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Vernon police concerned by growing trend of 3D printed guns

A large number of firearms seized in the North Okanagan in March are believed to have been privately made
A large number of what are believed to be privately made firearms (PMFs) were seized along with over 30 kilograms of illicit drugs March 14, 2023. (RCMP photo)

With the advent of the 3D printer, the danger of privately made firearms (PMFs) has increased significantly, and the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP has seen a rise in these kinds of firearms of late.

The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C. (CFSEU-BC), the province’s anti-gang police agency, issued a press release July 11 offering information on the dangers of PMFs, including those made with a 3D printer.

“Parents, educators, businesses and communities may not be aware the risks which can arise from these items that often resemble harmless toys,” the CFSEU-BC said.

The CFSEU said there has been a significant growth in the number of PMFs globally, though B.C. has not seen the same increases yet.

The Vernon North Okanagan RCMP is well aware of the threat PMFs pose on commuity safety.

“We are definitely concerned by the dangers associated to the manufacturing and sale of PMF’s and how this growing trend may potentially impact us here in the North Okanagan,” RCMP media relations officer Const. Chris Terleski told The Morning Star.

Terleski pointed to a case in March in which CFSEU-BC assisted Vernon’s Targeted Policing Unit with an ongoing investigation into local drug trafficking activity. The investigation found evidence related to the manufacturing and assembly of firearms.

“A number of firearms seized as a result of that investigation are believed to be PMFs,” Terleski said.

Four search warrants were executed across three different Okanagan communities after two months of investigation into drug trafficking by a group believed to be supplying Vernon and other nearby communities with various drugs.

Police seized 27 assault rifles, 18 handguns and six shotguns, and found evidence of firearm manufacturing and assembly.

Police also seized 30 kilograms of various illicit drugs, making the case “by far the largest and most significant drug and gun seizure this team has completed,” Sgt. David Evans of the Targeted Policing Unit said at the time.

PMFs are often referred to as “ghost guns” and they are appealing to anyone intending to use a firearm for criminal purposes. That’s because the firearms are untraceable.

“Many of the parts used to manufacture PMFs are unregulated which provides opportunity for criminal networks to create new avenues for firearm trafficking schemes and networks bypassing legislation surrounding firearms,” the CFSEU-BC said.

The CFSEU-BC wants to inform anyone who is purchasing a 3D printer for their children, school or business that, along with legitimate uses, the printer can be programmed to print firearm parts or other weapons.

“CFSEU-BC works collaboratively with partner agencies in the province, nationally and internationally when developing public safety strategies to address criminal activity associated to organized crime,” said assistant commissioner Manny Mann, chief officer for CFSEU-BC. “Educating the public on privately made firearms and the unexpected risks they could pose to all of us reflects the overall effort to ensure public safety.”

READ MORE: ‘Absolutely scary’: B.C. police warn of dangers in creating 3D-printed guns

READ MORE: Shotgun, drugs seized in police raid in Vernon

Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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