The proliferation of replica gun parts is growing, and the quality of 3D printers has something to do with it. A specialized RCMP team is fighting this scourge.
This semi-automatic assault weapon is considered by the RCMP to be a ghost weapon because the polymer frame bears no serial number. The other components were found in stores or online.
We are in the offices of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), located in the Port of Montreal. A dozen investigators dressed in civilian clothes, clearly identified with their insignia, are busy at their desks.
One of them comes to meet us. This is Nicola Ferraro, who takes us to a room where there is a semi-automatic weapon in spare parts.
Nicola Ferraro is an RCMP investigator. He specializes in the fight against the trafficking of firearms, in particular those nicknamed ghost weapons.
If we look at this weapon, the polymer frame can be manufacture with a 3D printer. Subsequently, all steel components can be found over the counter at a gunsmith or can be purchased illegally online at very affordable costs, explains investigator Ferraro.
“Over the past year, we have seen an increase in online purchases of legal firearm parts, but also illegal parts. For us, this is a new phenomenon.
— Nicola Ferraro, RCMP Investigator
The online proliferation of shoddy parts, mostly made in China, has made them readily available. In May 2021, the RCMP formed the Divisional Triage Unit, a specialized team of twelve investigators working to curb this scourge in Quebec.
Since then, around 30 criminal investigations have led to the seizure of around 100 illegal firearms, 180 prohibited devices and around 100 illegally manufactured parts.
This silencer looks exactly like an authentic one that a gunsmith would sell.
For example, this muffler can be purchased on any known online store for only $20, investigator Ferraro tells us as he shows us the part in question. On the other hand, it must be considered that it was made in China, without manufacturing standards. Personally, I would never take the risk of using it.
It is these kinds of coins that can then be smuggled back for criminal purposes, he adds.
There are some years alone, a suspect could barely fire a shot or two from a homemade weapon before it became inoperable.
New 3D printers are making it possible to produce high-quality parts to reproduce handguns, semi-automatics and automatics, according to the RCMP.
But the situation has changed these years since the prototypes have not only been improved, but have also become as affordable as a handgun silencer purchased online.
Anyone can afford a 3D printer today for around $300 or $400. It's enough to reproduce parts like the frame of a firearm, explains Nicola Ferraro.
And we only see weapons of fists in our searches, he continues, but also semi-automatic and automatic weapons. The quality of the 3D printers and the plans to make them mean that the weapon can now be used repeatedly.
Once assembled by hand and functional, these ghost weapons (without serial number) can be found everywhere in Quebec, but especially in the streets of Montreal.
This handcrafted handgun (ghost) was assembled with polymer parts from a 3D printer, parts components sold legally and other components purchased illegally online.
Our sources at the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) tell us that patrol officers in the field are finding this type of weapon more and more often.
Moreover, it was with a semi-automatic homemade weapon that Abdullah Shaikh allegedly committed three homicides in Montreal and Laval, before being shot dead by the police on August 4 last at Motel Pierre.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has also noticed another trend: that of the gun enthusiast buying illegal parts online for fun.
< p class="e-p">During our investigations, we came into contact with people who had no criminal intent. These were people who just wanted to add them to their collection, says Charles Poirier, spokesperson for the RCMP, Quebec Division.
Gold, gold Illegal importation of firearm parts can be worth 10 years in prison, according to the Criminal Code.
“No one may plead ignorance of the law in court. A gun club member can have his entire gun collection and license seized for a single click that he underestimated on the internet.
—Charles Poirier, RCMP Spokesperson, Quebec Division
Having the right to own a gun in Canada is a privilege. It can be removed at any time, recalls Charles Poirier.
Not to mention that with such weapons, the risk of injury to the user himself is also increased.
The danger with hand-made guns is the risk of the shooter inflicting serious injury on himself if a piece breaks. detached during the detonation, recalls investigator Ferraro.
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