With the deployment of personal 3D printers to thousands of private homes, it was inevitable that some people would focus on the bad instead of the good. Now those fears have truly jumped the shark, when police in Manchester, UK raided what they believed to be a "3D printed gun factory".
Unfortunately, their search uncovered only 3D printed parts for a MakerBot.
The Manchester Police issued a statement (now retracted) where they claimed to have found parts, including a trigger, that could be made into a functional weapon. Unfortunately for the police, their announcement included image of said parts - which were quickly identified by many as common parts for MakerBots (a Replicator 2 drive block and a spool holder).
The Manchester Police issued a second statement in which they say:
We need to be absolutely clear that at that this stage, we cannot categorically say we have recovered the component parts for a 3D gun.What we have seized are items that need further forensic testing by national ballistics experts to establish whether they can be used in the construction of a genuine, viable firearm.We will also be conducting a thorough analysis of computers we have recovered to establish any evidence of a blueprint on how to construct such a weapon.Clearly the fact we have seized a 3D printer and have intelligence about the possible production of a weapon using this technology is of concern. It prudent we establish exactly what these parts can be used for and whether they pose any threat.What this has also done is open up a wider debate about the emerging threat these next generation of weapons might pose.The worrying thing is for me is that these printers can be used to make certain components of guns, while others can be legitimately ordered over the Internet without arousing suspicion. When put together, this could allow a person to construct a firearm in their own home.
Sure, and perhaps they should raid every metal shop in the region, too, as they may be able to manufacture actual weapons that actually work.
Perhaps it's time that society spends more effort eliminating the causes of gun crime instead of chasing down guns.
Or in this case, non-existent guns.
Image Credit: Wikipedia