Administration

Sessions vows to prosecute makers of ‘undetectable’ 3D printed guns

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday pledged that the Justice Department will “vigorously enforce” laws against “plastic firearms that are undetectable,” despite its opposition to a number of states trying to stop the publication of blueprints for 3D printed guns online.

“We will not stand for the evasion, especially the flaunting, of current law and will take action to ensure that individuals who violate the law by making plastic firearms and rendering them undetectable, will be prosecuted to the fullest extent,” Sessions said in a statement.

On Wednesday, the DOJ filed a brief urging a federal judge to lift an injunction barring the publishing of blueprints for 3D-printed guns.

The State Department earlier this year settled with Defense Distributed, allowing it to post instructions for printing a gun using a 3D printer after stopping the publication for several years.

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Nineteen states and the District of Columbia sued for an injunction, arguing such firearms are untraceable and could easily fall into the hands of criminals or terrorists.

A federal judge subsequently issued a temporary block on the publishing of the blueprints, which the DOJ is opposing. 

The DOJ’s brief argues that the states have not sufficiently made a case, given current domestic enforcement against undetectable weapons, and that the settlement was about the State Department’s purview over the regulation of exports.

“The manufacture or possession of plastic guns that are undetectable is a serious federal crime, punishable by up to five years in prison,” the brief states. “Neither those enforcement efforts nor the prohibition itself is affected in any way by the actions challenged in this case.” 

President Trump himself has expressed skepticism on public access to 3D-printed guns, tweeting in July, “I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!”

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