Readers React

Each week, the Observer-Reporter asks Facebook friends to respond to a question about an issue in the news. This week, we asked: “More states – Pennsylvania included – are suing the Trump administration to stop online plans for 3D-printed guns. What are your thoughts about the move to block posting plans to create the printable plastic weapons?”

Suzanne Henault: The thought of plastic guns scares me to death. I’m all for legally possessing firearms (emphasis on legally), but these weapons could be possessed by anyone, especially those with criminal backgrounds. No checks and balances. I’d probably never get on a plane again.

Brenda Neckerman: You don’t think criminals have HUGE and easy access to any gun they want? And believe me, they aren’t legal. Besides, the heat from firing a bullet or two would make this gun malfunction. A criminal would probably rather wave a magic wand than point one of these at someone.

Kenny McGowan: It’s silly paranoia. First of all, you can’t print a truly functional gun completely out of plastic. Secondly, a 3D printer costs more than a cheap pistol, and requires a computer and some technical knowledge to operate. You can already build a gun out of commonly available hardware store parts using basic tools, yet it almost never happens, because it’s vastly easier to acquire a “real” ( manufactured) gun.

Vernon Scott Smitley Jr.: i’d prefer to own a real gun, something like a Smith & Wesson .357.These look like someone went dumpster diving for plastic and glued it together.

Brandon Pettit: Making it illegal or stopping the plans from going online will do what? Someone already figured out how to do it; making things illegal doesn’t stop people from doing it.

Merl Williams: With 3D printers, getting a gun could be as easy as downloading it. A person could find a schematic for a firearm online, plug it into a 3D printer with the right materials, and boom – a gun is created on the spot. No background check required, no serial number to trace the gun if it’s used in a crime.

Some policymakers, however, are trying to prevent 3D-printed guns from going mainstream. On Tuesday, they landed a big victory: U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik in Seattle issued a restraining order that effectively halted a company’s plans to release 3D-printed gun designs online, arguing, “There is a possibility of irreparable harm because of the way these guns can be made.”

The order followed President Donald Trump’s comments raising concerns about 3D-printed guns. Trump had tweeted on Tuesday morning, “I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!”

The wide release of the 3D-printed gun blueprints, however, has only become an issue now in large part due to the Trump administration.

The previous administration, under President Barack Obama, had forced libertarian Cody Wilson to stop publishing these blueprints on his website, Defcad.com. Wilson sued the administration in hopes of republishing his schematics. The case seemed like an easy win for the government, with multiple courts initially ruling in the government’s favor.

But once the Trump administration came in, with its gun-friendly politics, the Justice Department abruptly agreed to a settlement – giving Wilson and his nonprofit, Defense Distributed, “essentially everything they wanted,” Andy Greenberg reported for Wired. The deal allowed Wilson to publish his blueprints starting in August, and paid him $40,000 for his legal costs.

A court, however, put Wilson’s plans on hold.

Mark Livesay: People have been able to 3D Print guns for over a decade!

Submit your question for our weekly Reader React Poll Question here.

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