Attorney General Jeff Sessions pledged today that the Department of Justice will "vigorously enforce" laws against "plastic firearms that are undetectable." The announcement came despite the Trump administration’s opposition to a lawsuit filed by the District of Columbia and 19 states that are seeking to halt 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 Department of Justice filed a brief in which it called on a federal judge to annul an injunction that bars the publishing of blueprints for 3D-printed guns. Earlier this year, the Department of State had settled with Defense Distributed, allowing it to post instructions for printing a gun using a 3D printer after stopping the publication for several years. Defense Distributed.  Those who support Defense Distributed -- which originally published plans for 3D printed guns -- contend that regulating the software for printable firearms involves free speech but not laws affecting firearms. Supporters of Defense Distributed argue that the information is protected speech, which is a separate from the actual production of the guns. In defiance of a judge’s order against Defense Distributed, plans for 3D guns were published by the Code Is Free Speech website and went viral. 

The District of Columbia joined 19 states in suing for an injunction, arguing the 3D printable firearms are untraceable and could end up in the hands of terrorists and criminals. A federal judge then issued a temporary hold on the publishing of the gun plans, which DOJ is opposing.

The Department of Justice argues in its brief that the states and D.C. have not made their case sufficiently, given the current enforcement against undetectable weapons within the United States, and that the aforementioned 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 Donald Trump has been skeptical about 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!”

Recently in Australia, authorities seized a number of handguns in Queensland that are believed to have been made with downloaded plans. The media there call them "Wiki-weapons."
 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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