Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson


Federal judge found previous attempt unlawful

SEATTLE — A federal judge has granted Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s request to block the Trump Administration’s latest effort to allow 3D-printed gun files to be released on the internet. These files would allow plug-and-play access to 3D-print unregistered, untraceable firearms that can also be very difficult to detect, even with a metal detector. Untraceable firearms are sometimes called “ghost guns.”

Judge Richard Jones, a George W. Bush appointee, ordered a preliminary injunction while Ferguson’s multistate lawsuit continues in Seattle in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

In his order, Judge Jones wrote: “The Court must acknowledge the grave reality that is likely to occur without injunctive relief. As the agency’s specific findings in the record show, the proliferation of 3-D gun files on the internet likely renders ineffective arms embargoes, export controls, and other measures used to restrict the availability of uniquely dangerous weapons sought by those seeking to commit acts of terrorism or other serious crime — implicates serious national security and public interests.”

“These downloadable guns are unregistered and very difficult to detect, even with metal detectors," Ferguson said. "If the Trump Administration has its way, these ghost guns will be available to anyone regardless of age, mental health or criminal history. For the second time, we have blocked that effort in court. We will keep fighting back against this unlawful, dangerous policy as many times as it takes.”

As a result of Ferguson’s previous multistate lawsuit, a federal judge in Seattle struck down the Trump Administration’s prior attempt to allow the release of the files.

After losing in court, the Trump Administration is trying again, this time by publishing new rules that would transfer regulation of 3D-printed guns from the State Department to the Department of Commerce, effectively allowing their unlimited distribution.

In the rules, the administration acknowledges the dangers posed by the distribution of 3D-printed gun files: “Such items could be easily used in the proliferation of conventional weapons, the acquisition of destabilizing numbers of such weapons, or for acts of terrorism.”

However, due to loopholes in the Commerce regulations, the agency will lack the power to regulate 3D-printed guns in any meaningful way.

The judge’s order blocks the Trump Administration from transferring the 3D-printed gun files to Commerce and requires the State Department to continue regulating them while the multistate lawsuit continues.


The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.


Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; Brionna.aho@atg.wa.gov