WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House said Wednesday that the Justice Department did not consult President Donald Trump when it dropped litigation that would have prevented the posting of instructions on how to make 3D-printed plastic guns, which are illegal to own or assemble.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the Justice Department “made a deal without the president’s approval.” President Donald Trump has questioned whether his administration should have agreed to allow the plans to be posted online.
The internal rift came after a federal judge in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday to stop the release of blueprints to make the untraceable and undetectable 3D-printed plastic guns. The company behind the plans, Austin, Texas-based Defense Distributed, had reached a settlement with the federal government in June allowing it to make the plans for the guns available for download on Wednesday.
Sanders said the president was “glad this effort was delayed” so he can review the material. Sanders added that the administration supports the long-standing law against owning plastic guns.
The Justice Department’s initial action triggered an onslaught of criticism about the possible proliferation of potentially lethal 3D-printed weapons.
Eight Democratic attorneys general had filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to block the settlement. They also sought the restraining order, arguing the 3D guns would be a safety risk. Congressional Democrats have urged President Donald Trump to reverse the decision to publish the plans.
The PBS NewsHour’s John Yang gets an update on 3D gun printing.
Trump tweeted Tuesday that he was “looking into” the idea and said making 3D plastic guns available to the public “doesn’t seem to make much sense!”
Trump tweeted that he had spoken with the National Rifle Association about the downloadable directions a Texas company wants to provide for people to make 3D-printed guns. The guns are made of a hard plastic and are simple to assemble, easy to conceal and difficult to trace.
People can use the blueprints to manufacture plastic guns using a 3D printer. But industry experts have expressed doubts that criminals would go to the trouble, since the printers needed to make the guns can cost thousands of dollars, the guns themselves tend to disintegrate quickly and traditional firearms are easy to come by.
Associated Press writer Matthew Daly in Washington contributed to this report.