Judge issues temporary restraining order on 3D-gun blueprints

NEW YORK -- The age of the 3D-printed gun will have to wait at least another month, after a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order preventing a Texas company from releasing blueprints on their website Wednesday morning.

But it may not solve the problem of so-called ghost guns getting into the hands of firearm enthusiasts in certain states.

"We got two big wins yesterday for safety with respect to the safety of New Jersey residents and with respect to the safety of our law enforcement officers," New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said during a press conference Wednesday.

He was celebrating a temporary restraining order by a federal court preventing the company Defense Distributed from posting downloadable codes to 3D-print guns on its website.

"Codes that at a click of a button would have enabled anyone, including terrorists, including criminals, including domestic abusers, including juveniles to print guns using a 3D printer," he said.

While gun ownership is protected under the Second Amendment, Lata Nott, executive director of the First Amendment Center at the Freedom Institute, said the case may ultimately come down to whether or not the code to print a gun is considered speech.

"The argument can go either way because you can say that code is speech, in a sense that a recipe is speech," Nott said. "Even though you have to put things to create something it's still an expression, it's a communication. The other way that you can look at is that code is not speech because it's a functional thing that you're creating."

The Supreme Court has yet to tackle the case, but lower courts previously struck down the freedom of speech argument.

Defense Distributed was allowed only to post the plans after reaching a settlement with the Trump administration.

More than 20 states fired back, suing the administration and claiming the decision violated states' rights to create gun control laws, which is protected under the 10th Amendment.

"These guns which have no serial numbers and are not traceable by law enforcement are dangerous," Grewal said. "There's really no other way to characterize them."

But preventing plans for 3D printing guns from getting out doesn't solve the problem of serial-number-free guns in many states.

A loophole in New York state gun laws allows people to purchase kits where the guns come disassembled. By law, it's not considered a gun until someone puts the parts together. Videos on YouTube make it simple enough for any DIY enthusiast.

New Jersey changed its laws to stop the ghost guns from being sold in the state. Now, New York Sen. Brad Hoylman has a bill on the table that would do the same in New York.

"They're not regulated and that's the biggest problem is that they totally circumvent New York's tough gun laws because you can download or assemble an assault weapon at home, so what's the use of our tough gun laws?" Hoylman said.