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UK Police Seize 3D-Printed 'Gun Parts,' Which Are Actually Spare Printer Parts

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the well-played-boys dept.

Crime 279

nk497 writes "Police in Manchester have arrested a man and seized what they claim are 3D printed components to a gun. They made the arrest after a 'significant' discovery of a 3D printed 'trigger' and 'magazine,' saying they were now testing the parts to see if they were viable. 3D printing experts, however, said the objects were actually spare parts for the printer. 'As soon as I saw the picture... I instantly thought, "I know that part,"' said Scott Crawford, head of 3D printing firm Revolv3D. 'They designed an upgrade for the printer soon after it was launched, and most people will have downloaded and upgraded this part within their printer. It basically pulls the plastic filament, and it used to jam an awful lot. The new system that they've put out, which includes that little lever that they're claiming is the trigger, is most definitely the same part.'"

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over-reaction? (5, Funny)

Custard Horse (1527495) | about a year ago | (#45232887)

FTFA: "The man was also arrested on suspicion of making gunpowder"

He was probably making coffee...

Re:over-reaction? (3, Funny)

Ralph Michael De Leon (3387837) | about a year ago | (#45232899)

That actually wasn't a 3D printer it was a pillow.

Re:over-reaction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45232951)

That actually wasn't a 3D printer it was a pillow.

Don't let your guard down.

The pillow was made in China, which borders Afghanistan. He looks pretty guilty to me.

Re:over-reaction? (2)

Thanshin (1188877) | about a year ago | (#45233055)

And, as they 'significantly' discovered later, the man wasn't actually a man.

Re:over-reaction? (4, Funny)

RDW (41497) | about a year ago | (#45232917)

This is England, so it was probably tea. It's an easy mistake to make: []

Re:over-reaction? (3, Funny)

auric_dude (610172) | about a year ago | (#45232977)

Barista seeks Barrister?

Re:over-reaction? (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about a year ago | (#45232983)

seing as a trigger is nothing but a lever in most cases, and a detent with a nice finger surface in really fancy cases, i'd say that declaring that someone who has made a trigger can easily fashion it into a firearm is something of an exageration.

the magazine on the otherhand... a box, a spring, and a plate... now THAT is truly terrifying!

Re:over-reaction? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45233323)

It's also worth pointing out that there is absolutely nothing illegal about triggers or magazines in the UK. My father owns several deactivated guns, all of which have real metal gun triggers (not simply trigger shaped bits of plastic) and at least one has a magazine. These are legal and have been certified as properly deactivated yet that process does not involve doing anything to damage/limit those components. (Chambers on a revolver are blocked as part of the process however.)

So if it's not illegal to own real triggers and magazines, why is it illegal to make plastic things that look like them? Actual construction of a firearm out of plastic gun shaped bits should be illegal in a country where firearms are illegal of course. This is similar to black powder guns, or guns of obsolete calibre (for which ammo is not readily available), these do not need to be deactivated however if you make or acquire ammo for them from somewhere then you're in trouble.

Toy guns and fabric softener? (4, Insightful)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about a year ago | (#45233529)

Also, if a plastic trigger is illegal, that would make every plastic toy gun, every water pistol, every cap gun, illegal. And every seller, maker, importer guilty of manufacturing/importing/distributing illegal firearm parts.

Nearly every cleaner, weed-spray, bug-spray bottle in my laundry has a trigger on it. []

Re:over-reaction? (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about a year ago | (#45233467)

So you typed this message on a keyboard? Oh my god, that means he has fingers... he could fire a gun! Police, arrest this man!

Re:over-reaction? (2)

mrspoonsi (2955715) | about a year ago | (#45233045)

In other news, a 80 year old grandmother has been released today when it was found that a supposed rocket launcher was just an umbrella stand.

It is hardly a gun if all it consisted of was a trigger and magazine. A hammer and nail is much more dangerous (assuming you had ammunition).

Re:over-reaction? (3, Funny)

paiute (550198) | about a year ago | (#45233089)

I'm hearing every comment in this thread in the officious voice of the late Graham Chapman.

Re:over-reaction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45233697)

Stop that! It's silly!

Re:over-reaction? (1)

Jamu (852752) | about a year ago | (#45233113)

Making gunpowder is a crime? I may or may not remember making gunpowder after school. Does this law date from 1605?

