A man in Sweden has been prosecuted for 3D printing illegal firearms
With a help of a 3D printer, he manufactured two illegal firearms and accessories in plastic.
In July 2017, the Police did a house search based on that there should be illegal firearms at the man’s address. They were right.
The Police found a possibly drug-affected man in his 30’s and a variety of illegal firearms.
The firearms were two complete 22 centimeter long single-shot pistols, as well as spare parts and three single-shot barrels.
Below: Looks like the prosecuted man printed the “The Liberator”
The Police have done tests with these illegal firearms and they failed to work. Regardless, according to Swedish law, it is illegal to produce or possess the vital parts of a firearm without a proper firearms license.
This is regardless of production method, so 3D printers don’t change anything in the legislation which is one thing I think the media forgets when they touch the subject.
The Police suspects that the man used the wrong kind of plastic in his 3D printer, and that’s the reason why the firearms failed to fire.
The suspect said that he downloaded the CAD drawings from the Internet and he also bought the plastic consumables online. But it’s always easy to shout “ban 3D printers!”, but people have been able to make illegal firearms on milling machines (and even easier methods) for well over 100 years now.
One of the single-shot barrels also had a 3D printed plastic bullet.
To me, it looks like a 9×19 mm. It’s actually the first time I’ve seen a 3D printed bullet, and unfortunately, the story doesn’t tell if there were a primer and gunpowder as well but I suspect not.
I think this is one of the biggest problems with 3D printing a firearm. While it may be fairly easy to download the CAD and start printing, the quality is too low and you still need some metal parts for it to work. But you also need to “feed” the illegal firearm, and these people don’t have access to ammunition, primers, gunpowder etc. to make the whole “system” work.
Other stories, like this one from Australia, tells the same story: “weapons seized in the Melbourne raid appear to be of low quality, and expressed doubt over the accused’s ability to produce a firearm of genuine sophistication.”
Also in 2013, Finnish Yle TV2 current affairs programme Ajankohtainen kakkonen produced a Liberator handgun under the supervision of a licensed gunsmith and fired it under controlled conditions. During the experiment, the weapon shattered. I think this happened when the Australian Police tried The Liberator as well, but I cannot find the link. However, The Liberator has still been able to work as intended (i.e. shoot), but it seems it may be as dangerous to stand in front of it, as behind or around it. I for sure wouldn’t volunteer to shoot one.
You can check Wikipedia’s article on “The Liberator” (gun) here.
Beware of your local and national legislation before even considering making your own firearm.
Apart from the firearms’ charges the man is also charged with a variety of other crimes.