The UK Home Office has clarified the rules against 3D-printed guns, finally stating unequivocally that 3D-printed firearms are prohibited under the Firearms Act 1968. According to an informational release, it is an “offence for an individual to possess, purchase or acquire any component part of a firearm without a certificate.”
3D-printed guns have yet to be officially criminalized in the US but it is increasingly harder to find and download the plans to the first 3D-printed gun, the Liberator from Defense Distributed. In fact, this original zip-gun style 3D model has been eclipsed by a real, fireable pistol made entirely out of metal and 3D printed using laser sintering.
Regardless, the average consumer is miles away from being able to print a real gun at home, but that hasn’t stopped the UK authorities from fully outlawing the practice. The release states:
The manufacture, purchase, sale and possession of 3D printed firearms, ammunition or their component parts is fully captured by the provisions in section 57(1) of the Firearms Act 1968. The definition of firearm in the Act includes any component parts. 3D printed firearms are subject to strict control in the following respects:
a. under section 1 of the 1968 Act, it is an offence for an individual to possess, purchase or acquire any component part of a firearm without a certificate;
b. under section 3 of the 1968 Act, it is an offence for a person to manufacture or possess for sale a component part of a firearm acting by way of trade or business; and
c. under section 5 of the 1968 Act, it is an offence for a person to manufacture, possess, purchase, sell, transfer or acquire a component part of a prohibited weapon without the authority of the Secretary of State for the Home Department or by Scottish Ministers in Scotland.
Considering the possible threat from 3D printed guns is approximately zero, it’s brave of the UK Home Office to get out in front of the problem. In fact I’d wager that the moment 3D metal sintering becomes an amateur pursuit, we will have far more societal problems to deal with than 3D-printed pop guns.