Re:over-reaction? (3, Informative)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about a year ago | (#45233389)

I may or may not remember making gunpowder after school.

After that explosion, it's hard to remember anything really.

Re:over-reaction? (1)

gweihir (88907) | about a year ago | (#45233189)

And rightfully so! Gunpowder is a monopoly of fireworks and ammunition makers. Making it yourself is a crass example of copyright terrorism! Had he bough a few large firecrackers and opened them, he would have been alright.

Re:over-reaction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45234039)

Recipes can't be copyrighted.

Yeah.... Woosh!

I get the sarcasm... I just think it was somewhat deflated by using terminology that would never have been applicable even if making it were illegal.

Re:over-reaction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45233197)

At least the didn't murder [] him.

Re:over-reaction? (2)

durrr (1316311) | about a year ago | (#45234241)

Gunpowder tea

PC Plod does it again! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45232913)

What a bunch of fucking bellends.

Oh god (4, Insightful)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about a year ago | (#45232923)

...the U.K. has found another moral panic. Everybody pop some popcorn, asinine laws are about to get passed and massive propaganda campaigns will be starting. Fun for the whole family, as long as you don't live there and as long as it doesn't spread here.

Last time I remember one of these "weapons" related knives, it was during the post-handgun knifing sprees, and the gov't managed to spin up its citizens so much with their knife amnesty programs that people were turning in unsharpened movie prop fantasy knives, kitchen utensils, and yard tools afraid they were going to get prosecuted for owning lethal weaponry.

We'll see what they come up with for 3D printers. Maybe plastic/printer amnesty days

Re: Oh god (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about a year ago | (#45232931)

"Weapons" related campaigns*, not knives

Re:Oh god (4, Insightful)

_KiTA_ (241027) | about a year ago | (#45233095)

Lets not forget a major part of this panic is due to old manufacturing companies starting to realize that if we can print something for 5 cents, then why would we pay $5 for it?

While we're not at that point yet, we certainly will be in 5 years. In 10-15 years, we'll be able to print iPods. Once that happens... why buy an iPod, when you can download a crowd-engineered alternative that's better and cheaper?

I expect some form of faux outrage to ramp up and 3D printing to be banned or seriously restricted soon. It's too disruptive for us us mere plebeians to be allowed to have.

Re:Oh god (3, Informative)

qbast (1265706) | about a year ago | (#45233221)

Yeah, it's just like with movies and music - nobody wants content owned by big labels anymore because free stuff from garage bands is so much better. Oh wait, they don't and almost all downloaded music is actually pirated stuff.

Re:Oh god (5, Funny)

tmosley (996283) | about a year ago | (#45234139)

I was about to make a comment about how modern music is garbage, and that people only download the stuff made a long time ago and probably that they already owned at some point, but then I realized that there are a bunch of damn kids on my lawn again.

Re:Oh god (5, Interesting)

harrkev (623093) | about a year ago | (#45233287)

Printing an iPod??? Not a chance. Printing an iPod case? Sure.

Sorry, you cannot print electronics. Well, you *CAN* (some have experimented with this), but your iPod would have the size and consistency of a phone book. Even a simple processor these days consists of tens of millions of transistors. Same for memory.

I can envision two scenarios for printing electronics:

1) Print just the board yourself. This is certainly feasible, eventually. However, assembly of something the level of a iPod requres soldering which simply cannot be done at home. Try soldering a BGA with 1,000 pins. This CAN be done is a toaster oven (but not by beginners), but requires a lot of knowledge to get it to work. Add in memory, caps, resistors, etc., and the odds of getting something out without any defects seems unlikely.

2) Print the entire circuit yourself. It is possible to print transistors, but not to the scale needed. I would guestimate that thousands of transistors on a sheet of paper would be possible, but that is still a far way off from printing millions. Modern transistors can most closely be compared in size to a red blood cell. That sort of scale is difiicult to achieve with billions of dollars of equipment.

Printing of electronics will be awesome when it comes, but it will have limits. Expect some fantastic hobbyist inventions, but it will not be able to even come close to commercial products.

