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Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219


For media inquiries only, contact:  
Charlotte Gomer, Press Secretary
Phone: (804)786-1022 
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


~ AGs from 20 states and the District of Columbia urge Federal Government to reconsider proposed rules and abrupt settlement ~ 

RICHMOND (July 30, 2018) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring today joined a coalition of 21 attorneys general urging U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to withdraw from a settlement that would allow a company to post plans online to print plastic guns using 3-D printers, writing that these actions recklessly disregard public safety.


“The federal government’s proposed rules and settlement with Defense Distributed are extremely dangerous and could have a lasting impact on public safety in our country,” said Attorney General Herring. “The Trump Administration has blatantly disregarded previous federal rulings recognizing the danger of making these weapons widely available and this unprecedented move gives anyone with a 3-D printer access to a firearm. The settlement and proposed rules would give felons, domestic abusers, and other dangerous individuals an incredibly easy workaround to skirt our laws and background checks, and could put even more cheap, untraceable firearms on our streets. We should be working to make it harder for criminals in this country to get their hands on a firearm, not easier.”


A letter sent by the state attorneys general today expresses serious concern over the federal government’s recent settlement with Defense Distributed, an online company that, in 2013, was previously instructed by the U.S. Department of State to remove downloadable files for firearms from its website.


In the settlement, the Department of State also agreed to amend federal rules regulating the export of weapons on the United States Munitions List. The proposed rules would allow information about certain military weapons such as semi-automatic firearms, previously considered critical to national security and public safety, to be uploaded to the Internet. The attorneys general argue that these actions will facilitate violations of state and federal law and create unprecedented risks to public safety, allowing terrorists, transnational criminals, convicted felons, and individuals otherwise prohibited by federal and state laws from purchasing, manufacturing, selling, and possessing firearms to have unrestricted access to computer designs for unsafe, undetectable, and untraceable firearms.


The Arms Export Control Act requires the federal government to reduce the international trade of firearms abroad, which the federal government has successfully done through the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, in part by prohibiting certain technical data about weapons from being made publicly available. Many states also have independent laws and regulations to prevent gun violence and protect public safety. In the letter, the attorneys general argue that publicly available information on 3-D printed weapons will enable the production of firearms that are untraceable and undetectable by magnetometers in places such as airports, government buildings and schools. Additionally, unrestricted access to this kind of information will increase illegal trafficking of weapons across state and national borders.


In the letter, the attorneys general also express their serious concern over the Department of State’s abrupt change in position on these matters, pointing to arguments the Department of Justice and Department of State have made for years in the challenge brought by Defense Distributed. Until very recently, the Department of State had argued that the federal government has a strong national security interest in the regulation of these types of files. The attorneys general also note that courts have previously recognized the risk of allowing these gun designs to be publicly available on the Internet, and urge the Administration not to disregard those rulings.


This multistate letter includes state attorneys general from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.