Scottish police log first cases involving 3D-printed guns

Forces in Argyll and West Dunbartonshire and Tayside seized homemade weapons for the first time in 2023, with forensic support services warning that they require additional capacity to tackle issue

Police Scotland last year recorded the first cases involving 3D-printed guns last year. 

Authorities logged two incidents in 2023, according to a freedom of information request by 1919 Magazine, which covers issues of justice and social affairs across Scotland.

Details showed the first incident occurred last April in the force’s Argyll and West Dunbartonshire division, with the other happening a month later in Tayside.

Talking to the magazine, firearms expert witness David Dyson said 3D-printed weapons can be manufactured quickly and “a fairly practical person would be able to do it”.

Forensic services supporting policing have also highlighted the issue, warning they “required additional capacity” to face the increasingly complex cases involving 3D-printed weapons.

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However, Dyson toned down security concerns and said: “But it’s not the Wild West – police are able to bring charges against people, and even just having the information may be enough in terms of terrorism-related charges.”

As of December 2022, 3D-printed guns are illegal after the UK government updated legislation making these part of the 1968 Firearms Act.

This announcement also follows the National Crime Agency’s recent call to make the possession of 3D-printed gun blueprints illegal, following a fourfold increase in seizures in 2022.

Dyson added: “People who want 3D printed guns fall into two general categories – serious criminals who would look to get their hands on firearms anyway, and people who simply have a curiosity about guns but mean no harm.”

Authorities including the National Crime Agency and the National Ballistics Intelligence Service are currently involved in creating a strategy to tackle the issue.

Sofia Villegas

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