Re:Oh god (1)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | about a year ago | (#45233357)

people were turning in unsharpened movie prop fantasy knives, kitchen utensils, and yard tools afraid they were going to get prosecuted for owning lethal weaponry

Yeah, those, and also real Klingon Bat'leths [] (I mean, with actual sharpened edges that could take someones head off). Along with machetes and lots of other things that typically aren't needed in suburban Britain.

I would expect panics about people 3D printing guns to be relatively commonplace in the UK and throughout Europe in future. Being an island, the UK has had a particularly effective form of gun control that has seen criminal gangs reduced to trying to make their own ammo and weapons, often shittily and resulting in much less lethal weapons than those professionally made. Random shootings are extremely rare. However plenty of Brits read the newspapers and see how the USA experiences lethal shootings seemingly every day at the moment, which is completely insane. Now I read that children as young as 12 are shooting their teachers.

Everyone in the UK knows that it tends to experience a lot of US "cultural imports", and basically nobody I know there would want to see US-style gun crime. So gun controls are likely to remain popular and if it takes licensing of 3D printing equipment to enforce that, it won't surprise me at all to see such a thing be implemented.

Re:Oh god (3, Insightful)

cyberchondriac (456626) | about a year ago | (#45233725)

There's no such thing as a "real" Klingon Bat'leth, for starters. Second, those kinds of weapons are props and do not hold an edge very well. Swords made for Renaissance faires are well known not be to be up to actual battle standards. But what's to stop someone from putting some nails in a cricket bat and going to town on someone with that? Going to ban cricket too? How about wood saws and hacksaws? Axes? Hatchets? Sledge hammers?

Re:Oh god (1)

pr0fessor (1940368) | about a year ago | (#45234127)

I'm not sure you can lump the entire US into a single cultural box. Although we may share federal laws and a single language, states that border each other will likely be very similar, but as you put more distance between the states you are comparing they become more dissimilar. The US is roughly 9 million km2 and Europe is roughly 10 million km2.

When I hear people talk about US or American culture I often times find myself thinking maybe in some other state {over 1,000 miles away} but not here.

Re:Oh god (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45233363)

I'd say "Oh, Britain...", but I've seen the same stupid police propaganda here in Canada.
When we hosted the G20 conference, police confiscated what they claimed were "incendiary arrows" but were actually foam-tipped arrows used by LARPers. They stuck to the story well after their actual purpose was confirmed, since it made a better story than "we fucked up."
I suspect that's how it will play out in this case, too. You don't get to play soldier and you don't get your budget raised by confiscating printer parts.

Re:Oh god (3, Insightful)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about a year ago | (#45233525)

Foam tips... could catch on fire... Incendiary arrows! Police, arrest this man!

Wait, the schoolyard that only allows nerf toys is in Toronto! Arrest those children, immediately!

55 Terrorist plots foiled (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45233443)

So now we're up to 55 terrorist plots foiled! I bet he downloaded the plans to lots of thing, including a gun, decided what to print, and GCHQ monitored that URL to sent the police after him.

Hurrah for mass surveillance!

If he hadn't made the gun yet, he was sure to make it and kill small children, so GCHQ can add 1 to the terrorist plots foiled!

Move along citizen, nothing to see here.

Re:Oh god (2)

RogueyWon (735973) | about a year ago | (#45233477)

Our police (I'm British) do seem to be on a bit of a PR flurry at the moment, trying to get headlines by puffing up raids and arrests in response to whatever the moral panic of the day is.

A cynic might suspect that it's related to a general crisis of confidence in them, relating to:

- several years of stories about the doctoring of crime statistics
- violent over-reactions in some public order situations
- attempted cover-ups of said over-reactions
- catastrophic under-reactions in other (genuinely dangerous) public order situations
- the sale of confidential information to certain journalists
- a brazen attempt to "stitch up" the career of a Government minister they didn't like (not a very likeable one, but that's not the point), through a series of increasingly barefaced lies
- increasingly silly uniforms (admittedly that one not really their fault)

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a general anti-police rant. I know that most of them are honest and do their best in a bloody awful job, in a country where even serial burglars routinely get community sentences (primarily the fault of successive government policies, with courts also sharing some of the blame). But there are plenty of signs that British policing in general is at a real low ebb right now and desperately reaching for all of the positive news stories it can get.

