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Look Out Europe: Guns Are Coming


Police departments across Europe are putting down deposits on 3D printers to manufacture guns—not for their own use, but to test out whether a 3D-printed firearm could actually pose a threat to public safety. The jury is still out, but signs point to yes: After testing a gun made from blueprints found on the internet, Austrian officials believe that the weapon is deadly, and a number of reporters have already managed to sneak these mostly plastic weapons through security without detection.

At the moment, there are still some reasons to doubt whether this will be an immediate concern. The gun, known as the Liberator, is made of plastic, which makes it easy to sneak through security checkpoints but also makes it unreliable. Many versions could only fire one shot before the barrel needed replacing. And while the price of 3D printers is coming down, they have yet to become a standard household appliance. But as the New York Times notes, even the threat of homemade, downloadable guns poses a serious problem for Europe’s restrictive gun laws:

“In Germany and in most European countries, the possession of an unregistered weapon, even if it is manufactured at home, is illegal and punishable by law,” said Michael Brzoska, a security expert and director of the Institute for Peace Research and Security Studies at the University of Hamburg. “But the temptation to try, if it’s technically possible, is a great one.”  […]

“It is very difficult to do anything about it,” said Mr. Joergensen of Europol. “Of course you can say that it is illegal, but as with everything else on the Internet, you can always get it from somewhere.”

Europeans are fond of gloating that their gun laws have led to a much lower homicide rate than countries like the US, where guns laws are relatively lax. But technology may be making small arms restrictions nearly impossible to enforce without extremely intrusive internet policing. Guns may be coming to Europe whether it wants them or not.

[Photo of the Liberator by Michael Thad Carter for Click through to see more photos]

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  • gerald

    Two words. Kennesaw, Georgia.

    • Corlyss


  • Corlyss

    Good news for Europeans! At last they will have something with which to defend themselves besides a cell phone and 911.
    -When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.

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