3d Printing Gun Parts

The proliferation of three-dimensional printers has fundamentally shifted manufacturing.  Using 3D printers, people are no longer required to purchase items they want and need from third parties, and instead, can simply and easily manufacture the items themselves.  While individualized manufacturing is mostly innocent and benign, depending on the item made, it can be illegal and dangerous.  This is certainly the case when it comes to manufacturing firearm parts which is now becoming a more common possibly illegal use of 3D printers.

Definition of a Firearm in the Criminal Code

The term firearm is defined in section 2 of the Criminal Code as a “barreled weapon from which any shot, bullet or other projectile can be discharged and that is capable of causing serious bodily injury or death to a person and includes any frame or receiver of such a barreled weapon and anything that can be adapted for use as a firearm.”   This a broad definition because it includes frames, receivers and anything that can be adapted for use as a firearm.   Therefore, one need not print the entirety of working gun to be guilty of manufacturing a firearm.  Printing parts of a gun like a receiver, frame, or other parts, that can later be adopted for use as a firearm, is sufficient to meet the definition and attract criminal liability. These 3d printed guns are often referred to as “ghost guns” as they are very hard for law enforcement to trace.

Is 3d Printing Guns Legal in Canada?

There are very serious penalties for manufacturing firearms in Canada.  Section 99(1) of the Criminal Code makes it an offence to manufacture a firearm and subsection 2 sets out the penalties for doing so.  There is a maximum sentence of 14 years in jail and a mandatory minimum sentence of three years in jail for a first offence and five years in jail for a second offence.  This means that if convicted, by law a judge cannot give less than three years in jail for a first offence and less than five years in jail if it’s a second offence.  Indeed, the courts often sentence offenders to much more than three years for the unlawful manufacturing of firearms on a first offence.

Illegal privately made firearms are untraceable and often end up being used in the commission of violent offences. The need to denounce this conduct and deter others from manufacturing firearms are the paramount objectives of the sentence imposed.  The courts have repeatedly stated that those who facilitate the manufacturing or trafficking of firearms should expect to receive significant jail sentences when they are brought before the courts for sentencing.

Manufacturing firearm parts, even for personal use, whether with a 3D printer or otherwise, may very well be unlawful.  Anyone considering doing so should first consult a criminal lawyer who has experience with firearm cases for advice. Failing to do so, or failing to heed their advice, could result in being sentenced to a considerable period in jail.

If you have been charged with a firearms-related offence, contact us today. Filkow Law has extensive experience defending firearm-related charges.