Re:Oh god (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about a year ago | (#45233779)

That board with a nail in it may have defeated us.

But the humans won't stop there. They'll make bigger boards and bigger nails, and soon, they will make a board with a nail so big, it will destroy them all!

Kudos to the police for realizing... (3, Funny)

Godwin O'Hitler (205945) | about a year ago | (#45232927)

...a 3D gun is much more likely to be viable than a picture of a gun.

"During the searches, officers found a 3D printer and what is suspected to be a 3D plastic magazine and trigger which could be fitted together to make a viable 3D gun.
It they are found to be viable components for a 3D gun, it would be the first ever seizure of this kind in the UK."

Re:Kudos to the police for realizing... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#45232973)

I'm pretty sure you could design a gun that would use those parts somehow, so the police have lots of busy nights with cad to make them not seem stupid...

Re:Kudos to the police for realizing... (1)

Sun (104778) | about a year ago | (#45233187)

Any chance they'll open source it? Might be better than the currently circulating CADs.


Re:Kudos to the police for realizing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45233051)

Apparently if you fit a trigger to a magazine you have a gun!

Someone teach me how to do this, I'm interested in how you actually fire ammunition without a barrel, receiver, and firing pin.

Re:Kudos to the police for realizing... (3, Informative)

mark_reh (2015546) | about a year ago | (#45233271)

I'll teach you how to make a better "gun" than you can with a 3D printer.
1) gather components: a bullet, a block of wood, a rock.
2) drill a hole through the block of wood that matches the diameter of your bullet.
3) place bullet in the hole in the block of wood. Congratulations, you're done.
Fire the "gun" by hitting the back side of the bullet with the rock.

The "gun" described above doesn't require a 3D printer, knowledge of CAD software or metallurgy.

Re:Kudos to the police for realizing... (1)

mark_reh (2015546) | about a year ago | (#45233289)

Oh yeah, one more thing- if you use your imagination, that block of wood with a hole in it can used to smoke weed, so now you have not only made a weapon, you've also made drug paraphernalia.

Use with caution!

Re:Kudos to the police for realizing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45233835)

One question:

If I don't use my imagination, can I still smoke weed through it?

Re:Kudos to the police for realizing... (4, Funny)

Zemran (3101) | about a year ago | (#45233543)

You need special glasses to fire a 3D gun and only people wearing those glasses can get shot by one.

Re:Kudos to the police for realizing... (3, Insightful)

Feyshtey (1523799) | about a year ago | (#45233755)

Yes. And a 3D gun that's exponentially more viable is as easily created by a water jet cutter, or plasma cutter, or oxyfuel cutter, or a laser cutter. Any of which requires roughly the same level of training to utilize as a home 3D printer. Granted those technologies are much more expensive, but there are 1000's of them in use in machine shops in the US and Europe. All one needs is the file that defines the part, and the ability to access the machinery.

Now you may be able to argue that the ease of access to home 3D printers makes it possible for more whacko's to get their hands on printed guns. But they will have shitty little pea shooters that might work once without blowing up in their faces. Whereas the 10s of 1000s of machine shop owners/employees out there are just as likely to be whacko's, and capable of producing things much more dangerous than some idiot in his basement. You're worried about a 15 round magazine being printed? How about a vulcan cannon?

Hell, a marginally talented machinist with knowledge of firearms can make a damn effective weapon out of some pipe, using a lathe and a drill.

So where's the moral outrage against the people with machine shops? Cutters? Drills? Maybe laws should be passed to regulate the purchase of pipes?

The guy that fixes your uber eco bicycle as every tool he needs to kill you and everyone within 50 feet of you. But you are freaking out about a chunk of plastic.

Gun Control Nuts... (1)

clonehappy (655530) | about a year ago | (#45232947)

Bigger authoritarians than the "gun nuts". Hopefully this shit stays on the other side of the pond.

Re:Gun Control Nuts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45234211)

If you think they are "just nuts", you haven't read The Guardian yet. I find it hilarious that a UK newspaper is constantly pushing through both its UK and US editions for gun control in the US, but then again, The Grauniad's political agenda is pretty crazy and pays little attention to reality.

Legislation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45232969)

I guess they won't be banned 3D printers just yet then, although the BBC is still going with suspected "homemade" gun components [] . A few MPs with connections with the manufacturing industry will, no doubt, be disappointed.

