3d printing guns bill

3D Printed Guns Take First Victim: Internet Freedom in Australia

By May 26, 2014. 3D Printing, Featured, Industry Insights

In the 3D printing industry everything moves so fast — and guns are generally such a big issue worldwide — that in a few short months 3D printed guns have gone from a widespread curiosity to a big deal, at least in the media (Wired USA just did a big piece on it) and now also in the legislative field.

Carl Judge from the PUP Party in Queensland, Australia is the first to propose specific legislation to outlaw not only the possession, distribution or manufacture of 3D printed weapons, but also the unauthorized publishing or swapping of digital blueprints and detailed instructions.

Ever since the first 3D printed gun surfaced (you all know who did it by now) we have been asking ourselves questions on this multi-faceted issue: its it good to give it visibility? Is it right to give it visibility? Is it right to 3D print guns? Are 3D printed guns a danger to society or to the 3D printing industry? Or do they just represent yet another form of democratization of production, with all that ensues?

The Weapons (Digital 3D and Printed Firearms) Amendment Bill 2014 in Australia is extremely detailed and basically amends the Weapons Act 1990 to include 3D printed weapons as well and introduce specific penalties according to the 3D printed gun category. It also introduces a specific procedure for obtaining a digital firearm license.

For Judge it is just a matter of acting early to address an issue that he sees as a real threat to society. “Nowadays there are well founded and serious concerns that such firearms will infiltrate our community and this very real risk requires a timely and comprehensive response,” he said in a statement. “The Bill that I have introduced into parliament provides that response.”

Gun defenders argue that guns do not kill people as much as people kill people. The alleged killer in the recent, tragic Isla Vista massacre certainly did not need to 3D print himself a gun to get his hands on one, and, even if he had 3D printed it, he likely would not have bothered to get himself a license. Australia gun laws are more restrictive than in the US but guns are not outlawed down under.

3D printed guns in JapanThe Australian bill could serve to make people more aware that 3D printed guns are just as dangerous as traditional guns and avoid other cases like Yoshitomo Imura’s in Japan, who was arrested with a full arsenal of 3D printed guns and said he simply did not know them to be illegal.

It is unlikely, however, that the bill would succeed in keeping people from swapping files and keep databases on how to 3D print guns. While it could be argued that gun availability may make their use more likely, it seems more difficult to extend the concept to 3D models and instructions: although it is obvious they could be used for manufacturing a gun, the digital files themselves are not a weapon. What about future video game guns for example, will they be made illegal too if they become too realistic?

My personal opinion is that either all guns are banned or none. I do not see the point in targeting 3D printed guns specifically other than to make this a bigger issue than it should be. That said, there is no doubt in my mind that we are going to see and hear a lot more on this subject in the months and years to come — there are just too many strongly held, but directly opposing convictions on this whole issue.

  • nick3499

    on the same note, ‘Licensed armourers may manufacture firearms using additive manufacturing process only if authorised’. can anyone imagine the mass production of firearms by the military industrial complex in general? not just in Australia, but worldwide.

  • Chig Erama

    On the last topic of toy guns, there are already laws in Australia that govern both toy guns in addition to replica fire arms… With the replica laws much more regulated, due to the fact that they *look* real, but at most fire blank caps.

  • Nightfalcon

    I vote for banning all weapons including 3d printed weapons of any material!
    No weapons …no massacres…no war. :-)
    Oki that is a bit too optimistic…but less weapons, less massacres, less war victims is probably true.
    Most people from Europe, like me, strongly believe in the state and accept his monopoly of legtimate Force. Therefore all kinds of weapons use is strongly restricted and controlled.
    In German Law there is no material description, neither a process of manufacturing description. It simply says: you cannot manufacture a barrel. I propose that is the way to go!

    Btw, as a 3D printing service bureau we categorically refuse to 3D print weapon parts, even the handle. :-)

    • Mike Molitch-Hou

      Why is that, when I say something like this, a bunch of gun advocates yell at me, but when you do it, no one gets mad? Kudos, Nightfalcon! I agree and wish that the gun rights people in the States weren’t so loud!

  • AussieBlue

    The ability for 3D printed/manufactured weapons to enter our communities has to be stopped. It’s not the sane, sensible people involved in 3D printing that are the worry, but the considerable number of disturbed, mentally ill, violent or just plain bad people who would be given more devices with which to perpetrate the evil. It has nothing to do with restricting internet freedom – that’s a dumb headline. Child pornography is restricted on the internet because it’s just plain common sense and decency. The blueprint files for 3D weapons can be traced digitally just the same way as Interpol and the FBI trace child pornographers. That’s the way to stop thousands of lethal weapons being made; make it illegal to download or file-swap the blueprints. Do this and we can all focus on the incredible world of additive manufacturing, making, inventing and having fun that 3D Printing represents.

  • lpol

    The real danger with 3D printed guns is that they can get through metal detector checkpoints where normal guns will be detected. The fact is that clever people have been making guns that can do this long before anyone thought of 3D printing a gun. The only reason someone would use a 3D printed gun instead of a normally produced one to commit a crime is if they wanted to get through a metal detector checkpoint. Otherwise they’d use an ordinary gun which is more reliable and easier to get. Plastic guns can blow up in your face. Also who is going to use 3D printed guns in a criminal way? Criminals will, not law abiding citizens. Why would criminals care that it is illegal to 3D print guns or download plans for them? There is a lot of evidence that making it illegal to download certain files makes very little difference to how often they are downloaded. Just look at the illegal downloading of music and movies. An army of lawyers have been trying to stop people from downloading these for many years without much success. I do think making all guns illegal is the way to go, but a lot of other people would fight this tooth and nail, so it’s unlikely to happen.