Washington, D.C., December 19, 2018 - Today, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence filed a lawsuit against the United States Department of State to force it to produce documents regarding its inexplicable, sudden decision to allow blueprints for 3-D printed guns to be uploaded and widely disseminated on the internet. The State Department has not produced a single document in response to the Brady Center’s Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request seeking the documents, filed over five months ago. The Brady Center earlier sued to stop the Trump Administration’s settlement of a lawsuit brought by Defense Distributed, which would enable anyone to print untraceable and undetectable guns at home. The Brady Center’s FOIA complaint against the State Department, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, can be found here.
For years, in ongoing litigation against Defense Distributed, the State Department successfully argued that the publication of such blueprints was a national security risk that would put untraceable and undetectable guns in the hands of terrorists and other dangerous people with nefarious intentions. Earlier this year, however, the State Department suddenly reversed course and reached a settlement that allowed for the publication of 3-D gun blueprints and even paid Defense Distributed’s attorney’s fees. Within days of learning of the settlement, the Brady Center filed a FOIA request on July 16, 2018 seeking documents that would shed light on the State Department’s shocking about-face. Despite recognizing the urgency of the Brady Center’s FOIA request and agreeing to expedite its processing, the State Department has not produced a single responsive document.
"The Trump Administration must explain to the public why it chose to reverse longstanding State Department policy opposing publication of blueprints, and decide to allow terrorists and other dangerous people to make undetectable, untraceable guns with 3-D printers in complete anonymity," said Kris Brown (she), President of Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence. "Instead of making it infinitely easier for the wrong people to get their hands on guns, it’s the government’s responsibility to prevent the inevitable threats to its citizens posed by weapons that can pass through metal detectors in airports, schools, and other public places."
“The State Department consistently argued that such untraceable and undetectable 3-D printed guns were a national security risk, and it prevailed on this argument at each step of the litigation against Defense Distributed,” said Brady Center attorney Joshua Scharff. “In April, the State Department again raised these national security concerns under oath to a federal court. Citizens have the right to know why the State Department suddenly abandoned its winning position. We do not know what the State Department is hiding, but we intend to find out.”
Blank Rome LLP represents The Brady Center in the lawsuit.
The Brady Center has been leading the fight against 3-D printed guns for years. In 2016, the Brady Center filed an amicus brief in Defense Distributed’s lawsuit against the State Department, and the Brady Campaign sought to intervene in the case in July 2018 after the State Department abandoned its litigation position. The Brady Campaign also filed an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit subsequently filed by a bipartisan group of state Attorneys General from throughout the nation, arguing that the Second Amendment does not grant Defense Distributed the right to publish the blueprints, nor does it protect the right to create or own 3D-printed guns. A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction in that case preventing Defense Distributed from publishing its blueprints online.
Jonathan Lowy and Joshua Scharff of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and Jon Waldron, Stefanos Roulakis, and Ariel Glasner of Blank Rome LLP are leading the case.
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence is dedicated to reducing gun injuries and deaths in America by stemming all of the causes of gun violence. For more than 25 years, the Brady Center’s legal team has fought in and out of the courts to obtain justice for victims of gun violence, to reform dangerous industry practices, and to defend reasonable gun violence prevention laws.
Blank Rome is an Am Law 100 firm with 13 offices and more than 600 attorneys and principals who provide legal and advocacy services to clients operating in the United States and around the world. For more information, please visit blankrome.com.
Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.