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Austin-Based Company Says It Will Send 3D-Printable Gun Files Directly To Customers

Cody Wilson, the founder of Defense Distributed, said he received 400 orders for the blueprints for 3D-printable guns during a news conference Tuesday. (Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT)

The Austin-based company at the center of a lawsuit over 3D-printable guns will send plans directly to customers, its founder said Tuesday, a day after a federal judge blocked the State Department from letting the company publish the files online for free.

By Matt Largey, KUT News

Defense Distributed and its founder, Cody Wilson, have been trying to put the designs on the internet for years. At first, the State Department blocked their publication, citing international arms export rules. But earlier this year, the government settled with Wilson, carving out an exception to those rules.

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia sued, saying the publication would put residents at risk from the untraceable, DIY guns.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik in Seattle issued a temporary injunction, putting a hold on the State Department’s settlement with Defense Distributed.

“3D-printed guns represent a supreme threat to our safety and security, and we are grateful that Judge Lasnik recognized it as such,” Avery Gardiner, co-president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said after the order. "But we also recognize that the menace does not end here. Already, there have been a wave of dangerous actors seeking to illegally post the blueprints online. We are committed to doing everything in our power to prevent this threat from continuing further.”

In his order, Lasnik said federal regulations mean "the files cannot be uploaded to the internet, but they can be emailed, mailed, securely transmitted, or otherwise published within the United States.”

Now, Wilson is doing just that.

At a news conference Tuesday, Wilson said his company will mail USB drives to customers, who can pay whatever they want. By the end of the event, Wilson said he’d already gotten more than 400 orders.

He also suggested Defense Distributed may send the files through email or secure transfer online.

Wilson has framed the issue in terms of the First Amendment. He argues he has a right to post the files because they are speech. Ultimately, he says, he sees the legal battle over the 3D-printable designs as good for his business and good for his cause.

“There are many, many people who will have to take an interest in this — for or against — but [who] wouldn’t have otherwise even cared about it if it wasn’t being opposed,” he said.

Carlos Morales is Marfa Public Radio's News Director.