadable guns are unregistered and very difficult to detect, even with metal detectors, and will be available to anyone regardless of age, mental health or criminal history,” said Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who filed the suit.
Cody Wilson, who runs Defense Distributed, said the group will fight the suit. Some firearms experts played down the danger of these guns because they said most 3-D printers use materials that aren’t strong enough to produce a reliable firearm. “You can 3-D print a pistol that will fire a few rounds through the barrel—after that it’ll just break,” said Rick Vasquez, a former Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives official. Criminals are likely to buy a more reliable gun on the black market or build one from sturdier parts, he said. David Chipman, a retired ATF agent and policy adviser at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, fears the technology will quickly improve, making 3D-printed guns more lethal. “We don’t want this horse to leave the barn and then have put it back in,” he said.