Perhaps No Accident? (1)

lubaciousd (912505) | about a year ago | (#45232971)

In the internet age where transferring music and media without destroying the original copy has predominated retail acquisition, 3D Printers have the potential to reduce nearly every object imaginable to information about fabrication, effectively IP. The prospect of being hypothetically capable of 3D printing a gun seems to be almost as frightening to authorities as the finished product itself. Will we see more 'confusion' by authorities who have trouble discriminating between legitimate uses and those that make them paranoid? It does seem like this would have an intimidating effect on people considering a purchase of a 3D printer.

Re:Perhaps No Accident? (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | about a year ago | (#45233151)

Lathes, CNC cutters, drills, milling machines, and so on, all of this stuff while a tad on the expensive side, is not out of reach. There are also untold numbers of machine shops around the place.

I think this entire incident is more about pure stupidity and lack of common sense. The tools exist for the common human and have done for centuries. The sky isn't falling.

Re:Perhaps No Accident? (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | about a year ago | (#45233301)

Comparing a lathe, CNC cutter, mill, etc to a 3d printer is like comparing assembly language to Visual Studio. Sure, you can use both to create the same thing, but you're just either naive or being intentionally thickheaded if you refuse to believe that the latter opens up that capability to a much larger group of people.

More Apt than you think? (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about a year ago | (#45233421)

Personally, I'd compare it more between C++ and visual basic scripting. While it does indeed take more knowledge to operate the lathes and such, currently that tool set can produce far more capable devices, and I'd imagine that at least the CNC cutter shouldn't be that much more complicated to program than the printer.

With the printer you can make a 'liberator' type firearm - a single shot weapon that you MIGHT be able to reuse the trigger group for.
With the machine shop equipment you can churn out full auto M-3 'grease guns' for not much more money than the plastic in the liberator.

Re:Perhaps No Accident? (1)

Feyshtey (1523799) | about a year ago | (#45234141)

All one needs to build a functional firearm is a drill and some extraordinarily mundane materials from any local hardware store. Oh, and the ability to read. And that weapon is far more likely to kill the target rather than the shooter, when compared to anything coming out of a 3D printer.

If you actually think that 3D printers are what makes it possible for a larger group of people to get weapons, you have demonstrated your depth of ignorance on the topic of firearms. Which is really the whole problem; people who have no clue whatsoever about firearms, and foist that ignorance onto equally ignorant politicians who create ill-concieved knee-jerk laws.

Re:Perhaps No Accident? (1)

RayHs (888369) | about a year ago | (#45234281)

If someone produces a 3D printer that can print bullets and eject them in a desired direction with a desired velocity, would the printer qualify as a gun? Would a keyboard then qualify as a trigger?

smug retribution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45232975)

who has the crazy gun laws now?!
  -- USA

Re:smug retribution (2)

qbast (1265706) | about a year ago | (#45233229)

Week later: 20 kids gunned down in another school massacre in USA. "Crazy" depends on what you want laws to achieve.

Re:smug retribution (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year ago | (#45233579)

Unfortunately you can't just legislate it away. That doesn't work, has never worked, and will never work. Doesn't stop them from trying, though.

I'm not going to get into it beyond that though - I'm not an expert, but it doesn't take an expert to recognize that something is broken. I really don't think just taking them away is the answer. As other incidents have spotlit, the act will not change, only the tools. Children (and adults too) committing violence against their peers and authority figures is the symptom, the gun (or knife etc) is just the vehicle, and the real problem is something else that I can't really identify personally. People are losing hope, getting restless, frustrated, and angry. We need to determine (and fix) the cause of that, not the results. But good luck with that, because the people in charge only care about looking like they are fixing things. Which only compounds the problem.

Re:smug retribution (1)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | about a year ago | (#45233705)

I think it was just last week a 14 year old shot another student, a teacher, then himself. Parents gun that wasn't properly stored or locked that a kid had access to. Negligence causing death, I hope it means jail time for both of the parents.

Simple solution (1)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | about a year ago | (#45232979)

So what they're saying is that we can use replacement printer parts to make guns?

