The NSW Police Force Is Terrified Of 3D Printed Guns

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.



    Isn't it harder to find ammo than actually printing the gun?

      Yes, it absolutely is harder. Ammo storage and purchase regulations in Australia are incredibly (and rightfully) strict, so stealing them from stores or people are both very risky and difficult options. I didn't mention buying them, because you can't get a permit or licence until you've proved that you're not the personality type to misuse them (background/history checks are also very strict).

    Yes, but anyone with a machine shop and/or basic mechanical knowledge can do the same thing out of metal. It's really not that hard.

      Everyone keeps saying this while seemingly failing to realise that most people do not have the ability/know-how to make their own guns out of steel! Can you honestly not see the difference between machining something and hitting print? My cat can hit print!

        you can make a shot gun out of two pieces of tube steel and a screw. no machining required.

          Yes, but that isn't concealable and the technology isn't going to improve.

        The easiest thing is to screw together a few pieces of steel pipe from the plumbing aisle of your local Home Depot. Faster, more reliable, and easier.
        But scaremongering doesn't work if it's not an amazing new technology or something people have been able to do for years and years, so they like to take the "modern technology will doom us all" approach instead.

    You don't need a machine shop, a hacksaw, files, drill. metal metal tubing , a piece of scrap metal, wood and fastenings.
    Assuming you had the tools already it would be cheaper and more reliable, the big difference is that as long as you can use a 3d printer the printed gun would be easier and more dangerous to you.

    Last edited 24/05/13 12:58 pm

    Why does anyone need a law specifically against 3d Printed Guns..

    I'm Pretty sure that manufacturing or modifying Firearms in Australia is generally illegal unless you are a registered Gunsmith... The Police should be Publicly reinforcing the Law and the seriousness of the offence of illegal firearms manufacture....

    Blocking a particular manufacturing technology is no way to progress this case.... As the Police and public already know, there are plenty of illegal handguns in Sydney....
    The only thing stopping most people with the skills (most metal workers) from manufacturing firearms (apart from a general disinclination) is the law......

    NSW Firearms Act 1996 Part 6 50A
    50A Unauthorised manufacture of firearms
    (1) A person who manufactures a firearm is guilty of an offence under this subsection unless the person is authorised by a licence or permit to manufacture the firearm.
    Maximum penalty: imprisonment for 10 years.

    ACT Firearms Act 1996 Part 15 228
    228 Offence—unauthorised manufacture of firearms
    (1) A person commits an offence if the person manufactures, or takes
    part in the manufacture of, a firearm.
    Maximum penalty:
    (a) if the firearm is a prohibited firearm—1 500 penalty units,
    imprisonment for 20 years or both; or
    (b) if the firearm is not a prohibited firearm—1 000 penalty units,
    imprisonment for 10 years or both.

    (3) In this section:
    manufacture, a firearm, includes assemble a firearm from firearm

    etc, every state has similar laws.

      What law specifically about printed guns are you talking about?

        "Printing" a gun is the same as "manufacturing" a gun. Law says no manufacturing so that covers printing too. The law doesn't say it's only illegal to make a gun if you fashion it from steel using only your bare hands and testicles as an anvil. Plastic/metal, traditional metal shop work or printing, it's all the same in the eyes of the law.

          What I'm getting at is that @md started going on about a specific law against printing plastic guns being useless because a law (you mentioned) already exists.

          Yet... There's no mention from the cops about pushing for a law about specifically printing guns. His post is just a badly-originated rant. Much like many of my posts on Gizmodo.

        @itroll_2s, I did read a comment in the above article which was used to base my unsolicited op ed.

        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.

        one of the hot topics around the world (Mainly USA I suppose) is a stupid proposal to ban the use of 3d Printing in the manufacturing of weapons (firearms).... I was just pointing (showing examples of law) out that any unauthorised manufacture is highly illegal... thanks...

        Last edited 25/05/13 11:52 am

    Yes, guns are dangerous - but it's no cause to go silly with terror or obsess over them like the Americans do.
    Considering the number of motor vehicle related deaths, and the prevalence of motor vehicles - wouldn't it be silly if we had the same hysteria about cars as we do with guns? What about cigarettes?

    When I was looking at footage of the shooting at the Mother's Day parade in New Orleans, and I saw all those hundreds of people who stampeded with blind panic away as soon as the first shots were made, I thought: why didn't some or all of them, work together to disarm and immobilise the shooter? He's just one guy - and they outnumber him and the bullets in his gun.
    Japanese bees wil swarm a hornet threatening its hive, and a herd of wilderbeest will work together to scare off a prowling lion - but when did humans lose that group defence instinct that helped us to survive & evolve into who we are today?

    Last edited 24/05/13 1:04 pm

      cos he had a gun?

      Ok, seriously, that is a concerning psychotic comment. Please seek out help, the picture of the person painted by the comment gives me pause.

      Lets see you be the first person to run at a person with a knife let alone a gun. Bet your tune would change if you were in that situation.

      I think the difference is that the crowd were not related, nor were they part of a familial tribe - and that's the driver behind the behavior you're talking about.

      Monash University, Clayton Campus, VIC, late semester 2, 2003. A guy brought 4 handguns into his class, and wIth the first shots at point blank range; killed the 2 people sitting in front of him, and wounded the tutor. Before it became a full blown massacre, like it did in Virginia Tech a few years later, one of his classmates immediately tackled him, followed by the injured tutor, and then other staff & students who assisted in restraining him until police arrived.
      I was in another room, a few floors above, when the shooting took place. I do know that when those people took the courage to attack the shooter, they saved their own lives, and all the people who were nearby when the shooting took place - including me.

