You Can Go To Jail For Having The File For A 3D-Printed Gun

Ever downloaded the plans to print a gun with a 3D printer? Under new NSW laws, you could be up for a massive jail term.

The Firearms and Weapons Prohibition Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 passed the NSW Parliament last week, and states that anyone with a 3D print file for a gun can go to jail for up to 14 years.

The Bill will "create a new offence of possessing digital blueprints for the manufacture of firearms on 3D printers or electronic milling machines", and " amends the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 to create a new offence of possessing digital blueprints for the manufacture of prohibited weapons on 3D printers or electronic milling machines".

It's part of new legislation designed to crack down on gun crime in Australia. Those in possession of stolen guns are up for heavy fines, as well as those who modify identifying markings on guns in the state of NSW.

There are a few loopholes to the new 3D printed gun crackdown, however. The Bill allows for those with a specific license to produce 3D printed guns, and also exempts police officers from researching the weapons.

NSW Police have already conducted extensive research on 3D printed guns, test firing the original Liberator pistol back in 2013.



    great to see the laws are being updated to keep in step with technological innovations, but this line perplexes me - Those in possession of stolen guns are up for heavy fines <<< should there not be jail time as well? At the very least, its theft.

    Currently in NSW possession of a stolen (non-pistol) legal gun is 'unauthorised possession of a firearm' which is 5 years. Plus if you wanted to go down the road you could pin them for either 'Goods in custody reasonably suspected of being stolen or unlawfully obtained' or 'Deal in proceeds of crime'. Both of those offences are fairly minor in nature.

    The new offence section in this bill will create a new offence of possessing stolen firearms. Upping the maximum sentence for possession of stolen (non pistol) legal firearms (like .22 bolt action rifles) from 5 years to 14 years. This equals the current penalty for unauthorised possession of a pistol or prohibited firearm (like a fully automatic shotgun) which is already at 14 years.

    This is spectacular.... When will Australia implement Thought Police or Pre-crime?

      Do you have the same views about underage porn?

      This is just like that. If you have the files, at some point, you are going to kill someone or else you wouldn't have them.

      Even if you claim you have no intention of ever using them (so why have them in that case?) the state government in NSW is passing on the message that it is NOT OK for you to have these files and if you have them now, you should delete them. (but to be safe, do a complete sector-by-sector wipe of your hard drive, remove it, drill several holes through it (or you could just use that 3D printed gun you claim you don't have) and then dispose of it at your local council depot e-waste recycling day)

      Last edited 23/11/15 1:26 pm

        The two aren't anything alike.

        As much as I abhor their rampant availability in the US and believe that it is directly responsible for their homicides, guns are nonetheless a very interesting exercise in mechanical engineering, and a critical piece of history... possessing the files for educational purposes (especially if you create your own) should be protected.

        It's less like possessing child porn than it is possessing the blueprints to a bank vault, on the assumption that you are committing a crime because you obviously intend to use the blueprints to rob the bank. It's ludicrous.

        I think the exemption for research is way too narrow.

          There are other tools you could create 3D printed files for that will really help change the world.

          The way copyright law is going however, it would not surprise me if 3D printers were outlawed in pretty much every western nation within 10 years.

          If you open up exemptions like "educational purposes" suddenly you open up the floodgates for every other poor uni student struggling to make ends meet to be walking around with weapons holding up servos. I find that "ludicrous".

            There is a huge difference between having the tools to do something illegal and doing something illegal.

            Should martial-arts be outlawed? Because that's pretty much only useful for violence.

            Actions should be outlawed, not knowledge.

        hahahahaha great deductive reasoning there Sherlock!

        "you have a drawing of a gun? MURDERER!!"

        Last edited 23/11/15 6:36 pm

        This is just like thatReally??

        So this is like having a copy of the Bible makes you Christian, or reading the Koran makes you Muslim. You may not be one now, but if you have a copy of their holy book then at some point you're going to become one .... ludicrous.

        Likening anything to a clearly unrelated, and abhorrent subject like child porn, is a piss poor and obvious attempt to use social manipulation, rather than provide any logical reasoning to back up your fallacious argument.

        It's pointless anyway, as with anything digital it can just be encrypted, and as has been proven in the past, criminals are among the first to take advantage of counter surveillance technologies.

