By Hilary Whiteman, CNN
An Australian teenager has been charged with firearms offenses after police seized a fully functional firearm he allegedly made at home using a 3D printer.
Western Australia Police found the gun and a number of other firearms after executing a search warrant at the 18-year-old’s home in early June.
“This firearm, despite looking like a toy, has the ability to cause serious harm within our community,” said Senior Detective Sergeant. Blair Smith told reporters. “It is deeply concerning that this man was able to make this firearm at home with a 3D printer and readily available materials.”
The plastic weapon is capable of firing 15 rounds with a single pull of the trigger, according to CNN affiliate Nine News. Police say it took two days to make materials costing less than 40 Australian dollars ($28), Nine reported.
Last year, the Western Australian government proposed changes to gun laws to make the manufacture of plastic 3D guns illegal. Under the proposal, a maximum sentence of 10 years would apply to anyone caught with plans or instructions on how to carry them out.
In Australia, civilians are prohibited from owning fully automatic weapons, and all other possession of firearms is heavily regulated and restricted to persons over the age of 18 with a valid licence. The laws were introduced in 1996 after a gunman opened fire on tourists at Port Arthur, a former colonial prison in Tasmania, killing 35 people.
The massacre horrified the Australian public and the government quickly tightened rules on gun ownership. A gun amnesty was launched, which encouraged people to turn in guns to local police stations anonymously and without penalty. Combined with a gun buy-back program, the measure removed around 640,000 guns from circulation.
Since then, short-term amnesties have been announced – around 57,000 firearms were surrendered in just three months during the last national amnesty in 2017, according to the government. Last July, the national gun amnesty became a permanent feature.
The Western Australian teenager has been charged with offenses including unlicensed manufacture of firearms and ammunition, and possession of a prohibited weapon.
He is due to appear in court next week.
Australia is often cited as an example of how gun control through decisive action can be successful in reducing gun deaths. Australia’s last mass shooting was in 2018 when seven people were killed at a property in Perth, Western Australia. It was the worst mass shooting in the country for 22 years.
Australia’s firearm homicide rate is 33 times lower than that of the United States, according to the Gun Policy website.
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