'3-D Printed' Firearms Become Legal in Texas This Week

A new era in gun rights starts this week, thanks to a high tech Texas-based company that has won their legal fight with the U.S. State Department, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.

Austin-based Defense Distributed has come up with a way to use a 3D printer to print a working AR-15 assault weapon.  That means anybody with access to the technology, which is becoming cheaper by the day, can make a weapon, even if they're prohibited by the government from owning one, due to legal issues. 

Those blueprints will be available for download on August 1st, according to the court order.  

WOAI news reached out to both the company's owner and his lawyer.  The owner did not respond and the lawyer refused to comment for the story.

University of Texas professor Sanford Levinson, who is an expert on the Second Amendment, says this is fraught with problems.

"Criminals will find this a very, very useful way of getting... not very useful guns... but a working gun none the less," he says.

In tests, guns made from 3d printers have worked once or twice before they became damaged enough that they did not work.  Levinson says that's enough to strike fear into a victim.

Blueprints were originally taken off the Internet thanks to an objection by the State Department, but a lawsuit by the Second Amendment Foundation was settled.

Founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb say the government has agreed to waive its prior restraint, allowing them to freely publish the files.  They also expressly acknowledged that non-automatic firearms up to .50-caliber - including modern semi-auto non sporting rifles such as the popular AR-15 and similar firearms - are not inherently military.

"Not only is this a First Amendment victory for free speech, it also is a devastating blow to the gun prohibition lobby.  For years, anti-gunners have contended that modern semi-automatic sport-utility rifles are so-called ‘weapons of war,’ and with this settlement, the government has acknowledged they are nothing of the sort."

Levinson says if the lawsuit had been decided in a court rather than a settlement, he thinks it would have gone a different way.

"I don’t think the First Amendment arguments are untimely winning arguments," he says. "I don’t think we would allow people to put up a handy-dandy formula for manufacturing deadly nerve gas."

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