The Guardian|A Zimbabwean student has become the first person in the UK to be convicted for using a 3D printer to manufacture a gun.
Tendai Muswere, 26, pleaded guilty at Southwark crown court on Wednesday to the charge of manufacturing a 3D printed gun.
Police had initially gained access to Muswere’s home in Pimlico, central London, in October 2017 using a drug warrant, but found components of a 3D printed gun capable of firing a lethal shot during the search.
Muswere, a student who does not hold a firearms licence, told officers he had printed the firearm for a “dystopian film” as part of a university project – but later refused to comment on what the film project was about.
Muswere claimed he was unaware the weapon he had printed was capable of firing. A subsequent police search of Muswere’s browsing history revealed he had watched videos demonstrating how to manufacture a firearm capable of firing live ammunition using a 3D printer.
During a second search of his property, in February 2018, police found further components of a 3D printed gun.
The Metropolitan police said there was not widespread concern about the printing of guns in London. While plans for guns can be created or downloaded online, not all parts can be printed off – in other words, a gun cannot be manufactured by simply downloading plans online and using a 3D printer.
Problems arise around tracing 3D-printed guns and although possession of such weapons is illegal in the US and the UK, enforcing the law is difficult because it is not necessarily known who is making them. The ease with which they can be produced and used is also of concern to authorities.
Acting DS Jonathan Roberts, who led the investigation, said: “Muswere claimed that he was printing the firearms for a ‘dystopian’ university film project but he has not explained why he included the component parts necessary to make a lethal barrelled weapon. We know that Muswere was planning to line the printed firearms with steel tubes in order to make a barrel capable of firing.
“This conviction, which I believe is the first of its kind relating to the use of a 3D printer to produce a firearm, has prevented a viable gun from getting into the hand of criminals and is an excellent example of great partnership working between detectives, neighbourhood police and our forensic colleagues.”
During the search of Muswere’s home, cannabis plants and evidence of cannabis cultivation were found.