Australia Cracks Down on Consumer-Made 3D-Printed Guns
3D printers are one of the most impressive and useful bits of technology we’ve seen that isn’t a smartphone or a laptop that weighs two pounds. 3D printing technology has revolutionized certain industries like car manufacturing and life-saving surgeries, and has made it possible to create amazing things like 3D-printed kidneys made from a patient’s own living cells, thus eliminating the need to wait for donors.
3D printing is the future, but like all good things, there’s a downside. And that downside is 3D printed guns.
In 2012, the US group Defense Distributed designed plans to make a plastic 3D-printed gun at home, and these plans could be downloaded and used by anyone who owned a 3D printer. Obviously, in 2013, the United States Department of State demanded the removal of these instructions from their website. But clearly, the idea and use of a 3D-made gun has not disappeared, and could pose huge problems to gun control legislation not just in America, but around the world.
Take a look at the definitely impressive gun that mechanical engineering student James Patrick has produced, a gun that fires up to eight bullets between reloads. The entire gun is 3D printed except for an elastic band spring, a metal firing pin, and steel rods as detectable metal. It is the world’s first functional 3D-printed repeating firearm printed with a consumer printer.
Australia’s response? Not so fast.
Australia has taken measures to crack down on producing not just 3D guns, but the instructions to make them.
Lawmakers in Australia recently amended their Weapons Prohibition Act of 1998 that banned guns, adding that it is now a crime to own the information necessary to produce the guns. If you’re caught with the blueprints, you can face up to 14 years in prison.
Australia isn’t the only country to go head to head with 3D-printed guns. In the United States, 3D-printed guns are illegal to manufacture without a license; with a license, a metal plate must be inserted into the plastic body so the weapon may be detectable. In the United Kingdom, it is similarly illegal to create and own an unregistered, homemade printed gun. Japan was the first country to arrest someone for owning five functional 3D guns.
However, policing the ownership of 3D guns is even more complicated and difficult than it is to police the ownership of regular ones.