Working gun made with 3D printer


The BBC's Rebecca Morelle saw the 3D-printed gun's first test in Austin, Texas

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The world's first gun made with 3D printer technology has been successfully fired in the US.

The controversial group which created the firearm, Defense Distributed, plans to make the blueprints available online.

The group has spent a year trying to create the firearm, which was successfully tested on Saturday at a firing range south of Austin, Texas.

Anti-gun campaigners have criticised the project.

Europe's law enforcement agency said it was monitoring developments.

Victoria Baines, from Europol's cybercrime centre, said that at present criminals were more likely to pursue traditional routes to obtain firearms.

She added, however: "But as time goes on and as this technology becomes more user friendly and more cost effective, it is possible that some of these risks will emerge."

Defense Distributed is headed by Cody Wilson, a 25-year-old law student at the University of Texas.

Mr Wilson said: "I think a lot of people weren't expecting that this could be done."

3D-printed gun parts The gun was assembled from separate printed components made from ABS plastic - only the firing pin was made from metal

3D printing has been hailed as the future of manufacturing.

The technology works by building up layer upon layer of material - typically plastic - to build complex solid objects.

The idea is that as the printers become cheaper, instead of buying goods from shops, consumers will instead be able to download designs and print out the items at home.

But as with all new technologies, there are risks as well as benefits.

Personal liberties

The gun was made on a 3D printer that cost $8,000 (£5,140) from the online auction site eBay.

It was assembled from separate printed components made from ABS plastic - only the firing pin was made from metal.

Mr Wilson, who describes himself as a crypto-anarchist, said his plans to make the design available were "about liberty".

He told the BBC: "There is a demand of guns - there just is. There are states all over the world that say you can't own firearms - and that's not true anymore.

"I'm seeing a world where technology says you can pretty much be able to have whatever you want. It's not up to the political players any more."

Asked if he felt any sense of responsibility about whose hands the gun might fall into, he told the BBC: "I recognise the tool might be used to harm other people - that's what the tool is - it's a gun.

"But I don't think that's a reason to not do it - or a reason not to put it out there."

Gun control

To make the gun, Mr Wilson received a manufacturing and seller's licence from the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Donna Sellers, from the ATF, told BBC News that the 3D-printed gun, as long as it was not a National Firearms Act weapon (an automatic gun, for example), was legal in the US.

She said: "[In the US] a person can manufacture a firearm for their own use. However, if they engage in the business of manufacture to sell a gun, they need a licence."

Amid America's ongoing gun debate in the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, US congressman Steve Israel recently called for a ban on 3D guns under the Undetectable Firearms Act.

Groups looking to tighten US gun laws have also expressed concern.

Leah Gunn Barrett, from New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, has said: "These guns could fall into the hands of people who should not have guns - criminals, people who are seriously mentally ill, people who are convicted of domestic violence, even children."

3D printing technology has already been used by some criminal organisations to create card readers - "skimmers" - that are inserted into bank machines.

Many law enforcement agencies around the world now have people dedicated to monitoring cybercrime and emerging technologies such as 3D printers.

Ms Baines from Europol said: "What we know is that technology proceeds much more quickly than we expect it to. So by getting one step ahead of the technological developments, we hope and believe we will be able to get one step ahead of the criminals as well."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 979.

    It costs me £25 to replace the black cartridge in my HP Printer, it sounds to me like you would need to be an international criminal mastermind just to afford the refills for your 3d Printer.

    Al Qeada spent thousands on commercial air liner lessons for several terrorists. A £5K printer and the plastic is small change to them con sidering what they could do with this technology.

  • rate this

    Comment number 978.

    Why all this ill feeling against the USA? Ok an American is being reported as having invented this thing, and he did not come across as being another Nobel,

    BUT the technology to do this is becoming available for anyone anywhere to do these things.

    It is because of the USA that we know about this - we shouldn't knock the Country/Culture over one disagreable person/product.

