President Donald Trump on Tuesday raised concerns about the sale of plastic guns made with 3-D printers, a day after several USA states sued the Trump administration to block the online publication of designs for such printable weapons.
"I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to NRA, doesn't seem to make much sense!" he tweeted. He did not offer further details.
The suit, filed Monday in Seattle, asks a judge to block the federal government's late June settlement with Defence Distributed that allowed the company to make the plans available online.
In the lawsuit filed Monday, the attorneys general claimed that this "temporary modification" violates the Administrative Procedure Act because, the states claim, "there is no indication in the Settlement Agreement (or elsewhere) that any analysis, study or determination was made by the Government Defendants, in consultation with other agencies, before the Government agreed to remove" the files from Category I of the US munitions list.
The State Department had already been sent a letter asking it to reinstate its ban, by 21 other attorney generals, from states including California, Massachusetts, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
The letter argued the plans will let terrorists, criminals and individuals seeking to do harm have "unfettered access to print and manufacture risky firearms".
In a statement, Mr Ferguson said: "These downloadable guns are unregistered and very hard to detect, even with metal detectors, and will be available to anyone regardless of age, mental health or criminal history".
There followed a four-year legal battle, with Defense Distributed joining forces with the Second Amendment Foundation - which defends the right to own guns - to sue the State Department.
The company's lawyer, Josh Blackman, called it an "easy case".
States are free to enact gun control measures, but 'what they can't do is censor the speech of another citizen in another state, and they can't regulate the commerce of another citizen in another state when that commerce is authorized by a federal government license, ' Blackman said in an interview Monday.
But gun industry experts have expressed doubt that criminals would go to the trouble, since the printers needed to make the guns are very expensive, the guns themselves tend to disintegrate quickly and traditional firearms are easy to come by.
The company's website says it will relaunch today after the settlement with the State Department.
Meanwhile, a State Department spokesperson said Tuesday that the department has "completed the actions that were required under the settlement agreement in the Defense Distributed litigation". They also say such guns are still subject to federal laws, such as a requirement that all guns contain metal parts, and state laws that require serial numbers.
But, months later, in an apparent change in tune, the Trump administration chose to remove the "technical data" for the 3-D gun blueprints from its list of USA munitions as part of the June settlement agreement with Defense Distributed, meaning it was free to go forward.
Defense Distributed is a Texas-based company founded by self-declared anarchist and former law school student Cody Wilson in 2012 as an online, open-source organization developing digital firearm files.
It led the US State Department to order them to be removed from the internet. The files were published on Friday. The company said it has also blocked access to users in New Jersey and Los Angeles.