Speaking as a Brit (5, Funny)

sa1lnr (669048) | about a year ago | (#45232987)

I love that the Greater Manchester Police site has suffered the curse of slashdot. :)

Re:Speaking as a Brit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45233069)

The web is truly mightier than the 3D-printed ersatz gun part.

Re:Speaking as a Brit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45233147)

Great, now we'll all be arrested for contributing the the DDoS attack.

Re:Speaking as a Brit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45233313)

Naw... it will be easier just to keep the poor guy detained for operating a botnet and initiating cyber-attacks on their website.

Re:Speaking as a Brit (5, Funny)

daremonai (859175) | about a year ago | (#45233149)

If this is what the Greater Manchester Police are like, I'd hate to meet up with the Lesser ones.

Sounds like another case (1)

msobkow (48369) | about a year ago | (#45232999)

Sounds like another case of the WMD aluminum tubes they found in Iraq, which were way too weak to be used for a centrifuge for enriching uranium. But it was a good enough excuse for the US to go to war.

"But we have tubes!!!"

Re:Sounds like another case (1)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#45233043)

"But we have tubes!!!"

They were obviously planning on making their own Internet.

Re:Sounds like another case (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#45233481)

It's a good thing they never got them conected in a series!

Re:Sounds like another case (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45233927)

But I thought you needed a truck to do that?

It ALMOST looks like a hammer (1)

PseudoCoder (1642383) | about a year ago | (#45233023)

Except it's missing the hook that catches the trigger. I understand that UK cops don't really carry firearms, so they may not really be trained in the inner workings of different guns. I don't know much about what their training standards are, but I'd say it's an easy mistake to make for those who don't disassemble firearms very often. See below: []

Re:It ALMOST looks like a hammer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45233067)

You'd think if they raided someone's home looking for firearms, that maybe they'd have taken some officers with firearms along.

Re:It ALMOST looks like a hammer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45233181)

Doesn't necessarily mean those officers know anything about guns either...

I'll bet they have some SAS armourer they turn their firearms into at the end of the day who does all the cleaning and maintenance.

Re:It ALMOST looks like a hammer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45233257)

I don't know much about what their training standards are

Essentially none. My younger brother has just joined the Met', and the training standard is pretty much "if it looks gun-ish, treat it as a gun and call in the firearms guys. You're not trained to handle firearms, and any you DO encounter are likely to be in such poor condition that they could discharge with little provocation, so even if you have some experience with firearms don't handle them".

Re:It ALMOST looks like a hammer (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#45233335)

I suspect that it's more about the fact that hysteria sells than genuine cluelessness.

PCSOs and not-otherwise-alarmed officers don't routinely carry firearms; but 'Authorized Firearms Officers', potentially any officers with the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and various other entities here and there, do, so it's not as though the necessary expertise isn't an internal phone call away, at most.

(The, um, unimpressive... build quality and design standards of 3d printed weapons may also be a factor: if you are hunting parts for firearms that are made out of shitty plastic, to a level of quality that would shame your average zipgun and make a 'saturday night special' look like some sort of futuristic H&K design concept, you may be inclined to consider the absence of 'normal' features to be mere shodiness, rather than a sign that it's a different part entirely.)

Re:It ALMOST looks like a hammer (1)

PseudoCoder (1642383) | about a year ago | (#45233685)

(The, um, unimpressive... build quality and design standards of 3d printed weapons may also be a factor: if you are hunting parts for firearms that are made out of shitty plastic, to a level of quality that would shame your average zipgun and make a 'saturday night special' look like some sort of futuristic H&K design concept, you may be inclined to consider the absence of 'normal' features to be mere shodiness, rather than a sign that it's a different part entirely.)

Yes, a maker-whatever 3D printer in your garage cannot be expected to make a decent firearm, even by the most liberal definition of a firearm, but it is enough to make a drop-in auto sear conversion to modify an existing semi-auto to full auto that would at least be good for one spray in a drive-by. Then print as many as you like. That's what a more practical criminal mind would be inclined to do.

Thank god (1)

mythix (2589549) | about a year ago | (#45233031)

Luckily, they didn't go all Amercian on his ass and shot him on sight []

Re:Thank god (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45233103)

That's only because British cops don't carry guns.

