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3D Printed Guns: Will They Affect the Firearms Industry?


3D Printed Guns: Will They Affect the Firearms Industry?


In recent months, there has been a worrying increase in the number of 3D printed guns on UK streets. This could have a devastating impact on the UK's firearms industry, which is already struggling with stricter gun laws. This article will explore the potential implications of 3D printed guns and ask whether enough is being done to stop them from hitting our streets.


What are 3D printed guns and how do they work?


3D printed guns are firearms that have been created using a 3D printer, usually printed by individuals using popular files uploaded onto social media platforms. These files can be from other individuals whose hobbies include 3D printing and tinkering with firearms, or from more sinister sources. Once printed, the guns are then able to be assembled and used, usually with the help of a few additional parts purchased from suppliers online.

These printers are becoming increasingly affordable and easy to use, meaning that more people have access to the technology needed to create these weapons.


The potential implications of 3D printed guns for the UK firearms industry


The main problem with 3D printed guns is that they are extremely difficult to trace, also known as a 'ghost gun'. If a crime is committed using one of these weapons, it can be hard for the police to track down the person responsible. This could have a serious impact on the firearms industry, as it would be much harder to crack down on illegal gun use. With the upcoming revamp of the National Firearms Licensing Management System (NFLMS), traceability of guns could be a major factor - including the possibility of solely-electronic gun registers.


In addition, 3D printed guns are much harder to detect than traditional firearms. Being made from plastic, they can easily be smuggled into places where guns are not permitted - meaning they could fall into the hands of criminals and terrorists. Due to this the UK's gun laws could become even stricter, as the government tries to crack down on these weapons. Additionally, the general public's opinion of firearms could decrease, putting pressure on the government to tighten laws and sentences further.


How effective are current gun laws in the UK and could they be improved to deal with 3D printed guns?


The UK has some of the strictest gun laws in the world, which could be affected by the use of 3D printed firearms. Since just 2019, six people in the UK have been prosecuted where 3D-printed guns played a role in their case. With the price of 3D printers quickly decreasing, this could be seen to increase.

In order to deal with 3D printed guns, the government could monitor social media platforms to limit the possibilities of these files being uploaded and shared. Particularly on far-right and terrorist forums as these files have been shared previously. However, some people argue that these measures would be ineffective.


Final thoughts


The increase in 3D printed guns is a worrying trend that could have devastating implications for the UK's firearms industry. From stricter gun laws, to the changing of the NFLMS, could traceability of guns be majorly improved in the next 5 years?

What do you think? Do 3D printed guns pose a threat to the UK firearms industry?