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Blueprints for 3D-printed guns now illegal in NSW

While they might be the fastest gun (to make) in the west, 3D-printed weapons are still illegal in Australia. But now, you could also face 14 years in jail just for possessing digital files of 3D-printed guns.

Claire Reilly Former Principal Video Producer
Claire Reilly was a video host, journalist and producer covering all things space, futurism, science and culture. Whether she's covering breaking news, explaining complex science topics or exploring the weirder sides of tech culture, Claire gets to the heart of why technology matters to everyone. She's been a regular commentator on broadcast news, and in her spare time, she's a cabaret enthusiast, Simpsons aficionado and closet country music lover. She originally hails from Sydney but now calls San Francisco home.
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  • Webby Award Winner (Best Video Host, 2021), Webby Nominee (Podcasts, 2021), Gold Telly (Documentary Series, 2021), Silver Telly (Video Writing, 2021), W3 Award (Best Host, 2020), Australian IT Journalism Awards (Best Journalist, Best News Journalist 2017)
Claire Reilly
2 min read

A demonstration of test shots fired from a 3D printed gun called the "Liberator."

YouTube/DXLiberty

Ever been curious about what goes into making a 3D-printed gun? It might be wise to keep that mystery unanswered, with new changes to laws that make it illegal to possess blueprints for 3D-printed guns.

In an attempt to keep up with new technology and stop the potential of 3D-printed firearms leaking into the black market, the NSW Government has announced changes to the Firearms Act and Weapons Prohibition Act to "create a new offence of possessing digital blueprints for the manufacture of firearms on 3D printers or electronic milling machines." Blueprints for manufacturing "prohibited weapons" are also criminalised.

While the arrival of 3D printing led some to warn that of a rise in home-made weapons, the new manufacturing technology has not exactly led to a flood of print-your-own guns on the streets. Indeed, the Australian Crime Commission last year told a Senate enquiry on gun-related violence that 3D-printed guns still only posed a "low threat to law enforcement."

Despite this, police have been keen to get on the front foot with the new manufacturing technology and make a show of cracking down on the presence of the weapons in the community. Earlier this year, Queensland Police publicised the seizure of one such haul, which included 3D-printed gun parts and knuckled dusters.

Until now, laws have prohibited the manufacture of firearms without a license, and the 3D-printed weapons and parts found in Queensland were still classified as firearms under that state's legislation. But lawmakers are now working on the other side of the 3D printing puzzle by criminalising the very possession of plans to make such parts.

Those caught with these "digital blueprints" face up to 14 years' imprisonment under the new legislation, though there are a number of defences to the new offence, including "defences relating to innocent production, dissemination or possession" and conduct related to "approved research."