WASHINGTON – US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Thursday that he will prosecute those who produce and possess firearms made with 3D printers, since they are illegal, thus backing the temporary court prohibition placed on the publication of online manuals to create them.
“Under federal law, it is illegal to manufacture or possess plastic firearms that are undetectable. Violation of this law is punishable by up to five years in prison,” Sessions said in a statement issued on Thursday.
“We will not stand for the evasion ... 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,” he continued.
Sessions’ statement comes one day after his own Department of Justice formally asked the federal judge who put the temporary prohibition in place to lift it.
The move appears to provide evidence of conflicting viewpoints within the DOJ over the controversial issue of allowing people to acquire “undetectable” guns made with plastic, but which can fire live ammunition.
On July 31, a federal judge in Washington state blocked the Web posting of the instructions for 3D printing of weapons, which has been scheduled to occur the following day after the Donald Trump administration had reached an agreement to allow it with a company who has been battling for years in court to pursue that business.
Amid the controversy, Trump had said on July 31 that it “doesn’t ... make much sense” to let people to print 3D weapons at home, despite the fact that his own administration had come to a decision to allow it.
“I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public,” Trump said in a Twitter post on July 31, adding “Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!” referring to the National Rifle Association.
On Aug. 10, a group of 22 state attorneys general sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and to Sessions asking them to act immediately to thwart the publication of the online manuals.