Washington, DC

By Criminal Defense Attorney Seth Okin of Price Benowitz LLP

A decision by a U.S. District Judge has led the company that pioneered the 3-D printable, single-use handgun to begin distributing plans for those weapons to “paying customers” under a pay-what-you-want offering of the plans.

The company, known as Defense Distributed, claims to have already received 400 orders for the plans, which for the time being will be mailed to purchasers on USB thumb drives.

Earlier in August, it was revealed that the U.S. State Department had settled a lawsuit with the company that would have allowed the company to offer the plans on its website for download, free of charge.

However, lawsuits filed by numerous state attorney generals and gun control advocacy groups led to the issuance of an injunction by the district judge, which halted Defense Distributed’s posting of the plans online. It did, however, allow for other types of transmission — leading to the company’s decision to offer plans for sale.

“The State of Maryland is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit in question, which is not surprising considering the state’s approach to guns and gun crimes,” said Seth Okin, a Maryland Gun Crimes Attorney with the law firm of Price Benowitz, LLP.

Gun crimes in Maryland are taken very seriously, and there are many laws regulating their use and possession. The new frontier of 3-D printed weapons, however, opens up the possibility that any individual, regardless of age, motivation, criminal history or mental health issues, with access to a 3-D printer will be able to obtain a handgun without subjecting themselves to Maryland’s laws on handgun purchases.

Individuals who possess these firearms without the proper documentation will undoubtedly face prosecution under the laws that prohibit ownership of handguns without a permit.

However, because 3-D printed weapons do not have serial numbers, it will be nearly impossible to trace the handgun to the source issuer, if the person in possession obtained it from someone else.

The dangers of 3-D printed handguns are apparent, as they create an unregulated access point for individuals who would otherwise be denied the right to possess handguns. It does not mean, however, that you cannot be prosecuted for unlawful possession of one of these weapons.

If you have downloaded plans for printing one of these weapons and intend to do so, contact a Maryland Gun Crimes Attorney to be sure that you do avoid creating legal jeopardy for yourself.

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