By Mario Ritter
31 July, 2018

President Donald Trump says he is studying whether guns made by a three-dimensional (3-D) printer should be sold in the United States.

Trump wrote on Twitter the idea "doesn't seem to make much sense!" He added that he spoke to the National Rifle Association (NRA) about the issue.

The NRA is the largest American organization representing the interests of gun owners.

Trump's comments come as eight states and the District of Columbia are taking legal action against his administration for permitting the release of the gun-printing plans. They say anyone following those step-by-step directions could use 3-D printer technology to create a gun out of plastic.

State attorneys general are the state officials who can bring cases against the federal government.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson is leading the case against the Trump administration. He said the gun-printing plans are a danger to the public.

"These downloadable guns are unregistered and very difficult to detect, even with metal detectors, and will be available to anyone regardless of age, mental health or criminal history," he said.

The eight states and the District of Columbia argue that permitting people to make their own guns violates state controls over weapons.

Officials say that 1,000 people have already downloaded the directions for plastic guns.

Seized plastic handguns which were created using 3D printing technology are displayed at Kanagawa police station in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, May 8, 2014.
Seized plastic handguns which were created using 3D printing technology are displayed at Kanagawa police station in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, May 8, 2014.

Plans for printing a gun available to the public

A Texas company created the designs. They enable anyone with a 3-D printer to make the parts of a plastic gun that would cost just a few hundred dollars.

The same directions are also at the center of legal action over whether they can be made available to the public.

The State Department had ordered a gun rights activist to stop providing the directions. State Department officials said the plans violated U.S. export laws.

The activist, Cody Wilson, argued that the ban violated his rights under the U.S. constitution. In June, the Trump administration changed its position to permit publication of some instructions.

Gun experts say plastic guns may not work without some metal parts and that they could blow up in the hands of users. They add that 3-D printing technology can be very costly.

I'm Jonathan Evans.

Kenneth Schwartz reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

three-dimensional –adj. having length, width and height

printer n. a device for making copies of a photograph or other object

detectv. to discover the presence of something

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