3D Printing

European Cops Join Freakout Over 3D-Printed Guns, Admit They're Beyond Control

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3D-printed Liberator handgun
Defense Distributed

Europeans may be a little late to join the international panic by government officials over the ability of 3D printing to render their gun restrictions moot, but they're piling on in fine style. Authorities in several countries have purchased consumer-grade 3D printers to test the premise that you can make a working firearm on the widgets. Not surprisingly, the answer is resounding: "oh shit." And now they're wondering if there's a damned thing they can do about it.

For the New York Times, Georgi Kantchev writes:

PARIS — The gun fired four shots into a gelatin block. Each nine-millimeter bullet punched deep into the substance, which was meant to mimic the density of a human body.

For the experts at the Austrian Interior Ministry performing the test, it was a clear sign: This was a deadly weapon.

But it was no ordinary gun. The officials had downloaded the gun's digital blueprints from the Internet and "printed" the weapon on a type of 3-D printer that any person could buy online for about $1,360. It took the Austrian authorities 30 hours, and maybe $68 worth of plastic polymer, built up layer by layer according to the software instructions, to make the gun.

"Our interest was to see if the manufacturing of a working gun using this technology is possible," said Karl-Heinz Grundböck, a spokesman for the Austrian Interior Ministry, which performed the test in May. "The answer was a very clear 'Yes.' "

German police are also making their own 3D guns, as is the European Union's Europol—apparently in the hope that if they try it often enough, it won't work. Printing a gun at home is already illegal throughout the EU, but as Troels Oerting Joergensen, head of the European Cybercrime Centre at Europol, tells the Times, "It is very difficult to do anything about it. Of course you can say that it is illegal, but as with everything else on the Internet, you can always get it from somewhere."

That's pretty similar to what the U.S Department of Homeland Security told law enforcement agencies a few months ago, when it issued a bulletin saying, "Proposed legislation to ban 3D printing of weapons may deter, but cannot completely prevent their production." DHS added, "limiting access may be impossible."

As I've written before, European civilans aren't so gun averse as their (or our) politicians like to pretend. In 2003, The Small Arms Survey, based in Switzerland, estimated that there were a minimum of 1.4 million unregistered (illegal) firearms in Austria, where that late-to-the-party, 3D-printed Liberator pistol was tested. The latest estimate, from 2011, of total guns in the country is 2.5 million, with roughly 30 guns per 100 civilians (the SAS guesstimates the U.S. to have about 89 guns per 100 civilians). Germany is estimated to have between 17 and 20 million unregistered guns, with a total of 25 million in civilian hands. That's also 30 guns for every 100 civilians, with a majority of them illegally owned.

So Europeans are interested in firearms, and not so rigidly law-abiding about acquiring and keeping them. Given the relatively restrictive laws that prevail on most of the continent, that may well be a ripe environment for DIY 3D-printing projects—even riper than the comparatively permissive legal environment in the U.S.

More Reason coverage of 3D-printed guns here.

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  1. Transuniversal warfare caused by bullets flying between dimensions is going to have global implications.

  2. “Our interest was to see if the manufacturing of a working gun using this technology is possible”

    Our governments live in a world of fantasy, where nothing is real unless they say so.

    1. How do you know something is true (or not) unless authority says so, and if authority says something is true (or not), who are you do say otherwise?

      Everything must be judged by the source, not on its own merit.

      1. Yeah, I could have 3-D printed a gun myself months ago; fired it; reloaded it; fired it again; done all of that; and I still wouldn’t know if it actually worked until the government said so.

        1. Meanwhile, we’ve got ObamaCare exchange websites that are working quite well–no matter whether any of us can get on them and actually buy insurance or not.

          Nothing is real unless the governments says so, and, apparently, they can turn fantasy into reality by releasing an official statement, too.

          What would we do without them?

          1. We’d all be slaves of the rethuglican teahadist KOCK BROTHERS.

  3. “Holy shit, something our bans/regulations will have absolutely zero impact on. What the fuck do we do?”

