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Pennsylvania reaches deal to halt distribution of 3D gun-printing materials

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A company that publishes online instructions for using a 3D printer to make guns agreed Sunday to make the guides temporarily inaccessible in Pennsylvania, according to state Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office.

Shapiro, along with Gov. Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania State Police, sued Texas-based Defense Distributed after the company resumed publishing the instructions Friday, according to the release. The company resumed publishing the instructions after the U.S. State Department settled a five-year-old case that had prevented it.

By providing the instructions, the company would be helping Pennsylvanians circumvent state laws requiring gun-buyers to be at least 18 years old, pass background checks and obtain licenses and permits for some weapons, according to the lawsuit. Metal detectors wouldn’t pick up the weapons, according to the suit.

“The harm to Pennsylvanians would have been immediate and irreversible,” Shapiro said in a statement. “Defense Distributed was promising to distribute guns in Pennsylvania in reckless disregard of the state laws that apply to gun sales and purchases in our Commonwealth.”

Neither the company nor its owner, Cody Wilson, responded to requests for comment Monday.

The news release didn’t say how long the agreement, which was reached in a Sunday emergency hearing in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, would last. Shapiro and the other plaintiffs will seek longer-lasting protections in the form of preliminary and permanent injunctions, according to the release.

“We’re hoping to go back into court and get something more permanent,” the acting state police commissioner, Lt. Col. Robert Evanchick, said Monday.

Evanchick said state officials remain concerned about enabling people to download instructions to make a wide range of working guns, including AR-15s, without being subjected to federal or state background check systems for gun sales and bypassing licensed firearm dealers. He said authorities want to keep firearms out of the hands of people who legally should not have them.

“Basically, these 3D guns would enable people to construct these firearms in their garages. It’s my understanding that these guns wouldn’t even carry any serial numbers,” Evanchick said in a brief interview at a Cabinet in Your Community event at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg.

According to the lawsuit, anyone can become a member of Defense Distributed for a nominal fee. When you sign up, you are only required to pick a username, password and supply an email — you are not asked for proof of age, a valid gun license or a permit-to-carry number. The company promises that by joining, members “do more than protect the Second Amendment. They fund its direct, material expansion,” according to the lawsuit.

Wes Venteicher and Paul Peirce are Tribune-Review staff writers. You can contact Wes at 412-380-5676, [email protected] or via Twitter @wesventeicher. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, [email protected] or via Twitter @ppeirce_trib .

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