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3D-Printed Gun Makes It Through Transportation Security Undetected


"This is going to be a real problem, no doubt about it."

Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson firing the 3D-printed handgun. (Image: YouTube screenshot)

After Defense Distributed completed its first functional handgun made completely with a 3D printer, lawmakers began calling for a ban of the use of the technology for such purposes as it would make weapons undetectable, posing a security threat. Now, the U.K.'s Daily Mail has demonstrated why some lawmakers were so concerned about the weapon, as the outlet created a replica in less than two days and bought it undetected through transportation security.

Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson firing the 3D-printed handgun. (Image: YouTube screenshot)

Although the online blueprints for "The Liberator" have been removed for now from Defense Distributed's sharing site DEFCAD at the request of the government, the design was posted for several days and was downloaded by thousands. Some file-sharing sites are still hosting it.

The Daily Mail used a £1,700 (about $2,613) 3D printer to create all the components of .38 caliber gun within a 36-hour period. In case you missed the video showing the successful firing of the handgun by Defense Distributed's Wiki-Weapons project, check it out:

Two Daily Mail reporters brought the plastic firearm undetected through what they call "airport-style" security and boarded a crowded Eurostar train servicing London to Paris. The Mail described this demonstration as a "security scandal."

"Last night, the train operator began an urgent investigation into the security breach as experts called for airports and public buildings to review their procedures in light of our revelations," the Mail reported.

Here's more from the Mail's story regarding the security concerns they prompted:

Last night, security experts and politicians said they were horrified at the implications of our investigation. Lord West, the former Labour security Minister, called for a review to see how the ‘extremely dangerous’ weapons could be better detected.

But he said he was ‘not surprised’ that Eurostar checks had failed to spot the weapon because they were so hard to detect. He said: ‘What we need is a review of how we can look at these things and how we can discover them more easily. That will take work and it will cost money. 

‘These weapons are extremely dangerous because they are very difficult to detect with the methods we normally use. This is going to be a real problem, no doubt about it. People are going to have to rethink whether we need more checks.’

A Eurostar spokeswoman said last night: ‘Eurostar has a high level of security, with a number of checks  as specified by the authorities in order to protect the integrity of the Channel Tunnel. We take any issue relating to security very seriously. We will be investigating immediately to fully understand the nature of this issue with our security partner which carries out checks on our behalf at St Pancras. We will also investigate the matter with the Department for Transport, who oversee our security operation, and specify the checks that need to be undertaken.’

The Mail reporters describe that they had the plastic firearm in three different pieces as they passed through security. They made the final assembly of the gun on board the train, taking just 30 seconds. It should be noted that they did not smuggle the firing pin of the weapon -- the only component of the 16-piece gun not made out of plastic with the printer -- due to " safety and legal reasons."

Components of The Liberator (Photo: WikiWep DevBlog)

Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson told TheBlaze in a previous interview that the firing pin is not created with the printer because it needs to be made out of a harder material. The Mail staff report that this small component, although metal, would not likely be detected as a nefarious item by security.

Wilson's version of The Liberator was designed with a metal piece, not functional to the gun, embedded within it to stifle security concerns over the weapon.

Tim Worstall for Forbes wrote that he doesn't consider the demonstration by the Mail reporters "difficult" or "important," as it didn't include the firing pin or ammunition. The Liberator, for now according to Worstall, is "little more than an interesting demonstration project of the possibilities of 3D printing."

Read more about the Daily Mail smuggling the plastic, 3D-printed gun through transportation security and the concerns some have expressed afterward here.



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