    1. Ban the 3-D printer.

      1. Too narrow. They’ll have to ban the whole dimension.

        1. I don’t think banning the 3-D printer will work, but that might be what they do.

          1. Banning drugs and non-3-D printed guns didn’t work either, but that didn’t stop them.

      2. Time to print a 3D printer.

        1. +1 Von Neumann

        2. Some designs are pretty close to self replication.

  4. “Printing a gun at home is already illegal throughout the EU, but as Troels Oerting Joergensen, head of the European Cybercrime Centre at Europol, tells the Times, “It is very difficult to do anything about it. Of course you can say that it is illegal, but as with everything else on the Internet, you can always get it from somewhere.”

    Widespread non-compliance with the existing gun laws regarding commercially produced firearms in EU countries like Germany has been going on for a long time anyway.

    That’s what all the anti-gun folks in this country try to ignore when they try to hold up those countries as a model for us to follow. Just because people aren’t supposed to have guns over there doesn’t actually mean that they don’t.

    1. Widespread non-compliance with the existing gun laws regarding commercially produced firearms in EU countries like Germany has been going on for a long time anyway.

      There are 25 million civilian owned guns in Germany. Germany has a population of 80 million people. That’s good enough to put them 15th in the world in per capita gun ownership. I hardly think people printing guns will magically result in every German owning a firearm, since most Germans already have the ability to buy a gun if they want to.

      By the way, look at the list of guns per capita on Wikipedia.

      With the exception of Iraq, which is still essentially a warzone, none of the countries in the top 15 have a murder rate over 5 per 100,000. Most of the countries in the top 20 are Western nations with unbelievably low crime and murder rates. Meanwhile, Mexico (murder rate 22 per 100,000) clocks in at 42nd in per capita gun ownership and Venezuela (murder rate 57 per 100,000) has a total gun ban.

      It’s almost like there’s no correlation between gun ownership and crime.

      1. You aren’t playing fair. You’re citing murder rates. Everybody knows it’s only the gun murder rate that counts.
        [/sarc]

  5. Just squeeze the balloon harder. That’ll help.

  6. Any Houston people want to meet for lunch? Work is slooooooow and my secretary is gone so nobody will notice.

    1. Sorry, there’s an oven I need to go slam my dick in.

      1. Chill. I’m only a troll in real life to opposing counsel. You should see the comments I am putting on this credit facility.

        And I think I’m done trolling for now. I will participate occasionally and respectfully.

    2. Energy Corridor, Downtown, or Galleria?

      Or something weird like Greenspoint?

      I used to work at Dairy Ashford and I-10.

        1. And they never heard from Spoonman. again…

          1. I work in Philadelphia now.

      1. That’s on topic. Gunspoint.

        1. I’ve only been there once when I got off on the wrong exit going to Intercontinental. Minorities stared at me silently as I drove on, like something out of a movie.

      2. Energy Corridor? Is that what we call 45 South now? I’ve been gone too long.

        1. Usually people mean west past the beltway on I-10. A bunch of e&p is there.

          1. No dice. I work in the Gessner area of Memorial. Plus my wife packed lunch for me today, so… sorry.

            1. Damn, we should have grabbed lunch when I worked at Dairy Ashford.

  7. “Our interest was to see if the manufacturing of a working gun using this technology is possible,” said Karl-Heinz Grundb?ck, a spokesman for the Austrian Interior Ministry, which performed the test in May. “The answer was a very clear ‘Yes.’ “

    Got pulled over at a checkpoint in Austria once and had to wait 1/2 hour to get a ridiculously expensive ticket for not having a highway sticker. There were four cops all toting machine guns. We weren’t allowed to run the engine even though it was cold as fuck. It was like being in a WWII Nazi film. But God forbid any ‘civilians’ make a little 9 mm plastic gun. Fuck the Austrian cops and fuck Austria in general, I can’t stand that country.

    1. Salzburg is lovely, though.

  8. PARIS ? The gun fired four shots into a gelatin block. Each nine-millimeter bullet punched deep into the substance, which was meant to mimic the density of a human body.

    For the experts at the Austrian Interior Ministry performing the test, it was a clear sign: This was a deadly weapon.

    Georgi Kantev really knows how to build the suspense. A bullet… fired from a gun… penetrated ballistic gel… designed to mimic the human body.

