One of the most successful TV series on Sky Atlantic right (for those who don’t know Sky is Rupert Murdoch’s European Satellite TV network) is the Italian crime TV series Gomorra, based on a book by writer Roberto Saviano about Neapolitan mafia, AKA the “Camorra”.
Violent as ever, the series has been capturing international audiences because of its no-compromise gritty and harsh realism: now that realism has expanded to include the use of RepRap 3D printing by the “camorristi” to manufacture a plastic gun.
The cameo features the shadow of a man using Cura software and what appears to be a RepRap 3D printer to produce the gun. Everything about the scene is realistic and it is probably not far at all from reality. As one of Italy’s biggest exports, Italian mafias are sure to be paying close attention to anything that could give them a competitive edge.
The Camorra is known as one of the most cruel and heartless criminal groups in Italy and everywhere, preying on its own people with no rules or even anything resembling a code of conduct. They are also described in the Gomorra book as paying close attention to trends and new technologies. They have certainly been following the open 3D printed gun projects by Cody Wilson and his Defense Distributed.
While Naples is the home of the Camorra, it is also one of the most creative and culturally rich cities in Italy and in the world. It is home to several very productive and successful FabLabs and Makerspaces. However the truth is that, in Naples, very little takes place without the Camorra knowing about it.
The debate on whether 3D printed guns should be allowed, denounced or simply ignored is still ongoing. The same debate, incidentally, applies to TV series like Gomorra, where no-scruples criminals are, in a way, glorified by telling their tales to millions of people. The series, and the book itself, have been criticized for this approach but those who defend them argue that silence means connivance and that telling these stories is the only real way to fight the mafia.
That criminal groups are likely to use 3D printers to make guns is – whether we like it or not – a real prospect. In fact the “camorristi” seem to be big fans of the TV series (even though they did threaten to kill Saviano for writing the book). That said, criminals were doing just fine in obtaining guns even before desktop 3D printing and it is probably not going to be a TV series that will change things one way or the other. In fact the hope is that potential criminals may discover 3D printing by watching the this episode of the series and, just maybe, go on to find out that there are many other, better things to do with a 3D printer.