A divided Ninth Circuit panel on Tuesday lifted a court order against two Trump-era rules that make it easier to share untraceable 3D-printed gun blueprints, just as the Biden administration seeks to tighten restrictions on so-called ghost guns, reports the Courthouse News Service. The appeals court ruling will lift restrictions on exporting specs for 3D-printed guns, but President Joe Biden announced in early April that the Justice Department would issue new rules for ghost guns within 30 days. The Ninth Circuit’s decision Tuesday overturned an injunction issued by a federal judge in Seattle in March 2020. U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik had blocked two rules that transferred regulatory control of 3D-printed gun files from the State Department to the Commerce Department. The rules also removed ghost gun blueprints from a State Department list of munitions that require a license to export. Additional reading: “Ghost Guns Called ‘Fastest Growing’ Safety Issue in Gun Violence.”
Twenty-two states led by Washington state sued to prevent the rule changes from taking effect. U.S. Circuit Judges Jay Bybee and Ryan Nelson concluded that courts lack authority to review the challenged rule changes. In a dissenting opinion, U.S. District Judge Robert Whaley, a Bill Clinton appointee sitting on the panel by designation from the Eastern District of Washington, argued that his colleagues misinterpreted what Congress intended when it gave the president power “to designate” what items are considered “defense articles and defense services” under the law.