UK's NCA Wants To Ban Gun Files For 3D Printers

(Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP, File)

When it was finally decided that gun files for 3D printers weren’t restricted anymore, I figured it was the effective end of gun control. After all, how can you restrict firearms if anyone can just make their own with relative ease?


Unfortunately, far too few in government got the memo.

The genie is out of the bottle and you’re never going to stuff it back in. However, in the UK, it seems some want to try.

The National Crime Agency wants to ban the files.

The head of the National Crime Agency has called for ministers to make possessing 3D-printed gun blueprints illegal after a fourfold increase in seizures.

Seventeen 3D-printed firearms were confiscated by police last year, up from three two years ago, Graeme Biggar told reporters at a conference in central London.

“The government is considering legislation and we have asked them to take forward legislation that would outlaw the ownership of blueprints and would change the definition of what a gun is so that something that is part-built is a gun,” the Biggar said.

Giving the annual security lecture at the Royal United Services Institute on Tuesday, Biggar also said that introducing end-to-end encryption on Facebook would be like “consciously turning a blind eye to child abuse”.

Biggar said 3D technology had also become far more sophisticated such that an entire gun could be printed, not only in plastic but even in metal along with the ammunition.

“You can kill with these things,” he said. “In the early stages of 3D printed firearms, they were as likely to hurt the person firing them as they were the person they were being aimed at. That is no longer the case.”

He disclosed that the government was considering outlawing the ownership of blueprints, putting them effectively on a par with possession of a terrorist manual as evidence of lethal intent.

“At the moment, if you go in and find someone who has got a three-quarters printed 3D firearm with the blueprint, it’s not a prima facie offence,” said Biggar. “So we want to change the law so it is the case.”


Here in the US, it’s long been held that computer files are forms of speech, which means banning files is banning speech.

But the UK hasn’t respected freedom of speech for quite some time, so this shouldn’t be shocking.

What the NCA doesn’t seem to understand, though, is that they’re not going to accomplish a blasted thing. Oh, they might see someone with part of a gun made and be able to arrest them? So what? Someone else will just meet that demand soon enough.

You cannot stop people from deciding to be criminals and you’re not going to stop them from printing guns.

As I’ve said before, the genie is out of the bottle and you’re never going to get it back inside. Gun control as an idea is long dead. The days of effectively restricting guns was never really a thing, but you could trick yourself into thinking it was.

Now, you can’t, so the UK is going to try and stop people from 3D printing their own guns, all while ignoring the fact that files are so easily transferred is going to make this a quixotic task.

3D printers are here to stay. New York can try to restrict them and the UK can try to restrict the files, but none of that is going to accomplish anything except make it difficult for the law-abiding.


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