3D-PRINTED “GHOST GUNS”
3D printing is an engineering method that constructs a three-dimensional object via a 3D printer and a digital design file. While 3D printing has many engineering applications, it has also been used by nefarious actors to manufacture weapons.
Since the first 3D-printed firearm was made in 2013, the technology has become cheaper and easier to use.
The use and manufacture of 3D-printed guns have been predominantly centered in Europe, North America and Australia. Both criminal and terrorist networks, particularly right-wing cells, have attempted to manufacture, use and traffic 3D-printed firearms.
In 2019, right-wing extremist Stephan Balliet attacked a Jewish synagogue in Halle, Germany using a gun that had 3D-printed components. Since then, several far-right networks have attempted to use 3D-printed guns in the UK, Finland, Iceland, Spain and Australia.
While manufacturing lethal 3D-printed firearms requires substantial skill and effort, it offers criminals and terrorists operational security. It allows perpetrators to construct firearms in the safety of their homes, minimising interaction with the outside world and reducing the likelihood of interdiction by authorities.
The firearms are unregistered, and thus difficult to detect, giving rise to the moniker “ghost guns”.