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Texan behind 3D-printed gun designs vows to fight US court ban

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Washington (AFP)

A US gun rights advocate is vowing to take his fight to publish online blueprints for 3D-printed firearms to the Supreme Court if necessary, after a federal judge temporarily blocked the controversial venture.

Cody Wilson, founder of the company Defense Distributed, had briefly made the blueprints available online Tuesday after a much-questioned settlement with the federal government.

But a judge in Seattle granted an injunction after eight US states and the District of Columbia argued that the blueprints could allow anyone -- from a teen to a 'lone wolf' gunman -- to make untraceable, undetectable plastic weapons.

Wilson told CBS News he believes "access to firearms is a fundamental human dignity. It's a fundamental human right."

"What I'm doing is legally protected," he said in an interview hours before the injunction was handed down by US District Judge Robert Lasnik.

"I will go to the appellate level. I will go to the Supreme Court. I will waste all my time," Wilson said.

- 'The debate is over' -

The states had acted to block publication of the blueprints after the Trump administration settled a five-year legal fight by permitting the company to publish the plans on its website Defcad.

The website was shut down by Wednesday, but blueprints that had been posted online before the court order took effect had already been downloaded thousands of times.

"The debate is over. The guns are downloadable. The files are in the public domain -- you cannot take them back," Wilson told CBS.

But gun control groups applauded the judge's decision, with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence calling 3D-printed firearms "nothing short of a menace to society."

"There is simply no way of telling how much damage has already been done by Cody Wilson's dangerous and reckless actions," Brady Campaign co-president Kris Brown said in a statement.

"This is a strong step and a clear victory for the entire gun safety movement, but we simply can't let up."

- Action on the Hill -

Late Tuesday, dozens of Democratic senators introduced legislation designed to block the publication of 3D-printable firearm blueprints, a move gun control groups also applauded.

But the National Rifle Association, the nation's most politically influential gun rights group, claimed undetectable plastic weapons were already illegal under a 1988 law and therefore the issue was moot.

"Regardless of what a person may be able to publish on the Internet, undetectable plastic guns have been illegal for 30 years," the NRA said in a statement.

A White House spokesman made a similar case Tuesday, even as the president tweeted earlier in the day that the idea of "3D plastic guns" being available to the public "doesn't seem to make much sense."

But Wilson has gotten around the legal prohibition against plastic guns by providing instructions with the digital files for 3D printing his "Liberator" plastic gun that call for an approximately six-ounce block of steel to be affixed to the weapon.

Should those who print the gun follow those instructions, metal detectors would pick up the weapons, thus complying with the law.

But while users can build the gun, there is no way to ensure they affix metal to it.

Prior to the Trump administration granting Defcad permission to publish, Wilson had actually been losing his drawn-out legal battle, after both a federal district court and an appellate court ruled against him.

The US Supreme Court had declined to take up his case.

But in a sign of his determination to continue the legal fight, a message on the Defense Distributed website made a public appeal for financial support "to uncensor the site."

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