May 26, 2016 | By Alec

Shane Middleton was arrested on Thursday. Photo: Eddie Jim

While the debate on 3D printed guns is largely a theoretical one in most parts of the world, it seems to be a real issue in Australia already. Last year, several 3D printed gun (components) were already discovered in the possession of several people with ties to the Australian criminal circuit, and now another bikie has been arrested after a 3D printer and firearm equipment was found in his home. Shane Middleton of Seabrook in the state of Victoria is a senior member of the Mongol bikie gang and drugs were also found in his home during the arrest.

This new case certainly suggests that criminals have embraced the untraceable nature of 3D printed guns. In early 2015, several sets of 3D printed gun parts were already found during a police raid in Gold Coast, Australia. Later that year a loaded 3D printed gun was been discovered during a police raid in Mudgeeraba, a suburb of that same city. In the latter case, several bikies were also taken into custody.

Bottom: gun 3D printed by police in 2013.

In response, the Australian government is cracking down on 3D printed gun ownership. Since November 2015, it’s even illegal to own blueprints for 3D printed guns in the state of New South Wales. Through that amendment gun laws, NSW residents can face a maximum penalty of 14 years in jail for owning a digital blueprint. At a previous press conference, the NSW police also showed off two 3D printed guns made with ‘The Liberator’ files which can be found online. 3D printed in about 27 hours, they only require a steel nail as a firing pin. While police tests showed they could kill, one of the guns exploded during testing.

While no such law exists in the state of Victoria, senior Mongol bikie Shane Middleton will certainly face several charges after a 3D printer, gun-making equipment and drugs were found at his home in Seabrook. The 26-year-old Middleton was arrested alongside his fiancé Renee Comeadow, while another man who is also associated with the outlawed Mongol bikie gang was arrested in nearby Oakleigh South.

Photos: Eddie Jim

All were arrested during raids that took place at 6 AM local time on Thursday. According to Australian media, Middleton was charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice, the possession of cocaine, steroids, ammunition and the possession of a prohibited weapon. The other man was found in possession of a stolen motorcycle and ammunition. All three are expected to face the Melbourne Magistrates Court later today. “The warrant is part of an ongoing Echo Taskforce investigation in relation to perverting the course of justice,” a police spokeswoman said.

It’s not the first time Middleton was arrested. Believed to be the Mongol gang’s sergeant-at-arms, he was released on bail last month after being in custody for five months. After his previous arrest Detective Senior Constable Andrew Broad, a member of the Echo Taskforce, told the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court that they found a gun and a “substantial” amount of drugs in the couple’s home in Seabrook. That arrest took place last November, after Middleton was driven to the hospital with a gunshot wound in the leg. It remains unclear who shot him. Among others, he was released on the condition that he would no longer associate with bikers.

Police leave the scene with evidence. Picture: Nicole Garmston

It remains to be seen how ownership of 3D printed gun parts will be punished in the state of Victoria, though it will have to be proved that the 3D printer in question was indeed used for that purpose. In the past, Australian police forces and lawmakers have already spoken out about the serious dangers that 3D printed weapons bring to society.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Senceless in an insane world wrote at 6/10/2016 11:10:52 PM:

I wish that this had never started. The "Liberator" is a failure as a weapon and the idiots that thought this up should be given one as a punishment for their stupidity. Every time the subject comes up I feel my brain cells dieing in response to the stupid comments.

Bill wrote at 5/26/2016 8:08:22 PM:

It takes 27 hours to print a one shot exploding gun. Can build the same thing with steel pipe, a spring, and a nail in less time and it will not explode on you.

Boil Yer Head wrote at 5/26/2016 2:57:45 PM:

Motorcycle parts make much better weapons than printed guns. It's great negative PR for 3D printing AGAIN Even a small lathe can make a sub (Sten) machine gun.

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