Unfriendly fire: 3D printed guns are illegal in SA
It is illegal to print 3D-guns in South Africa – and making one could see you spend years in prison.
“Any kind of production of homemade weapons is illegal in South Africa‚” Gun Free South Africa researcher Claire Taylor told TimesLIVE.
Taylor was speaking in the wake of a federal judge in Seattle‚ United States‚ granting a temporary restraining order against the release of designs for a 3D-printed gun on Tuesday. This would have allowed anyone to download the blueprint to print a handgun at home without a background check.
These guns are untraceable‚ because they have no serial numbers.
Cody Wilson designed the “Liberator”‚ which Time reported as being a single-shot pistol made of ABS plastic‚ the same material used in making Lego.
In South Africa‚ such a weapon would be illegal.
According to the Firearms Control Act‚ a person could go to jail for 25 years if they manufacture any gun or ammunition without a manufacturer’s licence‚ or up to 15 years if you alter a gun without a gunsmith’s licence.
The Act distinguishes between so-called airguns and firearms.
An airgun is a device that fires bullets and projectiles less than 5.6 mm (.22 calibre) or at a muzzle energy less than 8 joules (6 foot-pounts) using compressed gas. A firearm is defined as a device that fires bullets or projectiles using a burning propellant such as gunpowder at a muzzle energy over 8 joules‚ or a device which can be “readily altered to be a firearm”.
Taylor said: “Some airguns would still be counted as a firearm‚ because they have a high energy. Even though it is not burning gunpowder when it shoots‚ it still fires enough velocity for it to be classified as a gun.”
Taylor believes South Africa has strong firearm legislation.
“People aren’t aware of the fact that it is illegal to use a gun when you’re drunk. It’s illegal to threaten someone with a gun. It’s illegal to point a gun at someone. These are things that people can be declared unfit to own a gun [for].”
She said it would be “great concern” if blueprints for 3D-guns were made freely available.
“If anybody knows of anybody that has an illegal gun or who they suspect is using it illegally to take action‚ because it can save lives‚” she said.