(CN) – One day after the Justice Department asked a federal judge to allow publication of blueprints for 3D-printed firearms, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday anyone who makes undetectable guns will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
A federal judge in Seattle temporarily stopped Defense Distributed from putting instructions on how to make 3D-printed guns on its website on July 31.
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson brought a federal complaint on behalf of 20 states over a settlement the gun-rights company reached with the U.S. government allowing internet publication of diagrams for the weapons.
On Wednesday, the Justice Department filed a brief in the case opposing the injunction, saying the case will likely be dismissed.
The Undetectable Firearms Act already prohibits manufacture of undetectable guns and will not be affected by allowing the public to download blueprints, according to the brief.
“Among other statutes, the Undetectable Firearms Act prohibits the manufacture, possession, sale, import, or transfer of undetectable firearms. The Department of Justice, among other agencies, enforces that prohibition, and will continue to do so vigorously. Neither those enforcement efforts nor the prohibition itself is affected in any way by the actions challenged in this case,” the brief says.
The State Department, which is the agency being sued by the states, does not have “authority to prohibit the domestic manufacture or possession” of 3D-printed guns, according to the brief.
Sessions’ department also said the injunction should be lifted because the suing states can’t show irreparable harm.
“But the core inadequacy of plaintiffs’ claims of irreparable harm is that they are not caused by, and cannot be traced to, the department’s regulatory actions or the challenged settlement agreement. Rather, if these harms occur at all, it will be because individuals violate the separate prohibitions of the Undetectable Firearms Act and other relevant domestic laws,” the brief says.
The Justice Department dismissed concerns over undetectable 3D-printed plastic weapons and untraceable bullets, saying “nothing in the State Department actions challenged in this case purports to permit the domestic production of undetectable firearms.”
In the statement issued Thursday, Sessions reiterated it is already illegal to manufacture undetectable weapons.
“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. Such firearms present a significant risk to public safety, and the Department of Justice will use every available tool to vigorously enforce this prohibition. We will work with federal, state and local law enforcement to identify any possible cases for prosecution,” Sessions said.
“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.”
U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik is scheduled to hear arguments on the temporary restraining order Aug. 21.