Sydney man tried to sell 3D-printed gun for AU$1m

A Sydney resident has been charged after police found four replica 3D-printed firearms, two 3D-printers, and computer equipment in his unit.
Written by Tas Bindi, Contributor

A Sydney man accused of manufacturing six guns using a 3D printer tried to sell one of the guns on social media for AU$1 million, Waverley Local Court heard on Wednesday.

Sicen Sun, 27, was taken into custody on Tuesday after police seized four imitation firearms including Glocks and a Sig 250, as well as two air pistols, two 3D printers, and computer equipment from his unit in Waverley.

"A 27-year-old man was arrested at the location and taken to Waverley Police Station, where he was charged with cause advertisement for firearms to be published, possess digital blueprint for manufacture of firearms, manufacture pistol without licence/permit, and possess less than three unregistered firearms, one is prohibited/pistol," New South Wales Police Force posted on its Facebook page.

Detective Joe Doueihi from the State Crime Command's Firearms Squad said imitation firearms were treated the same as the real thing under state law.

"He just took it that extra step," Doueihi told reporters in Parramatta. "That's no defence in the current law, he's committed a serious criminal offence and that's why he's before the court."

The detective said Sun faces maximum sentences of 20 years for manufacturing a firearm and 14 for possessing the blueprints.

In court, Sun's solicitor Jason Keane described him as "somewhat of a fanboy" who replicated the weapons of certain games or TV shows such as NCIS and Call of Duty.

Magistrate Lisa Stapleton said Sun described himself as someone with "a hobby in making these things and that it had got out of hand". She also acknowledged that Sun had strong community ties, a good job, and prior no criminal record.

Sun was granted bail on the condition he surrender his Chinese and Australian passports, stay away from international airports, check in with police weekly, and pay a AU$3,000 surety.

He is due to face court again in April.

In November 2016, Queensland Police reported discovering a 3D printer in a raid on a "large-scale" weapons production facility as a part of Operation Oscar Quantum.

The raid uncovered homemade weapons and ammunition in a workshop manufacturing facility "containing equipment used in the production of fully automatic machine guns, including a 3D printer, lathes, drill presses, and other tools", according to Queensland police.

As authorities try to halt the distribution of homemade weapons, the government is seeking to address the security issues posed by 3D printing technology becoming more available.

In November 2015, the New South Wales government amended the Firearms Act 1996 and the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 to include offences relating to 3D-printed guns.

Owning or using a 3D printed gun was already illegal under existing legislation and is treated the same way as a conventional firearm; however, under the amendment, it is now considered an offence to possess digital blueprints for the manufacture of firearms on 3D printers or electronic milling machines. The offence carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.

According to the Bill, exempt from prosecution are those authorised to manufacture the prohibited weapon concerned by way of a permit, or those other than a police officer acting in the ordinary course of their duties as a member of the Police Force.

The Bill defines a digital blueprint as any type of digital or electronic reproduction of a technical drawing of the design of an object, and considers possession of a digital blueprint to include the possession of a computer or data storage device holding or containing the blueprint or of a document in which the blueprint is recorded; as well as control of the blueprint held in a computer that is in the possession of another person, be inside or outside of NSW.

The Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency (ANZPAA), recently stated in a report [PDF] that 3D printing of firearms presents new challenges around detection for law enforcement and forensic science.

"The increased availability and reduced cost of 3D printers has made such devices more accessible ... The fact that they are made from plastic and thus untraceable with metal detectors requires innovative detection methodologies or again, systems that can deal with the recognition of the files used," the report states.

With AAP

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