Defense Distributed was represented by attorney Alan Gura and had local attorneys and other aides from attorneys Josh Blackman, Matthew Goldstein and the law firm of Fish & Richardson, P.C. In August 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas dismissed Defense Distributed`s application for an injunction.  In September 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit also ruled against the application and subsequently rejected a request for a new bench hearing.  Defense Distributed appealed this decision to the Supreme Court in August 2017, which refused to hear the case on January 8, 2018.  But 3D printed weapons can be dangerous to use and are prone to failure, according to gun experts. Law enforcement officials say commercially manufactured firearms can be easily purchased without going through background checks through private sales on the so-called gray market. The widespread availability of 3D printable weapon models has been sensationalized in the press for some time. In a single example of this, which took place in October 2019, widespread media coverage of a synagogue attack in Germany reported that the shooter in charge was carrying a 3D printed weapon, but later it became known that these were only additively manufactured non-critical parts. “This case should send a message to prohibited people who are considering acquiring firearms by any method: this office strives to keep guns out of the hands of those who violate domestic violence protection orders, regardless of how their weapons are obtained – through theft, purchase or 3D printing,” said Nealy Cox. In 2019, after Grewal filed an injunction to prevent Defense Distributed from disclosing files to New Jersey residents, the company filed a counterclaim. It is claimed that the plan files are a form of speech and that Grewal`s efforts to block his release violate the First Amendment.
The case has not yet been brought before the courts. New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal is a plaintiff in this case. “If a company like Defense Distributed can easily sell [printable gun plans] to its customers without doing the usual necessary background checks to make sure someone is not a criminal, it would blow up the entire gun law regime that we have in this country,” he said. “When he realized he couldn`t legally buy a gun, Eric McGinnis circumvented our gun laws by 3D printing his gun, eliminating the need for a background check,” Erin Nealy Cox, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, told ABC News in a statement. Changes to the way 3D printed gun specifications are regulated were first proposed in May 2018, about two months after the Trump administration agreed to settle a lawsuit with a private company that distributes plans for so-called ghost guns. Under the terms of the deal, the Trump administration agreed to remove the specifications for 3D-printed weapons from the State Department`s list of regulated ammunition. The Appeals Court`s decision will lift restrictions on the export of specifications for 3D printed weapons, but President Joe Biden announced in early April that the Justice Department would release new rules on ghost guns within 30 days. The case was filed in 2015, two years after Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed were banned from sharing files from the first 3D-printed weapon, Liberator, over the internet.   In May 2013, Wilson was a law student at the University of Texas and published the Liberator plans on his organization`s website when the Obama administration imposed export controls on the files under ITAR and ordered Wilson and Defense Distributed to remove them from public availability. There is no good data on the number of 3D printed firearms that have surfaced at crime scenes, although attorneys general who oppose the technology insist that some have been recovered.
On some occasions, crimes involving weapons have made headlines. In February 2019, police arrested a Texas man after he was found in the woods testing a 3D printed gun. He was banned from buying guns, and he had a list of legislators on him. The Appeals Court`s decision relaxes regulations on sharing files of untraceable 3D printed firearms, but the Biden administration is expected to propose new restrictions on so-called phantom guns by May 8. Correction: An earlier version of this article highlighted a case in which Rhode Island police said a suspect used a 3D printed firearm in a murder. While police initially made this claim, an analysis by the state`s criminal laboratory later decided that the method of manufacture was “indefinite.” The story has also been updated to show that Defense Distributed`s “Liberator” weapon model includes a small metal component for federal compliance. Whaley wrote that a 1981 amendment to the law “clarified that the president`s power to remove was separate from his power of appointment and was subject to congressional oversight.” He stated that the majority does not take into account a legal principle that assumes that all words omitted from a law should be considered intentionally excluded from the law. In 2019, the Trump administration transferred oversight of arms exports from the State Department to the Commerce Department, which would have removed restrictions on the publication of 3D printed weapons plans. But a second lawsuit filed by the Coalition of Attorneys General retained oversight of the cases at the State Department until future litigation is pending.
However, at the request of the 3D printing industry, Youtuber Sean Aranda (aka 3D Print General), Erich Pratt, senior vice president of Gunowners of America, and Michael Weinberg, executive director of the Engelberg Center on Innovation Law and Policy at NYU School of Law, stressed that this doesn`t have to be the case. The legality of sharing the files needed to print weapons and weapon components is darker ground. There is no federal law prohibiting this practice. But in 2013, the State Department ruled that posting plans online violated gun export laws. In 2018, after a lengthy court battle with Defense Distributed over the guidelines, the State Department agreed and agreed to approve the release of the records.