Technology

3D-printed knuckle dusters and gun parts seized in Australia

3D-printed knuckle duster
Image caption Police seized a set of 3D-printed knuckle dusters in Mudgeeraba, Queensland

Police in Australia have seized 3D-printed weapons after a raid in a suburb of Gold Coast City, Queensland.

The haul included plastic knuckle dusters and what are suspected to be printed gun parts.

If confirmed, the state's police force has said it would be the first time it had discovered 3D-printed firearm components in a home.

Australian authorities released a series of videos in 2013 highlighting the dangers of using 3D-printed guns.

"We've obviously got to get it through our ballistic experts but we can identify most if not all of the major components of a weapon," detective inspector Scott Knowles of Queensland Police Service told ABC News following the arrest of a 28-year-old suspect in Mudgeeraba.

Image caption Queensland police service's ballistics experts are carrying out checks on the 3D-printed parts seized

"To us, it appears that they are complete weapons just requiring assembly.

"The technology's dangerous [because] the materials they're using aren't able to sustain the sorts of forces that come as a result of the weapons they're trying to discharge."

He added that the owner of the printer thought to have been involved had given the machine to the suspect to be calibrated, and was not aware that it was going to be misused.

Last year, Australia's Senate held an inquiry into gun-related violence, during which there were calls for the country's laws to be updated to take account of new technologies.

"We're going to have a situation where someone is going to be shot and injured with the use of a 3D device," warned Howard Brown from the Victims of Crime Assistance League at the time.

It was suggested that it be made an offence to own computer files that would allow 3D-printed weapons to be manufactured.

However, DI Knowles noted that Queensland's current laws were already adequate to prosecute a case if ballistics experts confirmed the 3D-printed parts involved were designed for use in firearms.

"With weapons and parts manufactured this way still being classified as a firearm under current legislation, people can also see themselves before the courts for manufacturing and possessing these items" he said.

Japan jailing

3D-printed weapon arrests are still a relatively rare occurrence.

Image caption The 3D-printed guns were put on display at Kanagawa police station following Imura's arrest

However, a Japanese man was jailed for two years in October after making guns with a 3D printer at his home in Kawasaki, Japan. It is believed he is the first person to have received a prison sentence for such an offence.

Yoshitomo Imura was arrested after he uploaded a video showing how he had created the weapons to the internet.

He told officers that he had not believed his actions had been illegal.

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