Concerns over 3D firearms, police and OM want to ban design sharing

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NOS News

  • Remco Andringa

    editor Police and Law

  • Remco Andringa

    editor Police and Law

The Dutch police are concerned about the rise of 3D printed firearms. These are increasingly found both here and abroad. Police and judiciary are calling for a ban on the distribution of 3D weapon designs.

Last year, police found 3D firearms or parts for them fourteen times. It was the first time that the police found such weapons in the Netherlands. The police also discovered a number of workshops where firearms were printed on a larger scale.

This year, 3D firearms have also been found a few times, says Andy Kraag, head of the National Crime Squad. “We see these guns reaching a new target group: people who are not in the criminal circuit but would like to have a gun, such as people with extremist ideas.”

Protect yourself

In February, for example, the police arrested a suspected right-wing extremist in the village of Zonnemaire in Zealand. In addition to the swastika flag, he possessed a 3D-printed semi-automatic weapon and live ammunition. According to the police, the man wanted a gun to protect himself.

As far as is known, weapons from the 3D printer have not yet been used in shootings in the Netherlands, but abroad. For example, the perpetrator of the attack in the German city of Halle in 2019 had homemade weapons.

There seems to be interest not only among extremists, but also among hobbyists who enjoy experimenting with making 3D weapons. Dangerous, the police warn. Firing tests show that the weapons are very unreliable. “It takes a lot of expertise to assemble such a weapon properly,” says Kraag. “At worst, it will explode when you shoot.”

Punishable

Possessing 3D weapons (or parts thereof) is prohibited in the Netherlands. The same rules apply as for ordinary firearms. But publishing and distributing designs for 3D weapons is not an offence. That must be changed, the police and the prosecutor’s office believe.

“Such a manual has no other purpose than to create a 3D weapon,” said prosecutor Zlatko Trokic, who is responsible for tackling firearms. “It’s an illegal goal.”

Although there will always be places on the Internet where the files can be found, a ban on the distribution of manuals makes sense, according to Trokic. “I liken it to the spread of child pornography. It can’t be stopped everywhere, but the criminalization makes it much harder to download.”

Today, the police are discussing the approach to home-made weapons with other European countries and with manufacturers of 3D printers. “We are looking at whether we can also create technological barriers in printers so that these kinds of drawings are no longer accepted,” says Andy Kraag.

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The Liberator, the first 3D printed firearm in 2013

Making a plastic firearm is easy with a few hundred euro 3D printer and a design from the internet. Printing the parts takes about four days. However, a number of metal parts are still required, such as a barrel, spring and valve.

The first 3D printed weapon was the 2013 Liberator, which looks like a primitive plastic cap gun. The design was downloaded more than 100,000 times in a few days.

Fuck Gun Control

Meanwhile, the firearms already look much more real. The most popular is the FGC-9, where FGC stands for ‘Fuck Gun Control’, designed by an advocate of free gun ownership. It is a semi-automatic weapon that can fire a lethal shot when properly assembled.

Although 3D guns have also been found in the Netherlands since last year, the number is still minimal compared to regular firearms. Nevertheless, Detective Chief Collar sees reason to sound the alarm already now. “Weapons of this type have undergone tremendous development in a few years. We are on the threshold of a potential problem and would like to anticipate it.”

In the US, President Biden also wants to get rid of homemade weapons:

New step in the fight against guns in the US: tackling ghost guns

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