The legal wrangling in the U.S. around 3D printed firearms dates back to 2013, when non-profit organization, Defence Distributed, started publishing downloadable gun blueprints online. The company was quickly ordered by US State Department to remove the prints. A five-year long legal battle followed, where recently a federal Judge has temporary blocked the website from sharing blueprints of 3D guns. As the legal battle continues in the U.S, the RCMP and local police services continue to warn Canadians of the implications associated with printing 3D guns without a licence.
In Canada, there are three classes of firearms: non-restricted, restricted and prohibited. Different regulations apply to different classifications. To own a restricted gun or pistol, an individual first needs to obtain a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL). As all firearms are subject to the Firearm Act and associated regulations, it is illegal to manufacture or possess 3D printed firearm without the appropriate licence and applicable registration certificate.
Anyone who violates these weapons related laws could face up to 10 years in prison. Currently, there is no legislation prohibiting Canadians, licenced or not, from possessing online downloads of 3D printable files. The Federal Government has already proposed tightening Canada’s firearm law by introducing gun bill C-71. The bill intends to enhance existing background checks along with changing how vendors document the sale of firearms. The bill does not specifically address the modern notion of these so called “ghost guns”.