  • rate this

    Comment number 977.

    It is very worrying that any oddball can now download a gun and rectify and supposed grievances he has.

    Individual can be very irrational and unpredictable so the idea of even more unstable fruitcakes getting guns worries me far more then the untrustworthiness of our elected leaders.


  • rate this

    Comment number 976.

    Sad it's not possible to make brains with 3D printers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 975.

    God bless America!

  • rate this

    Comment number 974.

    probably the worst reporter i've ever seen; about as eloquent as a pear tree

  • rate this

    Comment number 973.

    Just another action that supports my belief that americans have not yet grown up and are all gun totin cowboys. Yet more chnce s for Young children to kill more Young children. Wil the last person alive in the US turn off the lights....

  • rate this

    Comment number 972.

    Worrying, although mainly plastic guns are not new this one has a minimal amount therefore will probably avoid basic security arches. Wonder how many shells it can hold & what the fire rate is my guess is not much/many & most have to have metal ammo although that can be sorted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 971.

    Surely, the all-plastic gun is a terrorist weapon. Anyone threatening to distribute the blueprints for this should be arrested and locked up.

  • Comment number 970.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 969.

    stats also show its more likely a rapist will just steal your gun.
    Prove it.
    Rape fell 85% when Orlando police publicised a program to train women in gun use.

    "Your sheer stupidity infuriates me."
    Resorting to insults, is often an indication they've lost the argument, & control. Probably best that at least you are not armed, lest those stupider than you infuriate u.

  • rate this

    Comment number 968.

    If this becomes available in China I don't think the Communist government will last very long.

  • rate this

    Comment number 967.

    In 2012 the Home Office reported that, "in 2010/11, firearms were involved in 11,227 recorded offences in England and Wales, the seventh consecutive annual fall".[12] Firearms statistics in England and Wales include airguns and imitation guns, which make up a high proportion of these recorded offences...........

  • rate this

    Comment number 966.

    Some people are actually seemingly hoping that Americans all kill each other! I'm no friend of guns or this gadget but think of what you are writing before you hit send. Wishing the self-inflicted death of an entire people is wishing for genocide like Yugoslavians killing other Yugoslavians, Rwandans killing other Rwandans. Why is the BBC allowing this??

  • rate this

    Comment number 965.

    931. DustyPockets
    Good grief, the guy squirts out a single shot .22 and everybody jumps in to best up the Yankees.
    Well, yes. When the US first dropped an atom bomb on Hiroshima we didn't think much of it, but now everybody has / wants an WMD, so we're conscious about being fooled twice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 964.

    Being an American that supports the 2nd admendment, I couldn't agree more with the posts calling this irresponsible and utterly rediculous.

    Don't expect our government to outlaw this any time soon. We're incredibly too disfunctional.

  • rate this

    Comment number 963.

    951 Sally

    The facts you are talking about are non-existent. Yes you can talk about the average number of murders but you are forgetting that the population has increased. If you divide the number of murders that occurred by the population for each year. Then compare pre-1996 to post-1996 you will find that for most years there is a reduction in the murder rate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 962.

    947 The Chinese invented the abacus thousands of years ago. That doesn't mean they also invented the computer either. Leonardo Da Vinci had drawings of heavier than air flying craft hundreds of years before the Wright Brothers invented the airplane. You don't hear Italians taking credit for inventing it do you? Jealous. Very funny.

  • rate this

    Comment number 961.

    So the 'gun nuts' are right, in a sense. Obviously it will not be possible to stop this printing replication from being universally available, eventually (most logical control would be the printers themselves, severely restrict them) so we have to put the safeguards in place that anticipate a fully armed citizenry. If you think the US is scarey wait until it gets to ....(insert fav trouble spot)

  • rate this

    Comment number 960.

    The Americans love their pop guns it makes them feel free. They equate freedom with war which is why they bring war to so many parts of the world. They're basically at war with themselves.


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