Germany’s federal police agencies are buying a 3D printer in order to see whether homemade 3D-printed guns are really a threat. This follows on from the Defense Distributed debacle back in May, when a U.S. libertarian activist briefly posted designs for such things on the web before being ordered to remove them due to export laws.
The purchase of the printer by the German authorities came as a response to a parliamentary question posed by Die Linke (The Left party). The government said the police wanted to see whether ne’er-do-wells could actually make plastic guns that could be smuggled onto planes, and also whether the police might find a use for such technology themselves.
The federal police have also swapped notes with their counterparts in New South Wales, Australia, who have already conducted tests on 3D-printed firearms. I daresay no-one is too concerned about an imminent threat – the Australian police tests suggested that anyone firing a “Liberator” weapon would injure or kill not only their target but also themselves, as the guns have a nasty habit of exploding.
That said, while it’s reportedly not easy to make, the Liberator was only – pardon the pun – a warning shot. Designs and printers will no doubt improve, and it’s all too easy to predict someone successfully smuggling a viable 3D-printed gun through a security check at some point in the long run.
Personally, though, I’m more intrigued by the idea of police using such weapons themselves. Whatever for?