Defense Distributed

German federal police forces are getting into the 3-D printing business. Responding to a question posed by the Left Party in parliament, the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA, the Federal Criminal Police) and the Bundespolizei (BPOL, the Federal Police) purchased a 3-D printer to see how easy it would be to make weapons that could successfully bypass airport security checks. They also want to see if the technology has any potential police use.

Authorities have been—perhaps rightfully—a little bit worried about the average crazy Joe being able to print a 3-D killer weapon at home since Defense Distributed posted the designs to its first completely 3-D printed gun in early May.

New York City politicians rushed to float the idea of banning 3-D printed guns, as did one California state senator. Others were more cautious about seeing what this whole plastic gun thing was all about.

The German police agencies have reportedly been chatting with their colleagues in New South Wales, Australia, who earlier this summer spent $35 to print Defense Distributed’s design, the Liberator. The New South Wales police commissioner warned in May that the gun misfired catastrophically during testing, exploding into pieces.

Though the Liberator proved difficult to recreate in a manner that wouldn’t explode, people are already out there improving on Cody Wilson’s designs. It’s probably wise for police forces to get a handle on what these types of weapons can do before they run into them on duty. How the agencies themselves might benefit from easily concealable plastic guns with a tendency to fall apart upon firing is another question.