Re:Thank god (3, Informative)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about a year ago | (#45233193)

Well, mostly they dont. This is a good thing, given that they shot some guy for carrying a table-leg (thought it was a gun), and another for being on the underground (obviously an act of terrorism - only terrorists would go underground).

Re:Thank god (1)

Sun (104778) | about a year ago | (#45233233)

I think it is beyond dispute that the kid was carrying something that looked like a gun. If the policemen's story is to be believed (I know it's a stretch, but still), then the kid refused to drop it when told to. Under those circumstances, a policeman can justifiably say he felt threatened to the point of shooting.

I file that story under "tragic misunderstanding" rather than "homicidal police".


Re:Thank god (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | about a year ago | (#45233729)

Could you, an untrained unpaid person with no body armor no partner and no backup on the way get away with killing a kid because he was holding something that looked like a gun? If so, why haven't you, do you like kids on your lawn?

Re:Thank god (1)

Sun (104778) | about a year ago | (#45234027)

Could you, an untrained unpaid person with no body armor no partner and no backup on the way get away with killing a kid because he was holding something that looked like a gun?

The laws of self defense, at least in my area of the world (Israel), let you go if the damage you inflicted is no greater than the damage it was reasonable to assume you might sustain (i.e. - a subjective test). The answer, therefor, is "absolutely yes". IANAL, of course.

If so, why haven't you, do you like kids on your lawn?

My 3yo does not play with pretend weapons (yet?). Answering your real question, though, it all boils down to how reasonable it is to feel threatened. About a decade and a half ago, there was a big terrorist attack during Purim, a Jewish holiday in which it is customary to wear customs. The next year there were a few incidents where children dressed as terrorist were harassed by police (though, as far as I remember, no one was shot). Considering the threat, I consider it reasonable.

I have held and fired rifles. I do not recall any toy I've seen, in a kid's hand or in the store, that looks as realistic as the toy in the link OP gave. That one would have fooled me, as well.

Which is not to say police necessarily acted properly. It all boils down to whether the kid acted as if he was about to use the weapon, on how clearly (if at all) they asked him to put it down, and on whether they properly identified themselves as police. I do not, however, fault them for assuming that was a real weapon.


Re:Thank god (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#45233345)

Luckily, they didn't go all Amercian on his ass and shot him on sight []

Kid was obviously some kind of foreign pinko sleeper agent. No Real American would be caught dead with a replica assault rifle, rather than the real thing.

How realistic are the fears? (2)

91degrees (207121) | about a year ago | (#45233047)

Is there really a risk of "organised crime groups" making plastic guns? My understanding is that the ones that have been made are more proof of concept than something that would actually be particularly useful. On the other hand, there are plenty of places in Europe where guns are available, and hundreds of people take the ferry (or Le Shuttle through the tunnel) to and from Europe every day so if you really want to get hold of them, it's not going to be difficult.

Do wonder why the police raided this guy in the first place. I assume they didn't just pick a house at random hoping they might find soemthing they can chage someone with.

Re:How realistic are the fears? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#45233281)

The main fear is the ip tracking and forum reading/web 2.0 surveillance. What more countries will offer is police and local low level bureaucrats court powers to watch, track and log via any national isp. As for 3d printing wait a year until new products with new tech are on sale as key patents slip.

Re:How realistic are the fears? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45233285)

Even if it is possible to print a fully working gun (which is a big "if") that's not a problem unless they can also print some ammo. Thankfully we're a while away from that point.

gun and ammo easily built at hardware store (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about a year ago | (#45233655)

It's easy to make the ammo (and the gun) from readily available materials found at your local hardware store.

The garden department has the three ingredients for black powder and the plumbing department has most of the rest . A few items like springs come from the hardware section.

Ammo is short piece of copper tube from plumbing, filled with black powder mixed in gardening, topped with whatever little chunk of metal - a short hex bolt would do fine.

Re:How realistic are the fears? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#45233415)

I suspect that ownership of a 3d printer (statistically) places you in the category of people who are approximately 45343465% more likely than the population at large to have done something on the internet(possibly from the command line) that would scare an AOL user, so they may have been sniffing after something in that vein.

As for practical criminal interest, though? Absolutely zero so far demonstrated, largely because it doesn't resolve any ammunition supply challenges (and anyone who can do that can probably get at least a pistol snuck through the same channels), and performance so low that hand-tools and hardware store metal stock are almost certainly still ahead in the DIY race, much less actual machine tools or smuggling of real guns.

