NC joins lawsuit against Trump administration over 3D-printed guns

NEWS NOW: AG Josh Stein on 3D printed guns lawsuit

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein announced Wednesday that his office is joining a multi-state lawsuit against the Trump administration over its decision to allow a Texas company to post blueprints for 3D-printed guns on its website.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in Seattle and citing a public safety risk, asked a federal judge to block the administration's settlement with Defense Distributed in June that allowed the company to post the plans online, which they intended to make available on Aug. 1.

Back in 2013, the company was forced to remove the blueprints after making them available online, setting up a yearslong legal struggle against the government which resulted in the June settlement.

On Tuesday, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order preventing the publication of the documents.

During an interview on WECT's News Now, Stein explained what kind of safety risk these types of guns could pose to the public.

"These plastic guns are incredibly concerning to the public safety...somebody could manufacture a firearm in their home that is undetectable by metal detectors, has no serial number, could be used in the commission of a crime and law enforcement would have no way to use the weapon or the ballistics in order to protect the public," Stein explained.

"They're illegal, currently, but what we don't want is to make it easy for people to engage in illegal acts and that's why we went to court and succeeded."

However, prior to the judge's decision, CNN reported that hundreds of the designs were downloaded from the company's website before they were taken down in compliance with the judge's order.

Now that some of those plans are out there, Stein likens it to a genie getting out of the bottle.

"It is a bit of an issue of a genie getting out of the bottle. A bit of the genie did get out of the bottle. But what we're trying to do is put the cork back in before the whole thing gets out," Stein explained. "If [the company] puts it up on the internet and it's out there for days, weeks, months at a time, then yes, at a certain point you're fighting a losing battle, but we're not there yet.

"Some of these gun designs can be found on the dark web and that's troublesome. But just because there are some bad things out there doesn't mean you don't try and stop it from getting substantially worse."

Copyright 2018 WECT. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.