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Home Office updates laws banning 3D-printed guns

If you own, buy, make or sell a 3D-printed gun, you could face 10 years in prison, under updated UK legislation.

Just in case we were in any doubt, the Home Office has made absolutely clear that 3D-printed guns are illegal. It's updated the 1968 Firearms Act to prohibit the manufacture, sale, purchase and possession of 3D-printed firearms unless they're properly licensed, Reuters reports.

It's not a change in legislation. It just clarifies that if you make, sell, buy or own a 3D-printed gun without a licence, you could be in deep trouble. You won't be let off lightly, either. You could get 10 years in prison for any of the above offences.

Section 3.26 on page 24 of the Guide on Firearms Licensing Law states: "The expression 'firearm' in the 1968 Act means a barrelled weapon of any description, or component part of such weapon, from which any shot, bullet or other missile can be discharged… 3D printed weapons are potentially lethal barrelled weapons and must be viewed as such in law. The method of manufacture is not material to this consideration."

Last summer, self-styled crypto-anarchist Cody Wilson fired a bullet from the world's first 3D-printed handgun. He then made the blueprints of said weapon available online, so anyone with a 3D printer, an Internet connection, and access to the right materials could make their own.

The blueprints were downloaded more than 100,000 times in just two days.

There's not a glut of 3D-printed guns in the UK, according to crime prevention minister Norman Baker. But nevertheless, the government wants to make clear that anyone without a licence will be punished.

"There has been an enormous amount of interest in recent months in 3D-printed guns and the potential dangers they pose," Baker said in a statement. "There is no evidence that they are in widespread circulation, but the coalition government has reviewed existing firearms legislation and made it absolutely clear that it is an offence to own or manufacture a 3D printed gun without a licence."

Is the government right to update the law? Are 3D-printed guns a real threat to public safety? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.