Following a legal settlement with the United States government, “The Liberator,” a so-called ghost gun that could be 3D printed from home, was due to be legally released to the public at midnight today. However, with only a few hours left, (and while I was in the middle of making today’s comic) a federal judge in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order on the downloadable blueprints stating, “there is a possibility of irreparable harm because of the way these guns can be made.” (It’s worth noting that the schematics in panel three are not digital CAD files that a 3D printer could use to create anything.)

It’s an issue that obviously needs more study into the implication of how this plays into the first and second amendments. Even the NRA has responded (albeit toothlessly) by reaffirming their support for 30-year-old federal law that “makes it unlawful to manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, possess, transfer, or receive an undetectable firearm.” I say toothlessly because as far as I know, they haven’t addressed the particular firearm or means in question which theoretically includes a steel metal block to voluntarily make it comply with the 1988 Undetectable Firearms Act.

And of course, the obvious problem is that since the plans have already been released to the public before being blocked, how do you unring that bell?

It will be interesting to see where this leads once the dust settles. My hope is that the restraining order doesn’t get lifted once people stop caring about it and the “irreparable harm” has a permission structure to proceed unnoticed, like with so many other things lately.