        Last edited 24/11/15 1:44 am

          You wouldn't possess a bible you have no intention of reading, therefore there is no reason to own these illegal 3D printing files unless you have an intention of printing them.

          The NSW govt has outlawed the ownership of these files, not me.

          Go talk to your local MP if you want to change it (good luck with that)

            but in that same context, I can't make a 3d design of a slide, or any firearm part to then have a licensed person make either. As I don't have the licence to make it, but I have a licence to have the firearm in question......

    This whole thing is interesting. I suspect this is a "visible policing" exercise as there were already laws punishing the manufacture of a prohibited weapon, and the prohibited weapons act is sufficiently broad to cover 3d printed weapons.

    "This is just like that. If you have the files, at some point, you are going to kill someone or else you wouldn't have them."

    Yes, because by owning a gun automatically assumes you are going to kill someone with it, as oppose to...say going to a shooting range for target practice, etc

      So, severly injuring yourself or the people next to you when your 3d printed gun eventually explodes?

      Because if you had a 3d printer capable of printing a non-exploding gun, you could afford to buy regular gun in the first place.


    "digital blueprints"

    Who's the out of touch old fart to come up with this term.
    If this is their legal term, NO ONE is going to get charged for possessing 3d model/STL files as they are not a blueprint by definition.

    This wouldn't be hard to get thrown out of court by technicality.

    Governments love to intimidate and create fear to control the masses...this is no more than an exercise in that direction

    I wonder if a FPS game manufacturer could be arrested for having originated a realistic model of a firearm that could conceivably be sent to a 3D printer and used as a replica?

    Who does this law apply to?

    Anyone within Australia or only residents of NSW?

      As with most criminal legislation, it's State based. These offences relate to NSW only.

    How far does this go in terms of file types? Is it any 3d file? What about 2d? The image on this very article is pretty detailed, any 3d modeller worth their salt can replicate the 3d model off that image alone. You don't need solid measurements either since you would know the size of your ammunition. Does this mean this article is breaking the law by sharing schematics for replicated guns?

    Perhaps change it to "Owning unlicensed usable firearms that fires live ammo, regardless of how they came into existence (Printed/ Forged/ Die cast/ built out of lego/ glued some macaroni, rubber bands and a paper clip into a gun shape) is against the law". Bam. This also protects you from those dastardly kids in preeschool building a gun out of paddlepop sticks.

      Yep, they already have that law covered. As you know, this law is just a feel-good exercise for some uninformed (also uniformed) servants of ours, "we" are their Bosses, "we the people" can tell them where to get off.. (Unfortunately the voting public isn't largely interested or informed.)

    So what happens when someone from outside Australia emails said 3D files to every NSW politician & then informs the authorities?

    Wouldn't it be fascinating if an unsolicited email containing an infringing 'digital blueprint' was sent to thousands of people in NSW (cc: NSW Police) ... therefore making each recipient an offender.

    So.. If I have a 3D file for a prototype Nerf Gun clone will I go to Jail? What if the 3D plan cannot produce lethal weapon? Does a 3D rotating view of a gun in a computer game count?

    A very strange law - I suspect (and hope) that it will be applied in a very specific way..

      No. A firearm has a specific definition within the Firearms Act (NSW), and basically it requires an explosive driven projectile. Nerf guns use compressed air or springs so you can print them to your heart's content.

        The intent of the legislation could be enlarged, or interpreted to include ANY prohibited weapon, as referenced on Schedule 1. Slippery Slope.

        Role players designing realistic latex weaponry may fall foul, oh damn that's already an offense under the heading of "replica weapons". (just paint it orange and it's all cool.)

          Any law can be 'enlarged' (read: changed) with an Act of Parliament... That's actually one of the definition features of codified legislation and has been one of the backbones of the western legal system since its inception in the late middle ages.

          To use that characteristic as a 'boogyman' stick is insulting to the people you're trying to scare. People aren't THAT dumb.

          News flash: Parliament can change laws at will! OMG! Really?! We're all going to die!

          Also, why would parliament bother to create a law making it illegal to make plans to 3D print a knife, or a slingshot, or knuckle dusters? ... That's just... I can't even... Seriously you're making my head hurt, stop it.

      LOL, a lot of toy weaponry can easily be reinforced/remanufactured and made capable of firing real ammunition. Fun for all ages.


