Nov 23, 2015 | By Alec

It looks like 3D printed guns are back on the agenda again. Just a few days ago, rumors about an EU-wide ban on ownership of blueprints for 3D printed guns surfaced, and now the state government of New South Wales have actually already implemented such a ban. In an amendment to the Firearms Act 1996 and the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998, the NSW state government has now incorporated a provision that specifically makes owning a 3D printed gun illegal. The maximum penalty? Fourteen years in jail.

This new amendment can be found in the Firearms and Weapons Prohibition Legislation Amendment Bill 2015, and is but one of a range of other firearms-related policy changes. It follows something of a trend in Australia, where lawmakers have been growing increasingly worried about 3D printed weapons – though New South Wales is the first state to actually pass legislation to counter the spread of 3D printed guns. The federal government has been inquiring into 3D print gun threats for some time now, while Queensland previously looked at legislation proposals to regulate 3D printed guns and schematics, but decided not to proceed with them. At the beginning of this year, a man in Queensland was arrested in a drug raid and also found to be in ownership of 3D printed gun parts. Most importantly – owning a 3D printed gun is already illegal.

But with this new ban, the Australia is thus also venturing into the digital information field and might have created a powerful precedent. As stated in the Firearms and Weapons Prohibition Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 itself, ‘A person must not possess a digital blueprint for the manufacture of a firearm on a 3D printer or on an electronic milling machine. Maximum penalty: imprisonment for 14 years.’ A digital blueprint itself is defined as any type of digital or electronic reproduction of a technical drawing of the object in question. Even possessing a computer or USB stick holding that information is thus illegal, as is having control of a blueprint that is held in someone else’s computer – even outside the jurisdiction of NSW.

However, some people are still exempt from prosecution. Specifically, those people who have been authorized by the government or have been given a permit to manufacture the firearm in question. This means that, under certain provisions and approvals, 3D printed guns can still be manufactured for medical, educational, military or law enforcement purposes.

As the New South Wales government has stated through a spokeswoman, the state government wants to be prepared for any dangers caused by up and coming technologies now in and in the future. ‘In amending the Firearms Act and Weapons Prohibition Act, the NSW government wants to be on the front foot of any emerging technologies that pose a threat to our community,’ a spokeswoman for the NSW Deputy Premier and Minister of Justice Troy Grant explained to The Huffington Post. When introducing the bill itself a month ago, Grant said they are targeting criminals, not makers. ‘[The provisions] are targeted at criminals who think they can steal or modify firearms or manufacture firearms from 3D blueprints,’ he said. ‘Those who think they can skirt the law will find themselves facing some of the toughest penalties for firearms offences in this country.’

According to Australian criminology professor Roderic Broadhurst, attached to the Australian National University, this amendment is also a reaction to the tremendous speed at which 3D printing technology is improving and decreasing in price. ‘The big story in 2013 was a plastic gun that could fire one bullet, but they can be made of metal now,’ Broadhurst said to reporters. ‘If you went online and searched, you'd be astonished what is there. 3D printers have become less costly and much more capable. In this university, about 12 years ago we bought a very sophisticated printer for AU$750,000; the same quality today would be about AU$2,500, second-hand, and would fit on your desk.’ He went on to say that he feels that such bills are a necessary response.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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orest wrote at 12/8/2015 12:42:40 PM:

Well, just heaving read this article will make you "possesing an electronic reproduction of a technical drawing of the object in question" ( - it will stay in your browser cache and here you go - 14 years in prison...

Jeff wrote at 11/30/2015 6:15:40 PM:

In order to ban weapons, they must eliminate the knowledge of how to make weapons. In order to eliminate the knowledge of how to make weapons, they must eliminate knowledge. Welcome to the new dark ages.

Montana wrote at 11/23/2015 10:10:08 PM:

I'm betting this creates another "great firewall of ..." in the near. A simple google search for "gun" may land them in criminal territory if any cashed browsing temp files are created.. They may need to create another bloated gov organization to identify/enforce? Absolutely nuts! NEVER IN AMERICA

History Repeats wrote at 11/23/2015 3:25:30 PM:

I remember a political group that banned information and books, The Nazi Party prior to WW2.

Stranger wrote at 11/23/2015 1:20:32 PM:

Soo, if i have a technical drawing of all the parts on a piece of paper, it's not illegal? Any machinist that still can operate a manual CNC can make parts, and it's not that hard to learn to work with these machines. And since when do criminals care if a gun/blueprint is legal or not if they plan to use it for illegal purposes anyway?

Bemused Bill wrote at 11/23/2015 12:37:19 PM:

But if you have an old book on firearms and the means to make them from metal that's OK then ??? Perhaps ownership of any tools makes you a potential problem. We should also ban pen and paper as it's too easy to draw a weapon that could be used to threaten people. I was mugged as he had a picture of a gun. Banning information has NEVER worked in history. Especially as the government race to embrace printed weapon parts.

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