The Swedish do-it-yourself community has attracted unexpected and unwanted company, as Malmö criminals have started using 3D printers to manufacture their own weapons.

Earlier this year, a group of Swedish researchers from Sahlgrenska Academy made international headlines, when they not only implanted 3D-printed human cartilage cells into mice, but got them to survive and grow after implantation. Swedish criminals seem to be almost as innovative and pioneering as the scientific community, yet in their own shady way.
Recently, Malmö police seized functioning 3D-printed firearms on two separate occasions, Swedish national broadcaster SVT reported. A home-made pistol was found during the search of one the city’s hardened criminals earlier this year.

The seized gun was made almost entirely of plastic, which triggered specialists’ suspicions. After police technicians investigated the weapon, it was established that it had to be made using a 3D printer. The hand-made gun was similar to the Czech automatic weapon Scorpion, but was of different caliber. Some of the parts were probably taken from real weapons, while the rest was 3D-printed and perfectly usable.

“Another 3D-printed weapon was found in a parking lot earlier this spring. There are still no suspects for the production of either of the weapons,” police spokesman Nils Norling told SVT.

The incident alarmed Stefan Sintéus of the Malmö Police. In recent years Malmö, “Sweden’s most multicultural” city, has been characterized by escalating gangland violence, supported by the large-scale smuggling of arms, which nevertheless has proven insufficient. According to him, criminals stop at nothing and make use of all the opportunities that turn up.

“What amazed me quite a bit is that despite the good supply of weapons in southern Sweden, which we get from the Balkans, weapons are being built this way,” Stefan Sintéus told the Swedish newspaper Expressen.

According to Sintéus, 3D printers provide unmatched opportunities for those who want to manufacture their own arms and expressed concern that the present-day legislation does not go hand in hand with the recent developments.

“At present, it is not possible to criminalize a 3D printer, but now we have started to encounter people from the criminal environment who have 3D-printed weapons on them,” Stefan Sintéus said.

Expressen columnist Csaba Perlenberg wrote that the recent development means that virtually every person owning a 3D printer and the necessary print material has the potential to create deadly weapons.

“We are only in the dawn of the 3D print revolution. The production chain is about to be completely revolutionized. By downloading printable model maps over different parts, or entire sequences, it is possible to print virtually everything,” Csaba Perlenberg wrote in his opinion piece, citing numerous examples of 3D-printed arms and ammunition. He also called for a toughening of arms legislation to stop the proliferation of 3D-printed arms.

The Swedish police also advocated the idea that 3D-printed guns should be put into the same category as regular ones.

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