A few weeks ago, in the town of Mudjimba on the Sunshine Coast of Eastern Australia, police raided a house and found 3D-printed plastic guns, some false identifications and a small amount of drugs.
“They are all polymer and all they needed was a pin and a spring-type assembly pushed into it to make it work. For all intents and purposes they would look like a gun.”
Police allege that three 3D-printed handguns, along with weapon parts, a knuckle duster, false licences and drugs, were found at a house at Mudjimba on Wednesday.
The 3D revolver shown above appears to be a variation of the Imura revolver design, named for the Japanese inventor who was jailed for making a 3D-printed revolver that was capable of firing blanks. The Mudjimba revolver doesn’t seem to have any metal in it. This makes it highly unlikely to operate successfully.
As the police noted, a firing pin and springs were needed, at a minimum. If the officer quoted thinks it would contain the forces of factory ammunition, I would like to see a video of him test firing it.
The single-shot designs found at Mudjimba seem unlikely to be capable of firing as claimed by the police. They appear to be a sort of zip gun design, without some necessary metal components. The barrels, made of plastic, are unlikely to hold up to firing more than a single shot, if that.
Such designs can be made much more capable by using metal tubes for barrel liners, metal springs, and a metal breech plate and firing pin. Such hybrid designs are simple and easy to make, but they’re not any easier to construct than simple traditional designs using metal and wood…without 3D printers.
The current media meltdown over 3D guns in the United States has misinformed people all over the world. In an article about the Mudjimba case, Sporting Shooter shows how far the misinformation has spread.
Should Australia ban 3D-printed gun plans like the US?
Mr Matthews said that, while there should be a crackdown on printed weapons because “there is nothing stopping someone from getting a print from the States”, he disagrees with the need for regulatory movement against the 3D printing process being used to print other items.
The United States has not banned 3D-printed guns. Designs have been freely available on the Internet in the United States for five years or more. Unlike Australia, individuals in the United States have always had a right to make their own firearms, and have done so for over 200 years.
Only recently have a couple of authoritarian states claimed to have the power to license individuals who desire to make their own guns. Those claims will likely be challenged in court.
The misconception in the case of 3D printed guns comes from the Cody Wilson/Defense Distributed case, where the State Department claimed the 3D-printed designs were covered under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). Those regulations are designed to control the export of defense and military related technologies. It was a losing case on First Amendment grounds from the start.
People all over the world, whatever the local laws, have been making guns at home for centuries. Australians lost the legal right to do that in 1996.
The person who printed the designs in Mudjimba has claimed he didn’t know it was illegal to do so.
In the Australian state of Queensland, which includes Mudjimba, non-firing replicas are not illegal.
In New South Wales, the Australian state to the South of Queensland, a license is required to possess a non-functioning replica. In New South Wales, possessing the computer code to print out a 3D gun is a crime. And so it goes.
©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.