    *catches breath*

  9. That’s pretty similar to what the U.S Department of Homeland Security told law enforcement agencies a few months ago, when it issued a bulletin saying, “Proposed legislation to ban 3D printing of weapons may deter, but cannot completely prevent their production.” DHS added, “limiting access may be impossible.”

    So, like the war on drugs, they can make lives miserable for thousands of people, fill our prisons, but they can’t completely prevent its production or use.

    Libertopia!

  10. Look, there’s only one solution. We have to ban the intertoobs. Intertoobs is belong to the government, it’s too dangerous for the people.

    1. If it weren’t for those damned interwebs, Weiner would be mayor of NYC!

    2. For all the “government invented the internet” crap, if the US government back in the 1980s had any inkling that the internet would soon allow mass dissemination of data which it wants to control, I’d bet it would have tried to ban it.

      1. Most likely. But fortunately for all of us, it’s far too late to put this cat back into the bag. It would be easier to start another foreign war in Syria, and we saw how that worked out.

  11. Once printers become advanced enough to print a rifle-grade barrel (The hardest-to-manufacture part), that’s it for gun control. They already have metal printers, now it’s just a question of the technology advancing and the prices dropping.

    1. Nope, it’s time for a new government agency to track and control this.

      1. Nope, it’s time for a new government agency to track and control this.

        Yep, because you can never have too many government agencies and they can never become too big. Because, Jerbz created! And we can keep spending forever!

      2. Nope. Something this serious will require a czar.

    2. Once printers become advanced enough to print a rifle-grade barrel (The hardest-to-manufacture part), that’s it for gun control 3-D printers.

      ftfy

      Once printers can do that, then they will become a product you can only legally own with a license. A condition of that license will be that government agents may enter your home and inspect it at any time whereupon you must prove to their satisfaction that it has not been used to make any contraband.

      Kinda like how you can’t legally own something that can condense evaporated vapors without a license, etc…

      1. Note that a CNC machine can make NFA parts like full-auto sears and conversion kits and pretty much any gun part EXCEPT a barrel, right now.

        And there’s no licensing for them at all.

        (Nor is there licensing for rifling machines or lathes and such capable of making a barrel.)

        Why would “but it’s a 3d printer, not a CNC mill!” change that?

        I mean, the only thing stopping someone from using a CNC machine (or even manual tools!) from making felonies by the case is that… they’re felonies.

        And there’s no flood of them being made now.

    3. I think that basically what this is coming down to is a technology war between governments, who feel that technology is their greatest tool in controlling and suppressing the people, and the the people, who feel that technology is their greatest tool to gain more freedom.

      So who wins that war? I think the odds are on the side of the people, since the numbers are vastly in our favor, and government employees tend to be not exactly the sharpest tools in the shed.

      For example. What would happen to me if I took 3.5 years to develop a website at the cost of 600 million dollars and then it goes totally fubar? Answer: I will need to find a government job, because I won’t ever be able to work in the private sector again, save sweeping floors somewhere.

      1. I think you’re correct on both counts: how the conflict will be defined and the most likely outcome. Now I understand your optimism.

        A link shared in HandR comments a while back that showed a man constructing a decently accurate AK from a “shit shovel” was amazing.

        I now pursue ownership of the tools required for such in addition to attaining a 3D printer. I hope to associate with others who feel the same as you: technological advances will continue to enhance the liberty of individuals and decentralize political/police power.

        1. Boris, the genius behind the AK47 from a shovel, built a Glock.

        2. A link shared in HandR comments a while back that showed a man constructing a decently accurate AK from a “shit shovel” was amazing.

          To be fair, all he really made was the receiver and stock – he bought all the rest of the parts pre-made, if I recall the video correctly.

        3. We are talking about 1885 technology.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F…..le_designs

  12. Next someone will point out to them that European criminals can already trivially get smuggled weapons from Back East and Down South.

    And that actually organized criminals with capital could also just get some machine tools and make real, metal guns.

    Nobody’s ever putting the firearms genie back in the bottle; you can make a usable-once-and-that’s-all-you-need shotgun with hardware store parts and simple hand tools.

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