    The image for this article could potentially violate the law. The Firearms and Weapons Prohibition Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 has not yet taken effect (so you're not in violation of it yet).

    In law, there is a concept of Extrinsic Material, where material that does not form part of an Act but which may assist in the interpretation of that Act can be used for statutory interpretation. One of the key items is Second Reading speeches in Parliament.

    For this Bill, the Second Reading in the NSW Legislative Council (the Upper House), states:

    "For the purposes of this section, digital blueprint means any type of digital (or electronic) reproduction of a technical drawing of the design of an object.", which arguably the image is.

    The use of it in this article is also not covered by one of the defences to the offence.

    So you don't get in trouble with the law, I suggest that you change the title image. That's how stupid this law it.

      Parliamentary readings are only used to aid a Court when the wording of legislation is vague or unclear. Otherwise the words are taken to mean either their definition as per the Act, their definition as per a similar Act, their normal dictionary meaning or their determined meaning as per a previous case from a superior Court.

      To think that the NSW Police would bother wasting their time on attempting to find every image of a firearm on the intertubes, prosecute the person and then have a Magistrate believe that the wording in the Act is unclear, then attempt to interpret the Act using the readings, then from those readings side with the stupid prosecution, then an appeal being lodged by defence, then having the Supreme Court or CCA again agree with the Magistrate is quite simply an utterly insane proposition.

      To say that the offence section is stupid because of the above reasoning is preposterous.

    I don't think the Legislators know what they are banning.

    An STL file, while by definition it is a stereolithography file, isn't limited in any way to being Used for 3D printing, it has long been used for transferring 3D designs between systems.

    Are all other forms of CAD file (which can be 3Dprinted at the "press of the 'magic' button") that may be of a firearm also banned??

    Does every professional who designs firearms-components need to be licensed to Use/operate/manufacture the class of firearms they are designing, even if they have no intent, or practical ability to take part in the manufacture or use of the weapon.
    (When exactly does a component become a firearm?)

    Sounds Crazy, the legislators are now seeming even less informed than they realise they are.

    Yep, time to start drafting and distributing detailed 3d designs of firearms just to make it all ubiquitous and redundant.

    To make a GUN, use "these" 3-4 metal components, which are readily available, do not need a 3D printer, and will work far better than any fused filament 3D printed gun demonstrated on the internet to date. Stupidity of the lawmakers knows no bounds.

    ps. Guns do need bullets (used in a loose term sense), and most people with a "3d printer" aren't chemists nor metalworkers, while if they were, this component/assembly would also be simple to manufacture.

      I'm sorry @md, but I've noted a number of your comments on this article and I do not believe that you know as much about this subject as you believe you do. It's like you've thumbed through a criminal law text book once and feel you have a good handle on how it works in the real world.

      Wording in criminal legislation is becoming more and more general, especially when it comes it technology as they have learnt from past mistakes of being overly specific. Take a look at the history of the common law offence of Larceny and then look at the Crimes Act (NSW) at all the other miscellaneous stealing offences (stealing a fence, stealing a rock, etc) that now have to exist because of the overly specific definition of stealing.

      Look at the legislative changes to fraud that took place 5 or so years ago to now include both obtaining a benefit and causing a disadvantage. Because before if you defrauded someone but stood to gain no benefit (other than for shits and giggles or because you just wanted to hurt someone) then you did not commit the offence of fraud.

      Nowdays offences talk about 'things' and 'acts or omissions' and seemingly other weird phrases. They do this, not because the NSW Law Reform Commission (made up of the State's top lawyers and Judges) who recommends these laws are dumb. But because they're specifically designed to be broad so that they capture the intent and give latitude to the Courts to interpret the offences as they were intended.

      This law that refers to 'blueprints' is a good example of this 'broad strokes' language. It is a common word that is easily defined in the dictionary and that, in all the given circumstances of a matter before the Court, can be fairly easily (and non-controversially) applied on a case-by-case basis.

      So yes, in the right circumstances it would include CAD files, or another 3D printer compatible filetype and it will hopefully include filetypes and distribution methods that have not yet been invented because unlike the ill-fated mobile phone laws that were introduced 20 odd years ago in the traffic legislation, you won't have the problem with having to change the law when a new device or service is introduced.

      md - I do not believe legislators are as dumb as you think nor do I believe that you are a smart as you think.

Join the discussion!