The October attack on the German Synagogue also highlighted the issue of domestic weapons production on 3D printers due to media shortcuts. Some MEPs have asked the European Commission to propose regulations. However, attackers often only need to purchase weaponry materials from regular stores and do not need 3D printing.
In early October last year, Germany was rocked by an attack in the eastern city of Halle, when a right-wing extremist tried to break into a local synagogue during the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. When he failed, two random people in the area fell victim to him, injuring two others.
The Committee on Legal Affairs of the European Parliament (JURI) was represented by its British member Lucy Nethsingha (Liberal Democrats, RE) under the recent the requests for interpellation of the European Commissionthat “the attacker used a weapon made by 3D printing, the plan of which he uploaded to Twitter”. This is one of the main reasons why she asks the Commission to give serious consideration to this issue.
However, the information mentioned by the committee is far from accurate. “I believe the Honorable Member’s proposal is based on a lack of understanding of the weapons used by the author in Halle,” said the lawyer and weapons expert. Tomas Gawron with the fact that in addition to explosives, swords and knives, the author had a total of five homemade weapons and one historical weapon.
“Of the weapons that were domestic, all five were made from commonly available metal parts and commonly available tools that can be purchased on the hobby market. Only one of the two Luty submachine guns made by the aggressor had components created on a 3D printer,” Gawron explained. According to him, these were “side” parts that are not exposed to the pressures of the shot. Even so, when fired, the weapon suffers from melting of the parts. plastic and quickly becomes unusable.According to Gawron, a video of the attack shows that the weapon was probably not even used.
“It is [v případě 3D tisku zbraní] In my view, this is a serious issue, which is nonetheless plagued by a number of myths,” the MEP said. Jiří Pospísil (TOP09, PPE), who is a member of the JURI committee. According to him, the link between 3D printing and the Halle attack was an inaccurate media acronym. He also pointed to the fact that the attacker purchased most of the components for his weapons on the hobby market.
Contraband weapons are more reliable and cheap
The JURI committee underlined that “3D printing is a technology with great economic potential for European companies, in particular small innovative companies, and many countries have started to adopt strategies to support its development. However, this technology also raises specific legal and ethical issues. According to the commission, various studies show that there are gaps in EU legislation on the use of 3D printing. For example, MEPs want the Commission to know whether it will adopt new legislation and when it intends to do so.
“This is a relatively new technology that is unregulated in many member states, so I would consider any regulation at EU level as premature at this time,” Pospíšil told EURACTIV.cz. For the time being, the activity of the EU institutions would be more oriented towards examining all the relevant aspects of the question.
According to Gawron, 3D printers available to ordinary consumers do not represent a way to produce firearms; more often, criminals use components and tools commonly available in hobby markets. “There are not many of these weapons on the European Union black market, as the black market is flooded with cheap and generally more reliable weapons smuggled across EU external borders for decades. places of active or previous military conflict, or cheap grenades, such as Sweden,” he explained.
In some countries, according to Gawron, on the other hand, criminals prefer weapons from the “hobby market”, such as Australia, Brazil or Canada. “This type of weapon is rare in the Czech Republic. For example, in 2013 the police seized the AGRAM5 submachine gun, also from an illegal manufacture in the ‘hobby market’. In terms of ‘quality’ and reliability, it is a weapon that can compete with the flagship products of European arms companies,” added the expert.
Regarding potential EU regulation, Gawron said that “if the European Union wants to regulate leisure markets, scaffolding and plumbing pipes, it should be noted that in Canada, criminals generally use bicycle pipes for domestic arms production”.
As Pospíšil wrote, the Halle case shows that in addition to conventional illegal weapons acquired on the black market, weapons made at home from commonly available materials can also be dangerous. “Therefore, there is certainly a need to focus on tackling homemade guns that still elude police statistics, but I am strongly opposed to legal gun owners ending up paying for it, as has been the case. the case with the EU Arms Directive,” said the concluded that the MEP has long been dealing with the topic of the heavily criticized EU Arms Directive in the Czech Republic.
How is the Czech law doing?
Czech legislation deals with the issue of regulation of arms production in general. “Whether producing using scaffolding tubes or 3D printers, the legislation is the same. In such cases, producing a firearm without proper permits will generally be an offence. criminal offense of illicit weapons,” Gawron said. As a rule, firearms can only be manufactured in the Czech Republic by holders of the corresponding firearms license, and not by ordinary firearms license holders.
According to Gawron, each new weapon is then subjected to piecemeal verification at the Czech Office for Arms and Ammunition Control. The purpose of the tests is in particular to verify whether the weapon meets the specified technical requirements, such as the ability to withstand the pressures resulting from firing without the risk of catastrophic failure of the weapon and injury to the shooter.
“Basically, commercially available 3D printers based on plastic fiber fusion do not allow consumers to make the main parts of the weapon, especially the ammunition chamber, barrel and breech, which can withstand the shooting pressure,” Gawron explained. .
According to him, another category is represented by professional 3D printers operating on the principle of sintering metal dust with a laser, but here it is a technology that is worth 10 to 25 million crowns for a printer. “The price of the Zastava M70 assault rifle smuggled from the Balkans, so prized by Islamist terrorists, fluctuates between 300 and 2,500 euros on the black market in Western European cities”, concluded the expert.