A US court halted release of blueprints for 3D-printed guns just hours before a company was scheduled to make them available online. The plans for undetectable plastic arms could cause "irreparable harm," the judge said.
The release of blueprints for 3D-printed weapons was temporarily blocked on Tuesday, with Seattle-based judge Robert Lasnik ruling against their publication by company Defense Distributed. The firm's designs would allow owners of 3D-printers to create their own plastic firearms.
"There is a possibility of irreparable harm because of the way these guns can be made," Judge Lasnik said ahead of the plans' scheduled nationwide release on Wednesday.
Previously, Attorneys General in eight Democrat-ruled US states sued the Donald Trump administration over a June settlement with Defense Distributed. The settlement allowed the company to distribute its blueprints online.
"I have a question for the Trump Administration: Why are you allowing dangerous criminals easy access to weapons?" Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, a Democrat, said in a statement.
"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."
Commenting on the Tuesday ruling, Ferguson called it "a complete, total victory."
Read more: The world's first 3D printed motorcycle
Trump: the issue 'doesn't seem to make much sense!'
Earlier on Tuesday, Trump himself commented on the issue on Twitter.
"I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to NRA, doesn't seem to make much sense!" Trump said, without specifying which part of the argument he was referring to.
Some experts have sought to downplay the fears of 3D-printed weapons, emphasizing that 3D printers are expensive and weapons produced in them quickly disintegrate if used. Others point out that plastic weapons could act as "ghost" guns which would be virtually impossible to detect and trace.
Defense Distributed founder, Cody Wilson, first published downloadable designs for a 3D-printed firearm in 2013. The plans were downloaded about 100,000 times until the US State Department blocked them, claiming the distribution beyond US borders violated laws on weapons exports.
dj/aw (AP, Reuters, dpa)