      We may never know - but if I do find myself in a shooting, I hope I will try to stop the shooter any way I can, and help to protect people - instead of bolting like a rabbit, trampling over other people, and getting shot in the back. If I'm psychotic for thinking so, what do you make of the police officers who expose themselves to such dangers every day in the line of duty? Do you think it's their vest, their gun, or their very average paycheck, that motivates them - or could it be something else?

        because the majority of people are selfish cowards, panicky cowards, or just plain sheep who will follow the crowd, so if one person runs, all the sheep will run too. Those people who you said tackled the gunman? Those are rare exceptions.

    What a bunch of idiots. Tell us that they work!?!?. A smart police officer would show me the test fire, and the gun's self destruction. And then tell criminals to please make them on 3D printer. Tell us you made 3-4 and 2-3 exploded when fired. Thanks now everyone knows the gun works.

      with about half the penetration of a normal 380 ACP, they just proved it doesn't work very well. Stick with a metal $80 .380, you'll be much better off

    The Japanese bees that you mention are actually a really good analogy.
    Because only 1 out of every 100 hives attacked ever survive like that, and a colony of 1000 bees can be killed by two hornets in an hour.

    In addition, you idiotic fool; would your first reaction to hearing a gunshot be to run towards the shooter? If so, then you have a severe brain disease that inhibits your ability to examine danger in a senario.

    But given your bullshit argument, I think that kind of brain damage is the least of your worries.

      First - for science - I think the survival odds you mentioned are not correct for the native Japanese bees; where those odds are more appropriate for the European bees introduced into Japan as mentioned in this article here:
      The defensive behaviour of Japanese bees I was referring to can be explained in this article instead - and this blog post where author Jerry Coyne mentioned in his book that the Japanese bees "usually survive" hornet attacks by using that strategy. No survival odds are mentioned - but, given the amount of attention naturalists & scientists are giving the bees in other scientific journals, I'd say their survival rate is probably higher than 1 hive out of 100.

      Second - do you mean to say that you consider a police officer or a paramedic rushing to assist at the scene of a shooting to be brain damaged or an idiotic fool?
      Yes, police officers and soldiers have been conditioned to resist panic, and respond appropriately through proper training and experience... but could some of that conditioning be imparted & fostered in ordinary people who want to protect their family & friends?
      Such thinking may be an important step to stop the growing number of people who get the impression that having a gun (and now 'printing' one) somehow gives them irresistible power to intimidate & harm other people.

        Police officers rushing towards gunshots are armed.
        I can't imagine a paramedic rushing up to an armed attacker still firing.

    This is why (well one of the reasons) we can't have nice things (such as 3D printers).

    You can just see 3D printers being banned and requiring a licence.. can't you?

      From this article it seems police in Aus are not thinking to go down that line

        he 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.

        If they passed a specific law, regarding this application. that would be one step along the road to regulating this technology... I pointed out above that there is no need for any new laws, this problem is all solved by the current statute, Just as the crushing of many millions of guns in Australia in the 1990's didn't really stem the flow of illegal guns into the country...

        Police Just need to do the Policing, and stop being social engineers, the average person has no inclination to random acts of antisocial behaviour.

        The last 24 hours in London has shown some of the problems when people flip... Who needs guns.

        Last edited 25/05/13 12:15 pm

    We all know that gun laws were a symbolic gesture to stop the law abiding citizens from owning weapons, not criminals.

    So... is the DPP preparing charges against the police force members that illegally manufactured a firearm?

      Q does not need a license. He is the license.

      There are no words to describe how silly this comment sounds.

    Funny the police worry about this,because there hasn't been any gun crime in australia with regular weapons in the past few years anyway...

    The printed gun will work just fine with .22 rimfire ammunition, and you can reinforce the barrel with 2 or 3 wraps of #92 or 69 kevlar thread for extra strength. Or you could use an engineering plastic for asepperate barrel. Everyone has a right to defend themselves and their liberty, If the communist chinese scum can have guns why can't freemen?

    the printable gun syndrome is highly worrying and the governments of the world should take the United Kingdoms view on firearms and make possession of any manufactured component part of a firearm, a firearm in its own right and have some very stiff prison sentences for anyone who decides to manufacture any part of these guns. Something that the governments of the world should do is license all these 3d printers and have a black box recorder type thing in side these printers linked in to the government computers that will trigger and notify the authorities if someone tries to print any thing like a firearm. They can be traced electronically and relevant punishments issued to the culprit. Don't get me wrong there is a place for properly controlled guns in the world for the general public and this market is already being fulfilled by the worlds gun manufacturers, and laws are in place to properly regulate the legal ownership of these firearms. The so called liberator is only being produced for mindless murder in gangland style shootings or this will be its use. There will be no serial numbers printed on these weapons and no traceability unlike conventional guns made by recognised manufacturers, which at least in the UK have traceable owners. Unlike the printable liberator cant just be disassembled and the printable part slung on a fire so no traceability. These measures mentioned above need to be adopted by all governments now and laws made to combat these threats not only to save human lives but also to save the legal gun manufacturers markets and ultimately there businesses and ultimately produce wealth for the country of origin of the manufacturer raise via taxation of the firearms manufacturer and also allow people to keep highly skilled jobs within these countries. From a legal gun trade member

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