Sydney has a massive problem with illegal firearms and gangland shootings, that much we already know. What's interesting, however, is that the NSW Police Force has downloaded the 3D printable weapon known as The Liberator to print for themselves, and they're terrified of the thing. In the words of the Police Commissioner: "they are truly undetectedable, truly untraceable, cheap, easy to make". Welcome to the new Wild West.
Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione called a press conference today after the NSW Police Force concluded its experiments with 3D printable weapons, including The Liberator. The boffins over at the NSW Police bought themselves a 3D printer for $1700 and decided to test how easy it would be to build their own gun. They downloaded the blueprints for The Liberator from the internet and printed out two weapons to test fire.
All in all, they printed the 15 parts required to assemble The Liberator in 27 hours and assembled it within 60 seconds with a firing pin fashioned out of a steel nail. The two guns were test fired into a block of resin designed to simulate human muscle, and the first bullet penetrated the resin block up to 17 centimetres. NSW Police Ballistics division confirm that it would be a fatal wound if pointed at someone.
What's interesting about the second device they tested, however, was the "catastrophic failure" of the weapon. Translation? It exploded. The plastic gave way to the brutal force of an exploding .38 caliber bullet and the barrel exploded.
Police printed a second one to bring it along to the press conference to show people with a simple message: don't print guns.
It seems like a simple message: the Police don't want you killing people (duh), but moreso, Police don't want you to kill yourself.
An incredibly sobered Police Commissioner took to the podium and told people about the dangers of a 3D printed gun, and clearly it's something that frightens him.
"[3D-printed weapons] are truly undetectable, truly untraceable, cheap, easy to make. [This] weapon cost us $35 to make. We made that on a base entry level 3D printer. That printer cost us $1700. It truly is a home printer for so many people to make untraceable weapons. It is an emerging threat.
"They will kill."
The Commissioner added that he thought the name, The Liberator, was incredibly ironic, explaining that the last gun to be called The Liberator was dropped behind enemy lines during World War II so that French Resistance soldiers could kill Nazis and steal their guns in order to keep fighting. It's a one-shot weapon that was incredibly dangerous to use back then, too. Nothing changes.
So what can the Police do to stop the dissemination and construction of 3D-printed guns? Not a damn thing...yet.
The Police Service will be raising their extreme concerns with the Federal Government, as well as other Police Commissioners at upcoming meetings to try and make the download and construction of 3D printed guns illegal in Australia.
The NSW Commissioner said that the realist in him believes that you can never stop the spread of The Liberator — and he's right — but at least they can tell people how dangerous they are.
"My greater concern is that someone would do this, make one, and then suffer the consequences and kill themselves [after a catastrophic failure]. They don't want to shoot someone, they're just fascinated [by 3D printing]. If we didn't alert someone to what happened to us, we would be considered negligent.
"Don't try it, no matter what end of this gun you can be on, you could die. Do not download, do not manufacture The Liberator," the Commissioner concluded.