3D printed submachine gun

The Guardian of Techno phobia

The internet has recently seen a resurgence in the yellow journalism of the 1890’s. Just like the newspaper wars  between Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World and William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal, news sites today are using scare headlines and misleading stores to attract viewers.

The More Things Change…

Presidential elections and false news on Facebook are the tip of a much larger problem with the swamp of content available on the internet. With so many websites that automatically disseminate content without vetting the information, any organization can flood the net with the publication of highly inflammatory click bait.

… the More they Stay the Same.

The Guardian, an UK based publishing firm is evolving the tradition of yellow journalism, setting their techno-phobic sights on 3D printing.

Just as it has been reported in the past that a fire was NOT caused by a 3D printer, the Guardian has published a piece of technically ignorant click bait about 3D printing.

“You Furnish the Pictures and I’ll Furnish the War “

3D printed guns are hot button topic in 3D printing, but as I found they are all sound and no furry. The Guardian published an article recently with the sensationalist headline “Gold Coast {Australia} drug raids uncover 3D-printed submachine guns”

The Luty submachien gun that is NOT 3D printed. This has no 3D printed parts, and is made of commercial tubing on a drill press. Photo from the guardian, used under fair use for commentary.
The Luty submachien gun that is NOT 3D printed. This has no 3D printed parts, and is made of commercial metal tubing on a drill press. Photo from the Guardian, used under fair use for commentary.

The leading picture (above) supposedly shows a 3D printed submachine gun handled by a Australian police officer.

Well the 3D printing community was up in arms, spreading this story around. The mouthpieces of the Guardian were spreading the story like wildfire as well.

The Truth Hurts

In fact the Guardian is guilty as the false news on Facebook of complete and total lies.

The gun show in the picture has no 3D printed parts at all.

In fact the gun pictured is called a Luty, a popular .32 / .380 caliber homemade submachine gun,  made with a drill press and tubular metal stock that you can find in industrial stores.


The Luty has shown up on the streets of Western Australia, a country with strict gun control measures.

At this recent drug raid in Australia, the police found 4 of these all metal Luty’s, along with a 3D printer and a drill press.

Nowhere in the article does it say that an actual, firing 3D printed gun was produced.

Ongoing Fear mongering

Australian police seem to recognize what little risk 3D printed guns pose. Recently the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission released a report  stating “

The ACIC and other law enforcement agencies have assessed the current threat of 3D printing of firearms as low.”

They went further in stating

“Since instructions to produce a 3D printed firearm were published online, the ACIC has identified only three attempts to manufacture such firearms in Australia. Of those identified, none were functioning when detected by police.

This is in contrast to the Hearld Sun, which published their own ignorant article with the headline “Future Melbourne: Criminals could use 3D printers to create bombs, guns”. They even cited the same ACIC report, but glossed over how low the threat from 3D printed guns are.

UPDATE: 26 November 2016

A followup article from 3DPI actually contacted Detective Superintendent Jon Wacker of the Drug and Serious Crime Group  in Queensland, Australia to confirm what everyone in the 3D printing community knows.

According to 3DPI,

There is nothing in any media reports to suggest that any parts were made, I see those list of questions there you’ve asked, nothing would suggest that any part of that machine gun was made on a 3D printer.

During a raid as part of Operation Oscar Quantum, targeting the illicit manufacture and trade of amphetamines, an XYZ Da Vinci 3D printer was also found. “We had the guns out for display and in the media release I did say what we’d also located a 3D printer and with that poetic license has taken over,” said DS Wacker.

It is clear that even the Queensland Police do not think that a 3D printed gun was produced.

Click Bait Cures

With this surge in false news sites and 3D printer phobia, what can we as a 3D printing community do when we see such ignorant clickbait?

  1. Breath. Don’t click anything; don’t have an outburst, just breath.
    2. Breath some more. Keep away from clicking or replying.
    3. Don’t comment, retweet or forward to your social groups. This encourages virality, which benefits the publisher.
    4. Practice your critical observation and reading skills. Headlines are written to grab your attention, but the content (or lack of it) tells you the whole story.
    5. Realize that these publishing organizations receive money every time you click on their links. By not clicking, you are financially boycotting them.
    6. Add these click bait sites to your blocked website black list.
    7. Inform yourself about false news sites and how they spread.

For resources on false news, visit

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