Ghost weapons are gaining ground in Canada
Handcrafted polymer weapons with 3D printers are invading the black market in Canada and the United States.
These guns made using 3D printers are cause for concern increasing for Canadian police forces, which last year seized a hundred of these untraceable homemade weapons, some of which are also undetectable.
Although 3D printer technology has been around for several years now, the use of printed handguns in crimes committed in Canada has been rather marginal in recent years. But things changed quickly, if police statistics are to be believed.
Canadian police seized more than 100 printed firearms last year, with some jurisdictions seeing a surge in such weapons and even dismantling firearm manufacturing networks for the first time. x27; phantom weapons.
This handcrafted (ghost) handgun was assembled with polymer parts from a 3D printer, steel parts sold legally and other components purchased illegally online.
In Calgary, for example, police seized 17 3D-printed firearms in 2022, compared to just one in 2021 and 2020.
I wasn't a big advocate for putting resources into 3D printed guns here in Calgary when we started, because we just didn't see them, says Ben Lawson, Acting Staff Sergeant of the Investigation Unit on Calgary Police Department firearms.
All of a sudden, we're seeing this rise in 2022. So who knows what 2023 is going to bring? continues Constable Lawson.
Increasingly popular due to their low cost and ease of manufacture, these firearms which do not include any serial number can be mostly printed in polymer using a three-dimensional home printer.
However, some metal parts such as barrels or parts of the mechanism must be added to complete the weapon. These parts can be purchased from online gun shops without the need for a firearms license. Other models that have proven to be functional, such as the “Liberator pistol, can be fully printed.
The manufacturing plans for these firearms are readily available on the Internet.
“Anyone can go online and buy a laptop. He can buy a 3D printer for $300 and now he prints guns.
— Ben Lawson, Acting Staff Sergeant of the Calgary Police Service Firearms Investigation Unit
In Canada, a non-traceable gun retails for between $2,500 and $7,500 on the black market, depending on where you get it. The online purchase of printed parts of crafted weapons is also flourishing.
This assault weapon, semi-automatic, is considered by the RCMP to be a ghost weapon because the polymer frame bears no serial number . The other components were found in stores or online.
According to data obtained by CBC News, which contacted about 20 police forces in Canada, printed weapons are being manufactured today. across the country.
When I look at our stats, it […] seems like there is a flood of 3D guns entering the city to make up for the gun shortage to fire that we have right now. […] I knew this was going to happen. It was only a matter of time, Winnipeg Police Service Inspector Elton Hall said at a press conference in July, after the seizure of car chassis. 3D printed weapons.
A few months later, his services announced that they had dismantled a criminal network that solicited and paid 3D printing companies to manufacture polymer firearm frames.
The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary announced the arrest of an illegal arms manufacturer in February. Weapon frames were seized, but also silencers which were also illegally printed, according to the police.
The seven police forces that shared data with CBC report seizing 46 printed weapons in 2022, up from just four the previous year. Which gives an idea of the growing popularity of this type of weapon.
In Toronto, only eight 3D printed firearms have been seized since 2020. But in a statement to CBC, Toronto Police Services (TPS) explained that the importation and cross-border trafficking of; firearms produced by regulated arms manufacturers remained the predominant threat to public safety in Toronto today.
Despite this, there are concerns in the Queen City of the proliferation of untraceable ghost weapons.
In Quebec, printers were also seized from producers of illegal weapons in 2022, but we had not received any statistics from the Sûreté du Québec on seizures made at the time of writing these lines.
We do know, however, that in May 2021, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) formed the Divisional Triage Unit, a specialized team of twelve investigators working to curb this scourge in Quebec.
Since then, some 30 criminal investigations have led to the seizure of 100 illegal firearms, 180 prohibited devices and 100 parts illegally manufactured.
A plastic gun “Liberator” made entirely from a 3D printer.
The phenomenon of printed weapons took off in 2013 in the United States when a man who had designed a fully printable handgun called The Liberator wanted to publish the plans on the Internet.
In 2018, the man finally won his case in court, which upheld his right to post gun blueprints online.
In most states Americans, so residents are now allowed to make firearms for their personal use. Hundreds, if not thousands, of plans for making or printing your own guns are available today on American gun hobbyist sites.
For weapons designer Ethan Middleton, of Wisconsin, these are rights enshrined in the US Constitution, namely the First Amendment on freedom of speech and the Second Amendment which guarantees the right to wear weapons.
“We see this as freedom of expression. It's an art form.
—Ethan Middleton, Weapons Designer
I think having this stuff exposed to the public helps responsible adults and responsibly armed people stay armed whether the government thinks they have the right to do so or not.
Several Canadians have contacted him about the plans he publishes on the Internet, he says.
Marco Mendicino, Federal Minister of Public Security.
It goes without saying that such easy access to technology and necessary plans for the manufacture of prohibited weapons in Canada worries the authorities at home, grappling with a problem of proliferation of illegal handguns in the country.
In an interview with CBC News, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said his biggest concern with ghost weapons is that they're quick to make, cheap, accessible, and designed for the purpose of destruction. #x27;escaping the law. It is very obvious why organized crime uses this technology, the Minister added.
Last year, Marco Mendicino said these firearms were a major concern for Canadian and American law enforcement agencies. But Canada's recently passed Firearms Bill C-21 does not specifically restrict them.
The Standing Committee on Public Safety is currently reviewing the bill. Bill C-21, which makes amendments to Canada's Firearms Act.
Mr. Mendicino said the committee is looking at a way to make the law illegal by more precisely defining the parts of a firearm, which would include barrels and slides, which are parts that must be procured by those who print frames. polymer weapons to make them functional.
The minister added that the government wants to send a very strong signal to the organized crime community that if you attempt to shield you from accountability through the law, we will make it harder for you, through that deterrence, and bring you to justice.
With information from CBC News