What is behind the trend to use 3D technology to make guns?

“You only need the weekend and $ 50 for the goods.”

That was the advice of the German neo-Nazi Stephan Baliet, who was sentenced to life in prison on October 9, 2019 for attempting to attack a synagogue in Hale, killing two people.

The 27-year-old was pointing to 3D printed guns. In the same post, on the now-defunct left-right message board, Meguka, Baliet wrote a few minutes before the attack. I prefer a simple, direct experiment. ”

He then posted a link to a live broadcast on Twitter, which spread the gun attack.

In addition to his goal of “killing as many anti-whites as possible,” Baliett said in a manifesto posted in Meghaka that he “wants to ensure the capacity of advanced weapons.”

Among the weapons caches in Halle was a machine gun with 3D printed plastic parts, such as magazines and handles.

Balleett’s attack is seen as a breakthrough in right-wing “extremist” cases, the first attacker to make and use a 3D-printed device by many experts.

3D printed guns are on the rise in Europe as part of the fight against extremism [Philip Boyce/Forensic Equity]

The world’s first gun, made by 3D printer, was introduced in the United States by 25-year-old gun rights activist Cody Wilson.

Philip Boys, a British and weapons expert, said that 3D-printed rifles from the UK-based Forensic Equipment Company remained “identical and similar,” although there are different designs now, but have improved since then.

Guns are no longer the only thing that can be produced from a 3D printer, Boys said.

“You may have a fully automatic AR15 rifle, or a fully automatic AK47. “Normally, those fully automatic devices are made of metal barrels, but the rest are plastic.”

3D printed guns are becoming ‘more accessible’

Since 2019, the number of arrests and offenses against people trying to download and test their own 3D printed guns in many European countries and elsewhere has increased. So far, most of them seem to have the right links, experts say.

In April of this year, Spanish police raided a workshop in the Canary Islands in Santa Cruz de Tenerif, producing 3D printing equipment. They recovered two 3D printers, a duplicate rifle, and several rifles. Officers say they have found manuals on urban insurgency and white supremacy literature. The owner of the workshop was arrested with an illegal firearm.

Since 2019, people who have tried to download and / or attempt to download their own 3D printed weapons have been arrested and charged with felony criminal mischief. [Philip Boyce/Forensic Equity]

The following month, two men and a woman were arrested in connection with an investigation into “right-wing terrorism” in Kigali, England, police said. All three were charged with possession of 3D printed rifles. One of the suspects will be charged with distributing an image of the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McWein.

And in June, a 15-year-old English girl from Derbyshire was charged with six counts of terrorism, including instruction in how to make a 3D printer.

“The technology is becoming more accessible,” said Rajin Basra, a senior researcher at the International Center for Radiation Alignment Studies at London College.

Basra also said that the Bilelet attack in Hale “has helped to promote the idea that you can do something yourself, including accessing Internet sites where plans can be made.”

“There are many right-wing communities online that share this article,” he added.

Boys acknowledges that there is a growing trend from forensic equality, criminals and right-wing “extremists” in the production of 3D printers.

This is a serious matter because it is very difficult for criminals to find a real gun in the UK. But my co-workers at the Metropolitan Police told me that they see a lot of 3D printed guns, ”said Boys.

In a statement to Al Jazeera, the UK’s National Crime Agency said it was “working closely with partners to curb the presence of illegal firearms in the UK and closely monitoring the impact of 3D guns and their special vulnerabilities.”

So far, left-wing extremists have been arrested and convicted of producing 3D printed rifles. [Philip Boyce/Forensic Equity]

Worrying about the future

But in a world where almost anything can be bought, why would criminals find it harder to make a gun than to pay only one?

Basra says it’s all about destination.

To buy a gun, at least in Europe, you need access to the illegal arms market – and not all connections give you that access. So you have to come up with alternatives.

“Either replace the empty gun or print a 3D rifle,” Boys said. And it costs you less than a few pounds to produce a 3D printed rifle that works well financially.

But if you want to, you can get a pistol or a black market charger somewhere in the ፓ 5,000 range. [$6,950] For the real. ”

Basra warns of increasing use of unarmed plastic guns could be a foregone conclusion for attacks in Europe.

“This is a real anxiety,” he said. Referring to prisoners in Spain and the United Kingdom, he said: “The good news is that the police force in Europe has changed.”

But perhaps, it is one of the storms of the future.


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