Alive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45233059)

If a 3D printer can print 3D printers, is it by definition a living thing?

That just proves our point (1)

Sun (104778) | about a year ago | (#45233155)

Sure, the parts are not part of a 3D printed gun, but of the 3D printer itself, but with these parts the printer can be used to print a gun, which is what makes them so dangerous.

Re:That just proves our point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45233471)

Maybe the printer IS a gun. Perfect plausible deniability.

The process is the punishment (4, Insightful)

mc6809e (214243) | about a year ago | (#45233183)

They punish someone with the legal process, knowing they can't convict, but sending a message to anyone with a 3D printer that 3D printer owners can expect trouble from the state.

Re:The process is the punishment (4, Informative)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | about a year ago | (#45233527)

Is that meant to be a prediction, or a statement of fact? If you read the article it becomes clear that they had search warrants as part of a targeted investigation into organised crime, and apparently were surprised to discover the 3D printer at one of the searched areas. Given that they arrested someone because they think he was making gunpowder, and because you can't make gunpowder with a 3D printer, it seems that they believed (correctly) that someone was trying to manufacture ammo and got a judge to issue a warrant on that basis. When they discovered the printer, they made the obvious logical conclusion - someone who is illegally making guns, and has a 3D printer, might be experimenting with 3D printing plastic guns. What else would he use it for?

It may turn out in the course of events that the printer was used for something else, or making tools used to help make ammo rather than making gun parts, or something else. But ownership of the 3D printer is incidental. There isn't even any way they would know he had such a device, as far as I can tell.

Re:The process is the punishment (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45233675)

You're missing the reason why they raided this place originally. It wasn't because he was a guy who owned a 3d printer, it was because he was associated with criminal gangs in Manchester and they were raiding him and others to confiscate the proceeds of crime. This was one of the things they found, alongside ~$3.5m in counterfeit goods, $500k of drugs and $50k in cash and 50 people arrested.

When you find a 3d printer in the garage of a suspected gangster, you don't assume anything and investigate everything. Last year, a member of one of these Manchester gangs, already wanted for double murder, lured a couple of unarmed female cops to a house to investigate a break in, and then killed them with grenades. This is a fucked up part of the UK.

Police seize $1000 in Cash (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45233205)

Police seized $1000 dollars in cash due to the possibility of obtaining a gun with said cash.... source: future...

Re:Police seize $1000 in Cash (4, Interesting)

Justpin (2974855) | about a year ago | (#45233459)

Thats not funny, SOCPA 2005 prohibits carrying more than £2000 of cash on you without good reason with the penalty of forfeiture if you can't prove where it came from. In fact a few years ago the London police went for a smash and grab of safe deposit boxes, it was all declared illegal except people went and started claiming it back with receipts.

Breaking news! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45233259)

Wait until they realize you can fire rounds with pliers and a hammer.
Will they raid all hardware stores in the country and seize those dangerous "gun components" too?

The technical ineptness of this country... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45233493)

... it never ceases to amaze me.

Our government is just an old man's club.

He is lucky (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45233515)

that he didn't receive the de Menenzes treatment from the trigger happy ***********. After all, these jokers have killed a man carrying a table leg.

Happy I live in the US (1)

flyingfisch (3406027) | about a year ago | (#45233587)

Happy I live in te US, you need a warrant to arrest someone here. Oh, wait, we arrest without warrants too. []

Re:Happy I live in the US (2)

Gibgezr (2025238) | about a year ago | (#45234041)

Just pointing out what most folks are missing: hey had a warrant, which was not based on "look for 3D printed gun parts", but on other stuff related to the fact that this guy is a member of a criminal gang.

Are triggers and magazines controlled in the UK? (2)

cyn1c77 (928549) | about a year ago | (#45233935)

Is printing gun components illegal in the UK?

In the US, the only part of a gun that is controlled is the receiver. What are the laws in the UK?

It's hard to believe that making or owning a trigger is illegal in the UK since low-power pellets guns (which use triggers) are legal. That said, UK gun laws are so restrictive, that I am sure they try to control high-capacity magazines. (UK high-capacity meaning more than two rounds.)

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